67. Gareth Sweet – The United Kingdom

Gareth Sweet

Gareth Sweet

Gareth Sweet from the United Kingdom volunteered at Horizon Lanka in April 2017.

Gareth Sweet with the host family at Mahawilachchiya
Gareth Sweet with the host family at Mahawilachchiya
Gareth Sweet with the host family at Mahawilachchiya
Gareth Sweet with the host family at Mahawilachchiya
Gareth Sweet with the host family at Mahawilachchiya
Gareth Sweet with the host family at Mahawilachchiya
Gareth Sweet with the host family at Mahawilachchiya
Gareth Sweet with the host family at Mahawilachchiya
Gareth Sweet with the host family at Mahawilachchiya
Gareth Sweet with the host family at Mahawilachchiya
Gareth Sweet with the host family at Mahawilachchiya
Gareth Sweet with the host family at Mahawilachchiya

Coding for Children with Mr. Tjerand Silde

Prabodha Sandeepani Kalotuwawa

Prabodha Sandeepani Kalotuwawa

Mr. Johann De Cruz of Tiqri, Colombo, Sri Lanka is known to Horizon Lanka since some time. Tiqri is involved in a new program called “Coding for Children.” They do it with the Norwegian government. Mr. Tjerand Silde, a computer programmer from Norway visited Sri Lanka in February, 2017. He visited Horizon Lanka on February 02, 2017. He did a wonderful workshop for our students till the late into the night. He brought a micro:bit unit and did a demonstration as how to use it.

He used Scratch to teach programming to us. It is a good tool for understanding the logic of programming. He also taught HTML to make web pages. In Norway, their projects can be accessed at www.oppgaver.kidsakoder.no. There are communities in Sri Lanka like this now. Visit http://www.microbitslug.com. They even have a Sinhala microbit editor https://pxt.microbit.org/beta?livelang=si-LK

Here is a list of great resources for learning how to code:

At studio.code.org there is a lot of interactive projects designed for beginners. All of them are online, but some of them are also available for downloading and installing offline as well. For example:

https://studio.code.org/download/mc

https://studio.code.org/download/starwars

https://scratch.mit.edu/ is created for teaching kids how to code.

instructions: https://codeclubprojects.org/en-GB/ (also other languages)

offline: https://scratch.mit.edu/scratch2download/ 

http://microbit.org/ is great, but then you need a microbit (a microcontroller) to actually execute the code physically.

https://www.codecademy.com/ and https://www.khanacademy.org/ are great if you have internet access.

download python from https://www.python.org/downloads/ and use the IDLE-editor if you want to learn python. Teaching it starting with the turtle library and program turtles on the screen to go around with commands like “forward()”, “left()”, “right()”, etc. for example by following this instruction: https://codeclubprojects.org/en-GB/python/

Ashen Chandoopa Wijewickrama – ashen@horizonlanka.org Grade 8, Horizon Lanka Academy

Tharaka Kahduwa helping the children.
Tharaka Kahduwa helping the children.
Tharaka Kahduwa helping the children.
Tharaka Kahduwa helping the children.
Horizon Lanka children with Matthew Roy
Horizon Lanka children with Matthew Roy
Surendra with Tjerand Silde and Matthew Roy
Surendra with Tjerand Silde and Matthew Roy
jerand Silde doing the workshop
jerand Silde doing the workshop
Surendra with Tjerand Silde
Surendra with Tjerand Silde
Mr. Sisira Rathnayaka and Mr. Nanda Wanninayaka
Mr. Sisira Rathnayaka and Mr. Nanda Wanninayaka
Prbodha Sandeepani Kalotuwawa and Ashen Chandoopa Wijewickrama
Prbodha Sandeepani Kalotuwawa and Ashen Chandoopa Wijewickrama

A Smart Phone to a Smart Girl

Tharani Madhara Rathnayaka

Tharani Madhara Rathnayaka

Towards the end of the last year, a former volunteer at Horizon Lanka, Mr. Zachary Grenzowski came up with this novel idea of holding a competition for the best video clip by a Horizon Lanka student. So, the students were very keen on creating video content with the help of the then volunteers of Horizon Lanka to create the most creative video. At the end of a stiff competition, Tharani Madhara Rathnayaka, a female student from Grade 8 won a brand new 4G smart phone as her coveted prize. This is what Tharani had to say after winning the prize.

