Miss Veronika Betakova, an AIESEC, Sri Lanka intern from the Czech Republic/Slovakia worked at Horizon Lanka, Mahawilachchiya from August 2009 to October 2009. She was a very active young lady who worked hand in hand with the village youth and thus won their hearts.
Every day here is like an adventure and full of marvelous surprises. I love countries, in which I must use my brain, where I need to use usual things by unusual way. A southern life, a more careless life :). In this country the time doesn’t play any role, nothing is in time, but the people are very friendly, willing and you must love their simple life, because it will be also your simple life :).
My first feeling, when I came to Mahawilachchiya, was ooouu, unbelievable, like land of nobody, small cottage, nothing, nothing, small cottage, nothing, nothing… After three months here I still cant understand one thing… in the land, in which people going to sleep with the darkness and wake up with the first sun beam (very practical by the insects), has all the village Wi-Fi connection, ok, its slowly and with many power cuts, but still its like a miracle :).
I live in a 5-members family and they know only a few English words, so my Sinhala is becoming better and better day by day :). It’s interesting to have 2 small brothers and one sister, the best contraception for next years :). But no, they are very nice, I have all one room only for me and with mosquito net, what more to wish???? My new mom still spends some time by me, usually only smiled and tried to turn away all insects, so lovely :). Even they try to cook no spicy food for me and I can take a spoon and also I can stay in flip-flops, because I never before tried earth floor :). Who doesn’t love them??? Amma (my hostess) never forgets me :), when I go on a trip, she adds me some food. Usually in newspaper, if my Sinhala or Tamil will be better I can use it also other way :). She has my big admiration, from September started school also here, so Amma wakes up every morning around 4am, irons school uniforms and prepares food for children, of course rice and something. I spend every week 2 long hours by hand-washing, but she needs to wash clothes for all family. She still persecutes me, tried to putting up my skirts and shorts and putting down my T-shirts, I have to look like a good girl :).Last times I was on something like acceptance of new house and she ran to me with fork and reboiled water, dear Amma :). I felt so special like never in my life, can u imagine around many people, just sitting, praying and then eating on the floor only with hands and for me prepared table :).
I start to be really nature girl in a good words meaning… wake up with the birds, in worse case with ants and mosquitoes. In the toilet find frogs, in the garden dogs, cats, turtles, squirrel and sometimes also scorpions, but don’t worry, usually they have antitoxin at home and you still have 1-2 hours of live (if it will be my last words, remember, 2 hours are NOT enough 🙂 ). Be or not to be??? No, no, the question is little other: Take a shower in “bathroom” or in river??? They still use for the cooking…fire, normal, open fire in the kitchen :). In my might is still one of our folk’s songs: she was putting clothes in the water and a frog jumped there…. ye, ye, ye, they don’t have washing machines, but you can find here a washing powder and also iron, jajaj, luxury :). By every washing I feel like in a TV-spot for washing powder, just put dirty clothes in the water, add washing powder, wait around 10-15 minutes, then wash every piece in hand around 10 minutes and your clothes have never been so clean and white like now :). I saw here only one really big rain and as u suppose it was when I finished with hanging clothes :).
I have new nick name, I try to teach them to pronounce Veronika or Nika, but no, I’m Miss or Teacher, haha. I have only Basic English from travelling, movies, books and I have never been a teacher, so I was little (maybe more than only little) scared of teaching English. But now I see the teaching is nothing difficult, you must be just careful, hear them, make fun and make compliment for every improvement :). And they love controlling of notebooks and don’t want to go home without homework :). On my first lesson I made fun with my Sinhala knowledge and then played with small game draw and describe and they liked it :). Also I didn’t know, that I can describe so many words only with my body without using words.
With the small children we only teach ABC, also how to write ABC and numbers till 10, then some songs and small sentences about name, age, family… Drawing is still very popular and we start with singing, poor children by my music antitalent :).
In second group are children around 9 and they are very clever. They know only a few words, so is very hard to explain their grammar, but it’s not a problem, step by step and now we know how to introduce myself, use “to be”, possessive pronouns, buy a chocolate in shop (because this I know also in Sinhala), some new verbs, animals, things and they want also singing, ajajaj, why, why with me???? One day I used a DVD and till they were watching a movie, I repaired swings; for sure I had to test it like first :). We play football, volleyball and also they teach me cricket :). The popular game is “hide and seek” and “caram” (kind of table games).
