Ms Champika Bandara from Aurora, Chicago, Illinois the United States of America volunteered at Horizon Lanka Foundation in July, 2017.
“I have been living in the United States for 16 years and every other summer my family and I go back my birthplace of Sri Lanka to visit our family. However, this time, my son Thimira Bandara had the idea to help out and give back to the people of Sri Lanka. Since 2001 we had been helping the Horizon Lanka Foundation by giving donations but, we never had gone to their schools and helped out. So, this time, when we went to Sri Lanka, I thought it was a good idea to actually go to the schools and help out with my son.
Our plan was to leave Colombo on a Thursday night and reach Anuradhapura Friday morning. This gave us enough time to see all the Buddhist monuments, like the Ruwanweli Seya stupa and the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi. After we had time to worship, the next day we were off to Tantirimale, a small farming village an hour from Anuradhapura. We arrived around 10:30 and as soon as we came, the children seemed to be ecstatic to see us. In fact, they had arrived at 7:30 out of sheer enthusiasm to learn. This isn’t seen much in the western world, as everything is handed and opportunities are can be found everywhere. Seeing the dedication in these kids made me feel very happy as it reminded to me of my teaching years when I used to run a Montessori from my house in Kadawatha. It has always been a goal of mine to educate Sri Lanka’s young people because in the future we will depend on them to keep our beautiful country running.
At first, we played fun games, sang songs and danced all to get to know the children and to make them feel comfortable with us. Then, later in the day and the next day, while my son taught computers to the older kids, I had an open discussion with the smaller children on what they wanted to be when they grow older. With this I gave them advice on how to be helpful individuals to their communities and their country. I taught them about the importance of keeping their environment clean and being kind to others. I believe it is important to emphasize this with children because they are our future.
Even though the conflict (Civil War) in the area has been over for a while and the town of Tantirimale seems to be more advanced than ever before, the people there still face many hardships. When talking to the locals many mentioned the water issue and the lack of resources needed to take care of their crops. Amazingly, the village is beautiful nonetheless, however with such hardships, it is only fair that the children receive the best education possible. Thanks to Mr. Wanninayaka and his volunteers, Tantirimale is becoming a wonderful institution for kids to learn computers and English, which is a necessary skill in the real life.
Overall my experience with the foundation and the children was wonderful. Not only was I able to teach the children but they were also able to teach my son and I a few things. I am hoping more Sri Lankans here in the United States and other countries will come together and help out the future of Sri Lanka. There are many more things these children could use, from books to laptops, and from what I have seen these children will put good use to them.”
Champika Sumithraarachchi – the United States of America