“There was a video competition held by Horizon Lanka. I was very much interested in taking part in it. Miss Bára Molnárová, a volunteer from the Czech Republic was volunteering at Horizon Lanka last year.  She stayed with me in my home.  She helped me to write a script and organize it in proper way. Working with Bara was an amazing experience. She motivated me to create my video story.  Bara gave me full freedom to use her camera phone for the videoing. It gave me lot of pleasure to use her Apple iPhone. It was the first time I used an iPhone. My parents and brother also allowed me to go with Bara cycling around the village to see to reservoirs, streams, rice fields, chena farms, etc. to create my video.  So, I could create an authentic video with natural beauty in my village. I edited the video myself with Windows Moviemaker software with others’ help.

At last Zach, the organizer of the video competition selected me as the winner. The main reasons for him to select me were the authenticity and the rich natural scenes in my video. According to Zach, I had a stiff competition from Aruni, Sachini and Oshda. I am very happy that I could beat all of them. I was very happy to receive my gift of Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime 4G smart phone. I use my phone to help Pramodhya, my friend at Horizon Lanka to create a web page about her talents. I use my phone for educational purposes. I also improve my English and ICT knowledge with it.  Many in the village, especially adults, think using phones is harmful. But I use the phone with responsibility. Thank you very much for all who helped me to create my video clip and who watched it.”

Award winning video

Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
Tharani Madhara Rathnayaka taking a selfie
Tharani Madhara Rathnayaka taking a selfie
Tharani Madhara Rathnayaka taking a selfie
Tharani Madhara Rathnayaka taking a selfie
Tharani Madhara Rathnayaka taking a selfie
Tharani Madhara Rathnayaka taking a selfie
Tharani Madhara Rathnayaka taking a selfie
Tharani Madhara Rathnayaka taking a selfie
Tharani Madhara Rathnayaka taking a selfie with Lea Rumpf, a Swiss volunteer
Tharani Madhara Rathnayaka taking a selfie with Lea Rumpf, a Swiss volunteer
Tharani Madhara Rathnayaka with her phone
Tharani Madhara Rathnayaka with her phone
Tharani Madhara Rathnayaka taking a selfie
Tharani Madhara Rathnayaka taking a selfie
Tharani Madhara Rathnayaka reading a text message
Tharani Madhara Rathnayaka reading a text message

Aruni’s video

Sachni’s video

Osada’s video

66. Mark McDougall – The United Kingdom

Mark McDougall

Mark McDougall

Mr. Mark McDougall from the United Kingdom volunteered two weeks in March 2017 at Horizon Lanka. Though his stay was comparatively shorter, he did a lot for the organization especially with his great writing skills.

Volunteering at Horizon Lanka – Mark McDougall

My time spent volunteering at Horizon Lanka and living in Mahawilachchiya has been one of the most unique and rewarding experiences that I have been part of, throughout my entire journey around Asia. I have found Horizon Lanka to be a key aspect in the lives of many of the children in Mahawilachchiya. It gives the children a platform to learn, that is completely different from the environment in which they learn in their public schools, with a real focus put upon computer skills, improving their English and expressing themselves through singing and dancing. The children seem to really enjoy having Horizon Lanka as a place where they can socialize with both their friends and volunteers from around the world, as well as improving their IT and English skills which will hopefully help to further their prospects in both the job market and in society after they finish their education. Nanda works incredibly hard to create an environment where the children and volunteers are comfortable. I have particularly enjoyed helping the children with their spoken English, mainly through simply having conversations with them and discovering what their interests are as people. The children are energetic, warm and friendly people who engage fully in all that they do; be it learning new things, playing sports like cricket and volleyball or expressing themselves through music and dance (which many of the children are extremely passionate about).