Every class we start with a repetition, I’m going to sleep and waking up with ABC and numbers till 20 :). I teach them how to play “hop” and also I prepared for them small Olympic Games.
We find the best way how to teach and learn. For example, I explained them ordinal numeral on the winners and “want” with a game with ball. The explaining of preposition I started with drawing and then we played a game with chairs. Smaller ones are also very clever, they remembered very quickly words fly and plane, yes, yes, yes I showed them this game and from this moment, also because of cricket, start to be my biceps and triceps nice well developed :).
They are very nice, also give me chocolate and sugar, jajaj, corruption in so small age and I give them support in this, jajaj, where is this world moving towards???? From they found, that I can be happy from everything, they start to take me flowers, fruit, shells and also feathers, for which I find nice places in my hair, so sometimes I’m teacher Winnetou. By presented shells is good to check if their owner are not more inside and peacocks feather is very danger for eyes :).
The second part of my work was to create a strategy analysis with the business plan for HLF. It was great; I prefer, when I can organize work by myself and with Wanni I was only in online contact.
I like cycling, so sometimes I make a trip around, where you can find nice lakes with lotus flowers or rice fields. At the start was for me difficult became on left riding or crazy drivers, but now it is for me funny, you have a occasion to try a way by bus, train, “toc toc”, tractor, motorbike.
The food its very, very, very spicy, so when I ask for not spicy and have enough water I can pass it and if not, here are many poor animals, that like also spicy food :). Did u remember the part of movie Forrest Gump, when Bubba want to say all the ways how to prepare shrimps??? I can do the same 🙂 ….with a coconut, when u think u can imagine all taste, try coconut with chilly or with onion, hmmmm delicious :). Rice on the lunch, rice on the dinner, rice between its ok, but really not rice on the breakfast :), in this time I prefer their bread, they have only one kind of white bread, so easy choice 🙂 Interesting, that when u ask them, which is their favorite food, usually is answer rice with curry. For salty juices I was prepared from Taiwan, but pineapple with pepper?!?! Amma starts to know, that more than various mashes and spicy masses I like salad from fresh vegetables, Cinderella has competition, I can find every peace of chilly :). And I don’t spurn of fresh fruit, but I prefer only fruit, without salt, chilly or other spice. I made also special dinner for my family. The Ceylon is famous by the tea and it’s true, it’s so delicate. They have many kind of tea, but the most popular is black. I saw nobody with coffee, but says is terrible. Because of English colonization drinks tea with milk and sugar, sugar, sugar, jejejej, it’s sweet and sweeter. My family has special way, they have in one hand small tea cup and in the second sugar and the proportion is almost the same.
From any times I start to call these people “hummingbirds nation”. And do you know why??? Any idea? No??? Because when they agree usually make with the head a symbol of infinite, u know like horizontal 8, the same like hummingbird with the wings. At the same time say ou, ou, ou (yes, yes, yes), so at the start I was really lost, I didn’t know if it means yes or no.
I still don’t understand school uniformity; it’s not only the same clothes and shoes, but also the same look. Girls only long hair in 2 rolls with black bow at the end and with hair path really in the middle and boys very short or slick on the side. No exceptions!!! It’s like effort to wipe out the property difference, but how to wipe out something so manifest?????
I learned how to make classroom, better small hut, only from wood and palm trees and also how to make a floor. It’s a very good smelling cubby :). Even I helped also in kitchen, jajajaj, from Verca start to be cooker :), ok, my “papadam” was a little bit black, but pancakes with imagines or short messages were famous :). As u know by cooking we use fire, but u don’t have fire so easy. One nice day I visited with my new family their plantation and we prepared some logs.
I visited also many nice places around and we were with the staff also on a few motorbike trips in the most famous places.
Sure it’s the next unforgettable traineeship, which give me better writing (it’s terrible to spell every word), a feeling that the children are not small monsters, teaches me a simple life and change my looking at the world. Thanks, thanks for this great chance. I have still a few days here, but I’m sure to say good bye will be one of the hardest things in my life.
Veronika Betakova, the Czech Republic/Slovakia – October 5, 2009