Mini Concert to Say Goodbye to Foreign Volunteers Diana, Eagle, Sona and Monika – July 13, 2017

Mini Concert to Say Goodbye to Foreign Volunteers Diana, Eagle, Sona and Monika – July 13, 2017

Horizon Lanka VolunteersThe students of Horizon Academy, Mahawilachchiya, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka held a Mini Concert, the first of its kind for 2017, on July 13, 2017 at the Academy to say goodbye to four of our foreign volunteers, namely, Diana Wong Yuen Sam and Eagle Man Ho Tin from Hong Kong and Sona Forstlova and Monika Salfická from the Czech Republic. They volunteered in July, 2017 and did a lot to educate the students both at Horizon Academy and Gamini Public School in Mahawilachchiya.

All the volunteers also took part in the concert by performing along with the students of Horizon Academy and Gamini Public School in Mahawilachchiya.

See the pictures and videos of the concert items below.

Primary students at Horizon Academy, Mahawilachchiya
Primary students at Horizon Academy, Mahawilachchiya
Senior students at Horizon Academy, Mahawilachchiya dancing with volunteers
Senior students at Horizon Academy, Mahawilachchiya dancing with volunteers
Senior students at Horizon Academy, Mahawilachchiya dancing
Senior students at Horizon Academy, Mahawilachchiya dancing
Man Ho Tin Eagle at the Concert
Man Ho Tin Eagle at the Concert
Horizon Lanka Volunteers after the concert
Horizon Lanka Volunteers after the concert
Diana Wong Yuen Sam with the kids after the concert
Diana Wong Yuen Sam with the kids after the concert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

87. Sylva Tillova – The Czech Republic

Sylva Tillova

Sylva Tillova

Sylva Tillova from the Czech Republic volunteered at Horizon Lanka Foundation in July and August, 2017.

In August 2017 my daughter Nikol and I went to Sri Lanka as volunteers to help the Horizon Lanka Foundation in Mahawilachchiya. Already on arrival, the head of the Foundation Nanda Wanninayaka welcomed us on the bus. We stayed with a family and met great people.

In the morning, we attended a public school, and we had fun with the younger pupils together with English. Through a variety of games, songs, movement activities and drawing pupils slowly learned and improved their English. They have improved in all aspects of the English language such as grammar, speaking, reading and writing. Pupils were very active and curious. These children are merry, modest, but also bold and brave. In return, we met the teachers and the director, who welcomed us very warmly at their school. Together with some pupils, teachers and parents, I went for a trip to the rain forest – Sinharaja Rain Forest, where, no wonder, it rained. We visited some wonderful places and temples, the ride was one great experience, I experienced the beautiful atmosphere of local songs and dances on the bus, I experienced how these people can have fun and enjoy themselves.

Horizon Academy work took place in the Horizon Lanka building in the afternoon, where we talked with older students not only about English, about our families and life, what they wanted to be, but we also danced, sang and painted. Students are very actionable, inquisitive and diligent, constantly learning something. The Foundation also organized a trip to the temple in Tantirimale and the Wilpattu National Park, where we and other volunteers enjoyed a beautiful day of bathing in the sea. We saw many interesting animals, such as eagles, crocodiles, turtles, deer, elephants and, of course, monkeys. Including a leopard posing in front of our cameras. The whole spectacular day ended with a dinner in nature and sleeping on a tree house or on a truck.

Hosting family was great. They immediately treated me as if I was a member of their family and provided me with all possible comfort. They showed me their life including the kitchen, they taught me how to cook some meals. They took me wherever they went or went by themselves.

Thank you for this experience and the wonderful experiences, Mr. Nanda Wanninayaka.

Thank you for all the care … to the family Yamuna and her sister and her child, Upul, Pramodhya, Kaushal, their grandmother Chandra and the people around them.

I thank you to the teachers, the director, and especially all the junior and senior children I met in the public school.

Thank you.

Sylva Tillová

86. Nikola Tillova – the Czech Republic

86. Nikola Tillova from the Czech Republic

86.	Nikola Tillova from the Czech Republic

Nikola Tillova from the Czech Republic volunteered at Horizon Lanka Foundation during the months of July and August, 2017.