The people of Mahawilachchiya are some of the most caring and generous people that I have ever met! While cycling or walking around the village and surrounding areas I have been constantly acknowledged by a waving hand or smiling face and have really felt welcomed into this rural community. Wasantha has been like a guide to me, introducing me to so many lovely people throughout the village. I have been invited into countless houses for tea or food and to chat, a show of generosity that has really touched me as I don’t believe there are many places in the world where a stranger will be treated as warmly and to be made to feel as at home, as I have in Mahawilachchiya. The community here is truly one built around a philosophy of ‘sharing is caring’, as everyone so readily shares whatever they have and no one goes without. This includes animals as well as people, as any ‘waste’ food is dispersed to the various birds and animals that inhabit the area. The concept of greed doesn’t appear to have been introduced to Mahawilachchiya, as people only take what they need, nothing more.  Coming from a country where it is much more uncommon for someone to show an act of kindness to a complete stranger, it has been very beautiful for me to witness and be a part of.

As well as introducing me to multiple friends and families around the area, Wasantha has shown me various areas of natural beauty that I never would have discovered myself. This part of Sri Lanka has so much to offer to a nature lover. Some of my favorite places that I have been in Mahawilachchiya are; the lake (which is a great spot to swim and cool off) and the river side (where I was again made to feel completely welcome by the local women that stayed there) which is one of the most peaceful and serene spots I have ever been to just to relax with a book or watch the various birdlife or try to catch fish in the teeming river.

While volunteering with Horizon Lanka, I have been lucky enough to be hosted by Surendra and his family. They have strived at all times to make me feel like part of the family and to ensure that I am happy and well-fed! Surendra’s mother has provided me with some of the best food I have ever eaten; from delicious curries and rice to rotis and salads, all of the food has been delicious. It has been very interesting for me to see and eat food that is completely organic and natural, and to be able to see exactly where the food has come from. This family have completely opened their home to me and I can’t express enough how grateful I am for that. It has been really interesting and enjoyable for me to get to know all of the family (including Bruno the dog!) and to witness Sri Lankan family life.

Unfortunately, as I have visited Mahawilachchiya during the very busy exam period I have been unable to volunteer at a public school. However, this just gives me an even greater incentive to return to Mahawilachchiya and to combine volunteering at Horizon Lanka with volunteering at a local school.

After escaping the chaotic melting pot that is Colombo, the steady and tranquil pace of village life in Mahawilachchiya is a breath of fresh air. I wish that I had time to stay here for a longer period of time, unfortunately that isn’t possible for me right now. However, I definitely intend to return to this area and to volunteer with Horizon Lanka again and to see how everyone in the village is getting on. I think there are lots of people who would benefit from a similar experience as the one I have had in Mahawilachchiya and I know that future volunteers will have as great a time as I have.

Mark McDougall – The United Kingdom March 29, 2017

Mark McDougall with the Horizon Lanka students
Mark McDougall with the Horizon Lanka students
Mark McDougall with the Horizon Lanka students
Mark McDougall with the Horizon Lanka students
Mark McDougall with the Horizon Lanka students
Mark McDougall with the Horizon Lanka students
Mark McDougall with the Horizon Lanka students
Mark McDougall with the Horizon Lanka students
Mark McDougall with the Horizon Lanka students
Mark McDougall with the Horizon Lanka students
Mark McDougall with the Horizon Lanka students
Mark McDougall with the Horizon Lanka students

65. Irina Ayutova – Russia

Irina Ayutova – Russia

Irina Ayutova – Russia

Miss Irina Ayutova from Russia volunteered at Horizon Lanka in March, 2017.

Мой опыт волонтерства в Horizon Lanka. Mahavilachchiya (http://www.horizonlanka.org/)

Все всегда начинается со смыслов. Если в том, что мы делаем есть глубина, нам всегда хочется быть в этом процессе. А еще лучше если есть глубина и идея, которая может поменять этот мир. Сделать этот мир лучше и добрее.

В этом случае я обеими руками за. Мне не хватало возможности быть полезной обществу в этом путешествии. Я честно старалась делиться, помогать окружающим, но было нечто большее внутри, что хотелось отразить в больших действиях.

Очень рада, что такая возможность появилась. Первый раз в жизни работала волонтеров в Казахстане, тогда мы устраняли последствия селевого потока. Это второй заграничный опыт работы волонтером. Очень приятные ощущения от работы в этом очень красивом и умиротворенном месте.

