Mr. Léo Vincent from France volunteered at Horizon Lanka Foundation from June to July in 2019. He volunteered at Horizon Academy – Werapitiya in Kandy, Sri Lanka Read his tour report below.
VOLUNTEERING AT HORIZON LANKA
Volunteering at Horizon Lanka was a wonderful experience I would recommend to anyone! We, I and 3 other friends from France, gave English lessons to children in the public school of Dunhinna (1h30min from Kandy). We lived with our Sri Lankan hosts during all the month of our mission. They were very friendly and they provided everything we needed. We even had the opportunity to visit some places during our free time (Kandy, Trincomalee, Minneriya, etc.) We discovered a whole new culture and we saw life from another perspective. The people here are always happy even though they have nothing! If you would like to help the children and to live a life-changing experience, you should definitely consider joining Horizon Lanka.
This experience was amazing but there are always some downsides… We had very few information about our hosts and the public school. It was maybe because we were the first volunteers at Horizon Academy – Werapitiya. It was a bit like going to the unknown and it gave us some surprises… We found out that nobody speaks English in the village except the English teachers of the public school so it was a bit difficult to communicate (of course there is no data connection in the village). I think that Horizon Lanka should communicate more with the hosts in Werapitiya and also with the public school in Dunhinna so that the next volunteers can have a better experience. (Horizon Lanka’s explanation: We agree totally about not giving you sufficient info upfront. You were the first volunteer group and we should have communicated better with the host family and the public school. As for the data connection, if you bought Dialog SIMs as we advised, you wouldn’t have this problem. They cover most of Sri Lanka with very good signals.)
VOLUNTEERING AT A PUBLIC SCHOOL
I was a volunteer at Dunhinna secondary school (grade 6 to grade 12) in Werapitiya (Central Province.) Our mission was to make the children speak English. Indeed, they are used to write and copy English during their lessons but they don’t have the opportunity to speak the language.
At first, it was not easy because they were shy and they did not want to make mistakes. Thus, we used little games such as Chinese whisper, doodle, and drawing activities to make them speak and to be more confident. We even played sports like cricket and football (they didn’t know how to play football, so we had to teach them.)
The teachers at the school were very nice. They helped us during the lessons and they invited us to do activities with them outside the school.
This was a great opportunity for me to become a teacher. I enjoyed giving lessons and playing games with children. They were always asking us, I think they really enjoyed our presence at the school!
LIFE WITH OUR HOSTS
We stayed in Werapitiya at Wajira’s place. The house was very nice. He and his family provided us food in the morning, for lunch and also in the evening. They even insisted to give us the traditional Sri Lankan afternoon tea every day! They wanted to offer us the best experience of Sri Lanka and I think they did a very great job!
In addition to that, he and his friends were always ready to drive us with their three-wheeler. This was very sweet from them because it avoided us many kilometers of walk. The school is around 30/40 minutes away from our house!
Furthermore, they showed us lovely places around our location such has natural pools, the Knuckles Mountains, Kandy city, etc.
Sri Lankan people are very nice and kind. They didn’t know us but we were already part of their family. We grew strong ties with them and we really enjoyed living this month with them!
LIFE IN THE VILLAGE
We lived in Werapitiya, a very small village lost in the jungle, around 1h30min away from Kandy by car. Here you don’t have many facilities, you can either take the bus in the morning or the afternoon, you can walk or you can hire three-wheeler taxi.
Giving lessons to the children at the school was our main activity and there were not many things to do. There are some shops on the main road, close to the school. They also have a playground where you can play sports like cricket. Another activity we experienced every day was the bath and the laundry in the rivers. It is not very common for us, Europeans, but you get used to it and I have to admit, it is quite fun!
LIFE IN SRI LANKA
Sri Lankan people are very friendly and nice. They always want to invite you to take the tea or to eat in their house, even if you don’t know them!
During our stay, we took some days off to travel and to become tourists. We did the safari of Minneriya and we spent some days in Trincomalee. The landscapes are breathtaking and it changes a lot from Europe. You can explore the jungle, climb mountains to find some sacred Buddhist temples or you can also relax on the beach and swim with turtles and colorful fish. It was my first time in Asia and I really liked it!
Léo Vincent – France