Tomas Nebaznivy from the Czech Republic volunteered at Horizon Academy, Tantirimale for 27 days from 2017-05-24 to 2017-06-20.
Tomáš Nebáznivý’s Tour Report
I am probably one of the slowest reporters at Horizon Lanka since my report comes almost half a year later. Anyway, I got my memories recovered and I would like to share them with you. My aim was to put myself into a different mode and leave my comfort zone having in Prague, the Czech Republic. I found an article in the traveler´s group on Facebook two months before I came to Sri Lanka. It was from one of many Czech volunteers providing their services in Sri Lanka. To be honest, it was “love at first sight.” It was just a step to contact the founder of Horizon Lanka – Nanda. Here is the place where the story begins.
We exchanged a couple of e-mails between each other and everything was confirmed except my flight tickets. It came soon, and I knew I was able to begin my journey in May 2017. I had been volunteering in Tantirimale almost a month and this was one of the best experience in my life so far (I traveled many places in India and Asia, but nothing that breathtaking like here.)
I experienced a lot of funny moments when coming there. After the almost never-ending flight and crazy bus trip from Prague to Anuradhapura over Colombo (almost 24 hrs of nonstop traveling.) When I came to Anuradhapura and met Nanda, I was told that I am not going to Mahawilachchiya, but to Tantirimale where they recently established a new branch. It was funny because all the information handled between us before ware about the Mahawilachchiya only and no mention of the other place. Se I jumped to his Bajaj bike and we were heading to Tantirimale through heavy rain. We came totally wet there.
Before we came to my new home, we had a short stop at Horizon Lanka´s new branch in Tantirimale where I met my future friend – Sunanda. I also met Lucy from France, who was volunteering the same time, but she was in Mahawilachchiya. We met several times together to travel Anuradhapura city and couple of last days before I left Sri Lanka. It was also very nice experience. Anyway, back to the topic. After introducing each other, we finished our way at my new home, where I met my new family. They are very friendly and optimistic guys. It is a 6-member family living in one house almost at the end of a village. It was a bit tricky to deal with them, as only Nangee is speaking fluent English and the rest of the family could speak some words only. But, since you are able to use your hands to make the gestures, everything is easier.
Considering a fact that they are whatever but not rich, their hospitality was simply the greatest I could experience. They prepared amazing food all the time I was there using only fire to prepare the meals. I was teaching her daughter Sandalee, who was a bit shy when I asked her to speak English, but she loved to play games after school. Sanju and his brother were also good guys and it was kind of funny to introduce them workout with the TRX on their garden. Their father is running a small shop in the village and he was coming home late almost every day due to lack of free time. I was slightly confused seeing Nangee all the time as the housekeeper. She was very smart, her English was at very high level, but due to the local mentality (nothing against them, it´s the way of living,) she was told to stop studies and become the housekeeper. My new mother was a housekeeper too and she was also helping her husband at their school shop. I would wish all the family to have a chance to travel more in the future. I was happy that I could take at least Sandalee and her father along with us the nearby Wilpattu National Park. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any animals that time because of the hot season.
I was supposed to teach IT at the public school and IT and English at Horizon branch in Tantirimale. As this was something totally new to the locals (not like in Mahawilachchiya where they are used to foreigners/volunteers.) I was facing interesting situations. I have never been teaching children and my first English class took place when the school teacher left the class and left me there with the children alone. It was very funny to experience myself how to improvise within a couple of seconds:) Unfortunately, I was not able to take more classes in that public schools. I took about 3 classes of English. I had some ideas how to make it work for next foreigners. (I was the first one at school there), but I was unable to meet the school´s principal. I do not know the reason for that even couple months ago. I requested Sunanda (the boss of Tantirimale branch) to establish the meeting several times, but it never happened during that time. I also met their IT teacher and I very quickly understood that teaching IT there is something nearly impossible. Not only because of the English gap (teaching IT in English is much more difficult for the listeners,) but also because their hardware is soooo obsolete. It would be nice if the local government would invest more money into the IT for children because this is the way how to educate yourself quickly and to gain ideas about the rest of the world. Lot of children I spoke with want to study and work abroad to gain the life experience and to improve the Sri Lanka´s economy. The government should listen to this.
Anyway, the situation with IT infrastructure is much better in Horizon Academy so I could focus myself to teach the kids the computer basics and the older ones with the basics of the graphic design. It was difficult in the beginning because children don’t have any experience with the computers and you had to teach them from the basics. It was nice to see that even girls were happy to learn. I spent almost 6 days a week at Horizon from morning to the late afternoon. It was difficult to me from time to time, but seeing the smiles of my students was a great feeling and reward. I was not only teaching all the time. We were also playing some Europeans physical games and the children thought me their local games. I experienced many nice moments with them. I was also pleased when Sunanda told me about new IT teacher coming from Mahawilachchiya couple days in week – Jaliya. We took some classes together and I could handle the language gap much easier with his help. We could also split the classes and do more things at once.
I am so satisfied with the activities that Nanda and Sunanda are doing at both branches for the kids. Both are doing this free of charge and in their free time. They have my sincere respect for this.
I could write much more, but I don’t want to exhaust you. All I can say is, that this month was the best month in this year for me. I wish all the best to my Sri Lanka´s family and to Nanda, Sunanda, Jaliya or any other who helps them to keep Horizon Lanka growing and expanding.