Об идеи. Идея на самом деле очень светлая. Появилась она более 10 лет назад в голове замечательного человека Nanda Wanninayaka https://www.facebook.com/nanda.wanninayaka.official. Появилась она потому что в Mahavilachchiya особо занятся не чем и возможности у детей получать хорошее образование, чтобы потом поступить в колледж не было.

Два варианта развития событий: армия для мальчиков, а потом возвращение в село и работа на швейных фабриках для девочек. Все. Он решил создать место в котором можно получать хорошее образование. И опыт показал, что этого достаточно, чтобы поступить в колледж. У Нанды очень много выпускников, которые получили образование и работают в разных отраслях.

То, что может быть полезно всем нам или как он нашел меня. Есть замечательный сайт https://www.workaway.info/. На этом сайте вы размешаете объявление о поиске человеческой силы. В замен на работу, которую они будут делать, вы предоставляете питание и проживание.

Это не рабство:) Чаще всего волонтеры работают несколько часов в день. А потом у них свободное время. Волонтеры выполняют разную работу. Можно работать учителем в школе, можно помогать строить дом. Вы сами можете поближе познакомиться с этим сайтом.

Так, Нанда находит волонтеров, которые могут обучать детей в его центре. Думаю, многим сельским школам России и не только можно взять это на заметку:) Кто-то обучает танцам, как я например. Кто-то английскому. Кто-то занимается с ними спортом. В любом случае это обучение с удовольствием. А самое главное, что все мы можем говорить с детьми только на английском. Это отличная возможность для детей начать говорить на английском.

И для нас волонтеров это очень хорошая практика. Если у вас появиться желание и возможность поработать здесь волонтером. То пишите напрямую моему хорошему другу Нанад (https://www.facebook.com/nanda.wanninayaka.official) Он будет рад любой помощи, тем более что сейчас у него много идей и планов как изменить это место и сделать здесь IT лагерь и не только. Уверенна помощь ему будет нужна.

Это очень классное место и отличная команда, которая готова менять это село и мир в целом. Хочу, чтобы все у него получилось!

Его координаты

nanda@horizonlanka.org

Mobile 01 Local: 077-7702678

Mobile 01 IDD : 0094-77-7702678

Mobile 02 Local: 071-8508537

Mobile 02 IDD: 0094-71-8508537

What up 0094-77-7702678
Skype : Wanninayaka
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/nanda.wanninayaka.official

Благодарю за возможность быть здесь!

#Аютова800 #волонтер #шриланка #творитьдобро #horizonlanka
Благодарю за эту возможность. И благодарю своих новых друзей.

Благодарю Нанду, Васанту, Нэги, Лио и Принца за возможность быть с ними. http://www.horizonlanka.org/hi

Irina Ayutova with Horizon Lanka students
Irina Ayutova with Horizon Lanka students
Miss Irina Ayutova with the Horizon Lanka students.
Miss Irina Ayutova with the Horizon Lanka students.
Miss Irina Ayutova with the Horizon Lanka students.
Miss Irina Ayutova with the Horizon Lanka students.
Miss Irina Ayutova with the Horizon Lanka students.
Miss Irina Ayutova with the Horizon Lanka students.
Miss Irina Ayutova teaching dacing to the Horizon Lanka students.
Miss Irina Ayutova teaching dacing to the Horizon Lanka students.
Miss Irina Ayutova teaching dacing to the Horizon Lanka students.
Miss Irina Ayutova teaching dacing to the Horizon Lanka students.
Miss Irina Ayutova teaching dacing to the Horizon Lanka students.
Miss Irina Ayutova teaching dacing to the Horizon Lanka students.

64. Lea Rumpf – Switzerland

Lea Rumph – Switzerland

 

Lea RumpfMiss Lea Rumpf from Switzerland volunteered at Horizon Lanka Foundation from February to March in 2017.