Volunteering at Horizon Lanka

It was interesting experience. I taught at Horizon Academy – Mahawilachchiya in the afternoon after teaching at public school in the morning. We taught English, played some games and danced. Also we did some presentations about countries and we worked with them. Children are full of joy and happiness. They all the time wanted to dance.

Nikola Tillova with Tharani, a student at Horizon Lanka
Nikola Tillova with Tharani, a student at Horizon Lanka
Nikola Tillova with Tharani, a student at Horizon Lanka
Nikola Tillova with Tharani, a student at Horizon Lanka
Nikola Tillova with Tharani, a student at Horizon Lanka
Nikola Tillova with Tharani, a student at Horizon Lanka

“Volunteering at a public school

Volunteering at a public school in Mahawilachchiya was the best experience that I ever had. It was totally different from Czech system. The main difference is that these children want to learn and they want to spend their time in school. They are smiling all the time. We played some games and we learned English every school day. I was in classes from age 6 to 10. Children here are really amazing.

Life with hosts

I spent 2 weeks in a local family with three children. I had my own room and I had everything what I needed. Family was really kind and nice. They tried to do their best. We were in a local temple for a few times. There were lot of ceremonies and it was really interesting, something that I will probably never take a part in. Also, we visited a local market with vegetables and clothes in city nearby. I learned how to cook roti with pumpkin curry and one evening we did our typical Czech food.

It was the best experience ever. Their life is so different. Everyone is smiling and they are so kind to others. I felt like I am at home.

Life in Mahawilachchiya

Life in Mahawilachchiya is so different from other cities or countries. People know each other. They are smiling all the time and they were so kind to me. Everyone tried to help me all the time. We also were in Wilpattu National Park for all day trip. We saw a lot of animals and also, we were on the beach. It was really amazing day. Also, we were in a catchment area of a reservoir in Mahawilachchiya to watch wild elephants. We saw almost 60 wild elephants in one place! And the last trip was to Tantirimale temple, we were kayaking and then we went to the tree house and had a dinner there and also we spent night there. It was the first time that I slept in a truck under the star. It was the best night ever.

Safari jeep in  Wilpattu National Park
Safari jeep in Wilpattu National Park
A leopard in Wilpattu National Park
A leopard in Wilpattu National Park
A leopard in Wilpattu National Park
A leopard in Wilpattu National Park
A leopard in Wilpattu National Park
A leopard in Wilpattu National Park

Life in Sri Lanka

After my volunteering I travelled around Sri Lanka for 2 weeks. I visited many famous places. I said to everyone who asked that I am here in Horizon Lanka Organization. Every single place that I visited was really wonderful. People are kind all around Sri Lanka and they try to help everyone. After all I can say that this experience change my view of the world and also my life. It was the best choice to spend my summer in Sri Lanka.” – Nikola Tillova – the Czech Republic

Nikol Tillová, traveling in Sri Lanka
Nikol Tillová, traveling in Sri Lanka. This is a tea plantation in Sri Lanka

 

Nikol Tillová, traveling in Sri Lanka
Nikol Tillová, traveling in Sri Lanka
Nikol Tillová, traveling in Sri Lanka
Nikol Tillová, traveling in Sri Lanka

74. Tomáš Nebáznivý – The Czech Republic

Tomas Nebaznivy

Tomas Nebaznivy

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.

