I find it hard to describe my experience with Horizon Academy, Tantirimale because of all the different emotions I had. I have volunteered before in the Czech Republic and Poland, but this was my best experience so far. Before coming to Sri Lanka I would never have thought that I would leave with the feeling of having a Sri Lankan family to come back to visit after my wonderful experience with my family while volunteering.
We had planned to stay a week and by the end of the week we wanted to stay longer. From the first moment of meeting our host family I felt so welcomed and part of their family. Our family was great, they provided us with delicious meals, and we had so much fun with them. We played games together, learned about each other cultures and overall enjoyed each other’s company. Sandali the little girl in the family was so clever and she always wanted to play and improve her English. I think she will continue to get better and better. We will miss our Sri Lankan family and I wish them all the best in the future.
During our time volunteering with Horizon we worked at the local school in the village in the morning and at the Horizon Academy in the afternoon. We started our classes at the local school around 10 a.m. and finished at lunch time. The classes at Horizon Academy were usually from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The children are great and are very nice to teach. They have lots of potential and they are very eager to improve their English, so I think they will continue to improve in the future. Sunanda the manager at Horizon was very welcoming and helped us with any problems we had. He helped us with our host family, gave us a ride to and from school and gave us information about the area.
The area is very beautiful and I think anyone who decides to come here will not regret their decision. We found the area very relaxing and a great place to experience the countryside of Sri Lanka. We had lots of free time to visit the local sites and the people in the area are so friendly and will always greet you with a big smile and a wave. Anuradhapura is not far away and takes about one hour on the local bus. The buses go fairly often during the day so you could visit there on your days off.
Sri Lanka is a great place to visit we really enjoyed Colombo and Anuradhapura before we started our volunteering with Horizon. I hope the rest of Sri Lanka will be as good.
I would like to thank Horizon for accepting me on this program and I wish them continued success in the future. I think the work they are doing is so important and if you are lucky enough to join them at some stage I think you will have a wonderful experience. I hope I can come back some day and do it all again.
John Stephen Connolly – Ireland (Volunteered in May 2017)
Volunteering with Horizon Academy, Tantirimale was such a unique experience and I’m so glad that I did it. We spent time at the public schools as well as the Academy and found the students so engaging and sweet. They were quick to laugh and smile, and generally lovely students that wanted to learn. Upon meeting us they would be shy, but this lasted only a few minutes until they broke into big smiles and started talking or playing with us. At the public school, there were often large classes with a range of abilities, so it was important to be creative and fun to keep the children’s attentions. There was only one English teacher for the whole school, so doing a few lessons here and there helped him, and helped the students practice their speech with a native speaker.
The Horizon Academy – Tantirimale was more structured with smaller classes. The students would come about once a week for around 2 hours. Each class was divided into Computer Class and English Class. Children in the surrounding villages have limited access to computers, so Computer Class is an important part of the program. Some students were quick to learn or already had some knowledge, while others were still learning how to use the mouse properly and select colors. Once again, they were eager to learn though and worked together in pairs or group to complete tasks set by myself or my husband. After Computer Class, we would do different English activities depending on the age and ability of the class. Once they got past their shyness, they got really involved in the games and spoke with us as much as they could. Supplies are minimal at the moment, so again it’s imperative that you are creative and fun to keep them interested and excited. Saying that, the students are so sweet it’s easy just to hang out with them and have fun.
Living with a local family is another aspect of the experience that makes it so unique. The family we stayed with were wonderful and truly made us part of their family. Even with little language between us, we were able to form a bond with them and get to understand their village and lifestyle. They were eager to learn from us but also show us about their culture which made it feel like I genuine exchange of ideas. In the village we stayed, there had not been foreigners before, so there was a lot of interest from neighbors. Often you’d find yourself sitting in a chair reading or eating being watched by a few people. It may sound uncomfortable, but they are just excited and curious. Over time they get used to you, but they’ll still give you big smile and possibly offer you food or drink. Village life is very quiet and can be far from other shops so it’s good to be aware of this beforehand. I really loved my family and it was really sad to leave them but I know I’ll always have a Sri Lankan family now.
Anne Marie Connolly – The United States of America (Volunteered in May 2017)
Pierre Plantier, from France, volunteered in Horizon Lanka Foundation for one week in May, 2017.
“My volunteering was one of many steps of an eight months trip cross Asia.
One week was too short but the experience was really interesting for me. Kids are amazing and willing to learn and have fun, the place is nice and quiet, and it’s nice to meet so many people.
In the time I was there, I didn’t have the opportunity of teaching a proper prepared lesson to the students; they were training for an event, the presentation of the Foundation, for which girls had to dance, and the two boys had to read the speech about the foundation. So I tried to help in my way when I could, but I felt like my mission was more about chilling with them and sharing things.
I felt really welcomed in Mahawilachchiya. I was staying at Nanda’s house and the meals were taken at another family. I can’t thank the lady enough for the welcome and the meals she cooked. Overall my all trip in Sri Lanka gave me a nice feeling of warm welcoming.