After having been on the road for more than a month and after many amazing and annoying experiences, I was looking for a place to stay for a few weeks. A place where I don’t have to pack my backpack every 3 days and a place where no Sri Lankan guys will annoy me 😉 But most of all a place to get involved in Sri Lankan rural life and gain new experience while working with the people. I finally felt ready to start my first Sri Lankan Workaway.

After my weekend trip in Sigriya with Sri Lankan friends, I took the bus to Anuradhapura to spend a night there before heading to Mahawilachchiya to start my next adventure. On Monday morning I entered the bus (as always with the help of some really nice Sri Lankan people) to Wilachchiya, not knowing what will wait me there. I was told to get off at a junction which was close to Horizon Lanka. It turned out that it wasn’t close at all.

So there I was, with a 15kg backpack in the middle of a Sri Lankan rural village, no idea where I was supposed to go. I have to mention that I love being lost so I enjoyed the moment. Secondly I love how the Sri Lankan people always help the “sudu kella,” I don’t even need to ask. This concretely means that a very kind woman called her brother who had a car to give me a short ride to Horizon Lanka. I wish this would ever happen back home.

Volunteering in Mahawilachchiya has been such an amazing experience! Since my early childhood there was a photo in our house which has inspired me for many travels so far. The photo shows my parents in India (they were travelling around the world by bicycle), two white faces surrounded by around 50 Indian people. I always wanted to have a picture like this. After only three days I had around 500 selfies from the school and the kids had just been super cute with me all the time. “Teacher.. what’s your name? “ teacher! Selfie?” “Teacher, how are you?” I will always remember these little creatures with their white-blue school uniforms, the girls with the long black braids, their voices and cute faces.

I have mostly been teaching English from 1st to 13th Grade. I doubt I have ever felt so tired before after having been with the 1st grade (6 years old) for only one lesson. Starting with the very basics in a language they have never listened to before is more than challenging. Since they do not even understand you when you ask them to please be quiet and sit down, it can be very tiring. But definitely also very rewarding. Never before have I ever seen such grateful and motivated kids who even worship their teacher. Unfortunately in Europe kids are no longer taught how to respect their teacher, so this experience has even been more impressive for me.

It has inspired me to now take a TEFL course in South Africa and continue teaching English around the world.

I was very surprised to see how unorganized the school seemed to be. Due to the frequent absence of the teachers, the timetable could not be met. Teachers are normally the second important example right after the parents. But how can they be an example if they show the students how little they care about their job by just showing up whenever they fancy to?

Helping the kids further with their English, teaching them new sports and even giving some piano lessons, was what included my engagement at Horizon Lanka Foundation. I personally believe sports and music is the best way to teach kids about life. They learn so much by just doing it. They learn about what it means to be a team, challenges, motivation, giving 100%, victories & defeats, standing up again over and over again. This will help them throughout their whole life in every kind of situation.

What I personally found very sad, was that the kids in Mahawilachchiya do not really have leisure activities and hobbies. They focus too much on studying (and dancing & computers). For people like me who believe life teaches you everything outside of the school, this was shocking. It is surely also consequence of a lack of material, but kids are the most inventing and creative creatures when it comes to playing.

Mahawilachchiya had turned into a home for me from a very short time after my arrival. This is not only a place you call accommodation, I can cordially call it “home.” It’s the people who make this place so special. From the very first moment (started with the above mentioned woman who organized my transfer) I felt accepted and very welcome in Mahawilachchiya. My beautiful family Yamuna, Upul, Chandra, Umandi with baby Nathasha, Pramodhya and Kaushal welcomed me as their lost eldest daughter who they haven’t seen for a long time. Pramodhya even gave up her room to accommodate me. I spent a lot of time playing, laughing and eating with them and will surely miss this wonderful family. The food was just so delicious (besides the fact that I got overfed.) I loved being their playmate and doll.

The great thing in Mahawilachchiya is that you are welcome everywhere and also all the other families always have an open door for you.

I started to spend half of the nights at Horizon Lanka so I could experience Sri Lankan family life on one hand but also enjoyed volunteers house sharing, which was both great! I can even spend the whole day in the hammock, just doing nothing, and people will still care about me and bring me food and herbal tea. I do have wonderful memories of being in Mahawilachchiya, in the nature, meditating.

