Tharaka Kahaduwa, our first long term Sri Lankan volunteer volunteered in Horizon Lanka in January, 2017.
“I had first heard about Horizon Lanka Foundation about five years ago; when I overheard my parents talk about helping a little girl from the village buy a bike. At that point, I hadn’t paid much to my parent’s involvement; partly naivety, partly educational commitments. Last summer, I had accompanied my parents to visit the very girl they had been supporting for the past decade, and it really opened a part of my heart towards reaching out and help the Foundation and the neighborhood.
In January 2017, I volunteered to help out at Horizon Lanka as I was in Sri Lanka for a short time. I was looking forward to the whole experience, as it would be my first insight into village life. The first day that I arrived at Horizon Lanka, everyone was very hospitable towards me and my family. The kids were a little shy at first, but so was I. However, the following days brought us all closer together. I guess the fact that I was Sri Lankan made it a little easier for the kids, as they seemed a little shy to communicate in English all the time with the foreign volunteers. During my time at Horizon, I was staying at Nanda’s home, which is right next to the school. Living conditions were simple and comfortable, with all the basic amenities such as showers, toilet etc. The town is very small and quiet; having been used to the ‘big city life’, the quietness and calmness seemed like something I would have to get used to. However, the incredible warmth and friendliness of almost all the residents in the area made it a lot easier. They are used to all the foreign volunteers coming over, and seem to appreciate their support for the village as a whole.
Classes were held every day, and there was a schedule with different subjects taught on different days. During my time there, class subjects seemed to be more of a ‘on the spot’ decision rather than schedule-based. This was understandable as there were several events that were affecting the regular attendance of students; few of them being drought season and preparation for school sports meet. There had been days when a few or even no students show up during the evenings, and so there would be no classes held; the students would be more interested in listening to music on the computer, etc. However, when a class would actually take place, you can easily tell that the students are very eager to learn about computer skills, movies and English. It is truly amazing to see how kids can be from less developed areas have better computer skills than kids from big cities! The kids are receiving something that the Sri Lankan education system fails to teach; modern society values and being aware of current global issues.
From this experience, I feel I’ve received more than what I gave. The kids at Horizon have an opportunity to be leaders of our society, and as a fellow Sri Lankan, I couldn’t be more proud. Although there were a few hiccups during my stay, Nanda and Wasantha took great care of me, and their dedication towards this project over the years has been nothing short of incredible. The Horizon Lanka family will always be in my heart, and will try to support it in whatever way I can.” Tharaka Kahaduwa – Sri Lanka