Before Mahawilachchiya, I was staying in another family in Rajanganaya and felt like part of the family. I enjoyed this beautiful ‘Teardrop of India’, the beauty of landscapes, lakes where I was chilling for hours in Rajanganaya, and great genuine people.
I arrived in the village Mahawilachchiya in the hottest and driest time, exhausted from previous travelling. After our introduction interview Nanda arranged my accommodation in a family I lived with for the next month. A family with two boys and a one teen girl. The father is an owner of a little shop and his wife helps him with the shop every day. They have got a large house and I had a small room just for myself. Tharushika, the oldest one from the children is a shy nature and it took a longer time to get closer to each other. Her two brothers are very friendly and we had a lot of fun with the youngest nine-year-old Dasun. It is amazing how local children are enthusiastic for a good thing, how they can laugh from the hearts and nothing is a problem for them.
I enjoyed the most nonverbal communication in everyday situations. Boys learn English in school but they are at the very beginning. I taught them with the use of English games and improved their vocabulary. They turned me Singhalese words in return. Their parents are very kind people, the father is an important member of the family and the children accept him without any doubts and questions. This attitude is very unusual in my country.
The mother took care of me as if I were a princess, she helped me with wearing a sari, served me tea and forced me to eat three times a day. I must confess myself that not even my own mother has taken care of me like this.
I was very much looking forward to the local school since I work in education. Sri Lankan elementary school is so different compared to the Czech schools. Children look much happier, friendlier, more vivid and still smiling although they must wear a hot uncomfortable uniform.
Pupils have no break between the classes, just the lunch break, which I find very tiring. And they are tired sometimes. I was teaching different age categories from the first to the eleventh class. It is known that games and education through movement are very important for children. We started every morning English lesson with a poem, then continued with an English exercise from the books and then discussed on a variety of topics or just played games, ran with practicing English words. I was very sad when I was leaving the children and judging from their reactions it was difficult for them too.
Horizon Academy, Mahawilachchiya is a pleasant place for meeting children. Children about 14 and more years visit this club the most often. I haven’t had previous experience with adolescents so I had to find some different ways how to capture their attention then by teaching English. Motivation of teen children to whatever activities is very low (what is nature in this age) so that they were tired and did not want to do anything but talking sometimes.
I learned that several of them enjoyed drawing, mostly girls, so I taught them how to paint. After the students got several tablets we could use them to different activities and competitions like taking pictures and consequent editing of the pictures.
Sri Lanka is not huge by its area but is very diverse on the other hand. If I travelled whatever direction I got to another world, everything changed from environment, climate, people and their faith. I enjoyed the delicious food, exotic fruit (jackfruit), and plethora of birds, sounds and scents. For my next life, I ensured to myself that the world is full of openhearted and generous people who take care of me as I am not able to do myself in case of need. This all belong to Sri Lanka and its original philosophy.
Thanks to all who accompanied me on this way. My decision has changed my point of view to the world and life and made me surer that hidden within us and waiting for its revelation is kindness.
Kindness rules the world if you turn to it and go in its traces. If you reveal it, it’s your duty to follow and spread it.
Pavlina Drabkova with Horizon Lanka students
Pavlina Drabkova with Horizon Lanka students
Pavlina Drabkova with Horizon Lanka students
Pavlina Drabkova with Horizon Lanka students
Přijela jsem do vesnice ve dnech největšího horka a sucha velmi unavená z předchozí cesty. Nanda po našem poznávacím rozhovoru domluvil rodinu, se kterou jsem žila jeden měsíc. Rodina se dvěmi chlapci a jednou náctiletou dívkou. Otec je vlastníkem malého obchodu a jeho žena mu v něm pomáhá každý den. Mají velký dům a já měla svůj malý pokoj jen pro sebe. Nejstarší dcera Tharushika je uzavřenější povahy a trvalo nám delší čas, než jsme se více sblížily. Její dva bratři jsou velmi přátelští a nejvíce legrace jsem si užila s tím nejmladším devítiletým Dásunem. Je úžasné, jak se místní děti umí nadchnout pro drobnou věc, jak se umí ze srdce smát a jak pro ně není nic vůbec žádný problém. Nejvíce jsem si s nimi užívala neverbální komunikace v každodeních situacích. Chlapci se anglicky ve škole učí, ale jsou teprve v začátcích. Měla jsem tu možnost zlepšovat jejich slovní zásobu a učit je pomocí her, oni mne naopak učili sinhálsky. Jejich rodiče jsou velmi milí lidé, otec je důležitou součástí rodiny a děti ho bez námitek poslouchají. V mé zemi je toto neobvyklé. Matka se o mne starala jako o princeznu, každý všední den mi pomáhala s oblékáním sárí, vařila čaj a nutila mne jíst 3 krát denně 🙂 Musím přiznat, že takto se o mne moje vlastní maminka nestarala nikdy.