Tomas Nebaznivy with the parents and the students at Horizon Academy, Tantirimale
Tomas Nebaznivy with the parents and the students at Horizon Academy, Tantirimale
Tomas Nebaznivy and Lucie Barbier with the parents and the students at Horizon Academy, Tantirimale
Tomas Nebaznivy and Lucie Barbier with the parents and the students at Horizon Academy, Tantirimale
Tomas Nebaznivy and Lucie Barbier with the parents and the students at Horizon Academy, Tantirimale
Tomas Nebaznivy and Lucie Barbier with the parents and the students at Horizon Academy, Tantirimale
Tomas Nebaznivy and Lucie Barbier with the parents and the students at Horizon Academy, Tantirimale
Tomas Nebaznivy and Lucie Barbier with the parents and the students at Horizon Academy, Tantirimale
A boy in Tantirimale riding a bicycle - Photo credits - Tomáš Nebáznivý
A boy in Tantirimale riding a bicycle – Photo credits – Tomáš Nebáznivý
Boy in Tantirimale riding bicycles to dhmma school - Photo credits - Tomáš Nebáznivý
Boy in Tantirimale riding bicycles to dhamma school – Photo credits – Tomáš Nebáznivý
A boy in Tantirimale is ready to go to dhmma school - Photo credits - Tomáš Nebáznivý
A boy in Tantirimale is ready to go to dhamma school – Photo credits – Tomáš Nebáznivý
Sandalee learning photography - Photo credits - Tomáš Nebáznivý
Sandalee learning photography – Photo credits – Tomáš Nebáznivý
Students of Horizon Academy - Photo credits - Tomáš Nebáznivý
Students of Horizon Academy – Photo credits – Tomáš Nebáznivý
Students of Horizon Academy practicing computers - Photo credits - Tomáš Nebáznivý
Students of Horizon Academy practicing computers – Photo credits – Tomáš Nebáznivý
Tomáš Nebáznivý with Horizon Academy students in Tantirimale
People in tantirimale - Photo credits - Tomáš Nebáznivý
People in tantirimale – Photo credits – Tomáš Nebáznivý
Tomáš Nebáznivý with the host family
Tomáš Nebáznivý with the host family
A captured crocodile - Photo credits - Tomáš Nebáznivý
A captured crocodile – Photo credits – Tomáš Nebáznivý
Mihintale Rock - Photo credits - Tomáš Nebáznivý
Mihintale Rock – Photo credits – Tomáš Nebáznivý
A Hindu temple - Photo credits - Tomáš Nebáznivý
A Hindu temple – Photo credits – Tomáš Nebáznivý
Monkeys - Photo credits - Tomáš Nebáznivý
Monkeys – Photo credits – Tomáš Nebáznivý

68. Pavlina Drabkova – The Czech Republic

Pavlina Drabkova

Pavlina Drabkova

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

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
Pavlina Drabkova
Pavlina Drabkova with Rajitha
Pavlina Drabkova with Rajitha
Pavlina Drabkova
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the students of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the teachers of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Pavlina Drabkova with the teachers of Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
Playing cards
Playing cards
Ambitions
Ambitions
Children of Gamini School
Children of Gamini School

Pavlina Drabkova from the Czech Republic volunteered at Horizon Lanka in April/May, 2017.

36. Kristýna Blažková – The Czech Republic

36. Kristýna Blažková – The Czech Republic

Kristýna-Blažková

Kristýna Blažková from the Czech Republic volunteered at Horizon Lanka during the months of March and April, 2016. She was a very good dancer, singer and a volleyball player. She was also featured in ITN TV in Sri Lanka. Read her story below.

“My decision to go to Sri Lanka came out of the clear blue sky. One late autumn afternoon, when I was sitting at work, I decided I want to go help somewhere in the world to help people as a volunteer. My dream continent was Asia, I opened map and I pinned my finger randomly at Sri Lanka. After that it was all pretty fast that I even didn’t think it will.

Article from the Czech volunteer Klara Gebhartova who visited Horizon Lanka before was first which grab my attention. Throughout planning I invited my longtime friend Honza who was thinking about volunteering in Asia for some time.

And that was it. We took off at the end of February and went straight for a new adventure. Having no idea what is waiting for us there.

Even the first breath of Sri Lanka had an amazing impact on us and we knew that we are going to like it very much. Different smells, glowing smiles and hot night (full of mosquitos) welcomed us right after our landing. We were literally stunned, as we were in completely different world. Long and tiring journey by bus was the only thing which was separated us from village called Mahawilachchiya which was our destination.

As soon as we came there we were warmly welcomed by our future students from Horizon Lanka and Nanda who is the founder of this amazing non-profit organization. We get to know by each other by playing simple games and we were hosted by one of the Horizon Lanka students’ family.