3 weeks in Mahawilachchiya have given me many life learning lessons. Even after having been to around 40 countries, I have never seen a place before where people seem to be that much connected with nature and original life. The less you have, the more you appreciate what is around.

Sudu Aka will be back soon!

I spent around 5 weeks (4 weeks before Mahawilachchiya and 1 week after) travelling around Sri Lanka. It is such a wonderful place which has so many things to offer. Whatever you are looking for, you will probably find it in Sri Lanka. It is very diverse and it is so easy and cheap to get around. Meeting other travellers or locals is not hard at all. I tried to avoid other tourists as well as possible and got therefore a very local experience by staying with locals all the time. Due to a lack of English (and Sinhala from my side) it was often very hard to get information from locals about Sri Lanka. You feel so connected with mother earth while being in Sri Lanka and it is such a spiritual, inspiring and relaxing place no one should miss out.

I would like to say cordially thank you to my wonderful family who accepted me as their daughter, to the people of Mahawilachchiya who always welcomed me with open arms and showed me how to be happy with the most basic things, to Nanda and Wasantha for all the inspiring ideas and sharing and to my volunteer mates Mohamed and Irina for the very best company and the lifelong friendship!

Lea Rumph with Horizon Lanka students
Lea Rumpf with Horizon Lanka students
Lea Rumph at Horizon Lanka
Lea Rumpf at Horizon Lanka
Lea Rumph at the village playground
Lea Rumpf at the village playground
Lea Rumph at the village playground
Lea Rumpf at the village playground
Lea Rumpf at Sadasarana lake
Lea Rumpf at Sadasarana lake
Lea Rumpf with Wasantha at Sadasarana lake
Lea Rumpf with Wasantha at Sadasarana lake
Lea Rumpf with the tailor who stitched her sari, Surangi
Lea Rumpf with the tailor who stitched her sari, Surangi

Pramodhya, the Karate Kid

Pramodhya Umayangani

Pramodhya Umayangani

Pramodhya Umayangani is a charming girl who is friendly towards everyone at the Horizon Lanka Academy. Already, at the young age of 12, she has won a few medals for her outstanding performances in karate tournaments.  Last year Pramodhya went to Kerala, India where she finished second among the competitors from five different nations, earning her a silver medal. This year she was invited to a karate championship in Mumbai , but was unable to take part due to the expenses required.

Pramodhya is the second daughter of three siblings. Her family lives in Mahawilachchiya where wild elephants are regular visitors to their farm. Each time they wander onto the farm they destroy the young coconut plants. Recent droughts caused her father to abandon the farmland and become a daily laborer in the city. Her mother Yamuna still finds time to tend to the farm even while looking after her one-year and half old baby boy.

Pramodhya is a talented dancer, equally strong in both traditional and free style dancing. Each time when Horizon Lanka organizes a farewell party for a foreign volunteer Pramodhya does her best performance, while her mother Yamuna looks after costumes and refreshments for the audience. Pramodhya also attends a traditional dancing class held three days each week at her house. They have a very good dancing team which performs in peraheras (cultural processions) festivals and other public events taking place in the village.

This Karate Kid is a regular student at Horizon Lanka. She is an intelligent and dedicated student that excels in her computers, English and dancing studies. She can be found working happily with her peers. She is an asset to Horizon Lanka as her family is extremely dedicated to Horizon and its mission.

Even with her all extracurricular activities, Pramodhya still records high marks in her public school term tests. She dreams of becoming a gymnastics teacher.

“I love dancing, martial arts and gymnastic so that I could keep my body fit and healthy,” says an excited Pramodhya. It would be great if you can help her realizing her dream.

Pramodhya Umayangani with her medals
Pramodhya Umayangani with her medals
Pramodhya Umayangani's medals
Pramodhya Umayangani’s medals
Pramodhya Umayangani at a training session
Pramodhya Umayangani at a training session
Pramodhya Umayangani in Kerala India with her freinds
Pramodhya Umayangani in Kerala India with her freinds

Pramodhya Umayangani with a badminton racket
Pramodhya Umayangani with a badminton racket
Pramodhya-Umayangani6
Pramodhya Umayangani while dancing.