Vzhledem k tomu, že pracuji v Čechách ve školství, velice jsem se těšila na místní státní školu. Základní škola na Srí lance je tak jiná než v Čechách. Děti vypadají daleko šťastnější, jsou přátelštější a stále se usmívají. I když musí nosit školní uniformu, která je velmi nepohodlná a velmi teplá v horkých dnech. Žáci nemají žádnou přestávku mezi hodinami, jen na oběd, což mi přijde velmi unávné a oni také unavení mnohdy jsou. Moje dny ve škole probíhaly tak, že jsem učila různé věkové kategorie, od 1. ročníku, až po ten poslední 11. Vím, že jsou pro děti důležité hry a výuka skrze pohyb, tak že jsme každou hodinu angličtiny začali ranní básní, pokračovali výukou angličtiny v učebnici, povídali si na různá témata, zahráli si hru nebo jsme se prostě proběhli a procvičovali při tom anglická slovíčka. Když jsem se se žáky loučila, bylo mi z toho opravdu smutno, bylo to pro mne těžké a podle reakcí dětí, bylo težké loučení i pro ně.
Horizon Lanka je příjemné místo k setkávání dětí. Do tohoto klubu chodí nejčastěji ve věku 14. let a více. Neměla jsem zkušenosti s prací dospívajích, tak že jsem hledala cesty, jak je zaujmout i jinak, než jen výukou angličtiny. Motivace pubertálních dětí k aktivitám je náročná, občas jsou unavení ze školy a chtěji si mezi s sebou jen povídat, což je přirozené pro tento věk. Nicméně jsem zjistila, že některé baví kreslení, a tak jsem několik dívek učila kreslit. Poté, co studenti dostali několik tabletů, mohli jsme je využít k různým aktivitám a soutěžím, jako je například focení nebo úprava fotografií.
Srí Lanka není rozlohou velká, ale neuvěřitelně rozmanitá. Stačí jet několik hodin jakýmkoli směrem a vše se změní, krajina, teplota, lidé a jejich víra. Velmi jsem si užila výborného jídla, exotického ovoce, nespočet druhů ptáků, zvuků a vůní. Co je důležité pro můj další život je, že jsem se ujistila, že je spousta vstřícných, otevřených lidí, kteří se o tebe v případě potřeby postarají a skoro nikdy nejsi sám. Toto vše patří Srí Lance a její původní filosofii.
Děkuji všem, kteří mne na této cestě provázeli. Moje rozhodnutí mi pozměnilo pohled na svět a utvrdilo v tom, co je skrýté uvnitř každého z nás a u některých čeká na objevení a to je DOBRO. Dobro, které také vládne ve světě, pokud se k němu obrátíš a jdeš v jeho stopách. Když ho objevíš je tvou povinností jej následovat a šířit ho dál.
Pavlina Drabkova from the Czech Republic volunteered at Horizon Lanka in April/May, 2017.
Mr. Feizal Samath is a singer and a guitarist. His passion is country music. He organizes a Country Roads Concert for Children annually through the Country Music Foundation he founded. This year’s concert was the 29th version of his untiring efforts. The concert was held on March 19, 2017 at Mount Lavinia Hotel with the participation of both local and overseas country musicians before a big crowd of country music fans.
The Foundation had decided to donate a portion of the funds collected at the event to Horizon Lanka Foundation. The rest of the funds would be donated to other children-in-need island-wide.
As promised, Mr. Samath visited Horizon Lanka today (May 14, 2017) with 5 Dialog Winpad tabs for us. We were very happy to see the tabs and we were glued to the tabs as soon as they got them. The children will master these computers in no time. The tabs are very easy to handle and can be connected to the Internet though a sim card. These are the features of this model.
1GB Free Data for 3 months & Free Carry Pouch
Intel baytrail T 3735F – 1.83GHz Quad Core
Microsoft Windows 10 (Microsoft Office included)
External microSD, up to 32 GB, 2GB LPDDR 3 RAM
We thank Mr. Samath and the Country Music Foundation for this generous donation. We will use these computers the best way and help other children also how to use the computers.
Please click these links for more information about the Country Roads Concert for Children.
Horizon Academy, Mahawilachchiya was inaugurated in August 1998 (19 years ago.) The main purpose of these educational programs were to help the children and the youth of this rural community of Mahawilachchiya, for a better future and for them to prosper in their lives with much needed English language and an ICT education.
Horizon Lanka Foundation launched its second Horizon Academy branch in Tantirimale, a rural village in Mahawilachchiya Divisional Secretariat Division. Even though there are a several small public schools in Tantirimale, English language and ICT education is a lot to be desired. Hence, the need of a supplementary educational institute such as the Horizon Academy.
Horizon Academy, Tantirimale was officially launched on May 01, 2017. More than 50 children enrolled in the Academy the first day. Yet, the Academy has only 5 computers, temporarily provided by the Horizon Academy, Mahawilachchiya. It would be very helpful to the students if some generous person or company could kindly donate computers and other necessary peripherals to this new Academy.