In this very family, our 2nd own family as we call them now, we became the happiest people in Sri Lanka. It was the best way how to get into their hearts and also into every day of Sri Lankans. We had the chance to get familiar with their traditional food which was made for us with the family love, their customs, everyday troubles and happy moments. We became ones of them. I’ll never forget the moments we were going to have baths in the canals which were providing water for the rice fields, where we had so much fun every day. The moments when their eyes were shining with happiness when they saw me dressed in their traditional bath robe called “cheeththa”. When we were washing our hair by the sunset and we were telling various stories.

With great love I remember the mornings when we were sitting under the tall palms in complete silence in front our house just enjoying black tea with milk and we couldn’t wait till the next day.

Our everyday program was teaching English in my case in local school. And in the afternoon again extra classes of English, ICT and in my case dance classes. Sometimes we just went to play cricket, American football or volleyball. When it was too hot outside we didn’t hesitate and took our bikes and went straight to have a bath.

The time I spent at local school and also at Horizon Lanka was very beneficial for me. I enjoyed every single moment till my last. While I am studying pedagogical university which I hope I’ll finish next year this was also a valuable lesson about I decided to write a diploma thesis and to compare educational systems in our country and in Sri Lanka.

This is one of my diary records:

“My deardiary.

Today is my last day of school. No no! I’m not going there like a pupil. Don’t misunderstand! But like a teacher. It will be already 2 months which the most beautiful faces and smiles have been welcoming me around 8.00 am every morning. I was writing about it many times you know that. I’ll go to our staff room and during that I will chat with everybody on my way. I’m gonna be boiling in my pink sari cause outside is around 35° Celsius again. But I know teachers and students will appreciate it and shout on me!

“Lasenaj!” (It means beautiful in Sinhala.)

I’m looking forward to our dancing room too. We’ll have so much fun there. On lunch break I will drink a hot cup of tea and eat something really spicy and I’m gonna be sweating and crying all the time. But it belongs to that. (You have to handle it.)

“Kristyna teacher!” Like always, grade 8 is shouting. There are so many students in class.

“Kristyna teacher, come! Selfie, game! Hi. Bye. Ene!”

Then, they will offer me really sour fruit. I’ll waste it inconspicuously. I hope that they won’t see that.

“Kristyna teacher! Dance please!”

Okey! Herewe go!! J

You know I’ll miss them. Also the baby. She is crying after she saw me. It’ s pathetic. I’m done.

I’m crying. “Bye!”

I think this note speaks for itself, that uncountable moments starting with smiles full of love from the villagers up until the innocent and grateful looks from our little students. Until today I remember with tears in my eyes. I’d like to see them again.

This story of my life had a major impact on me and I am convinced that this was not last time I visited Sri Lanka.

By this I would like to thank to the people who were part of this great journey. On the first place to Honza who lived this amazing journey with me and was all the time by my side, amazing Nanda who made this possible and who let us live through something amazing, our loving family, teachers and of course to amazing kids.

I still have thousands and thousands of memories that I could write a book about the all things we experienced in Sri Lanka.”

Just after the arrival to Horizon Lanka
Just after the arrival to Horizon Lanka
At Horizon Lanka
At Horizon Lanka
At Horizon Lanka
At Horizon Lanka
Dance practice at Horizon Lanka
Dance practice at Horizon Lanka
Playing keyboard at Horizon Lanka
Playing keyboard at Horizon Lanka
Enjoying music with Ben
Enjoying music with Ben
With her ukulele
With her ukulele
At Horizon Lanka
At Horizon Lanka
With the students in Thakshila School, Mahawilachchiya
With the students in Thakshila School, Mahawilachchiya
With the students in Thakshila School, Mahawilachchiya
With the students in Thakshila School, Mahawilachchiya
With the teachers in Thakshila School, Mahawilachchiya
With the teachers in Thakshila School, Mahawilachchiya
With the students in Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
With the students in Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
With the students in Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
With the students in Gamini School, Mahawilachchiya
In the reservoir sluice gate
In the reservoir sluice gate
Bowling in cricket
Bowling in cricket
Playing soccer
Playing soccer
Playing soccer
Playing soccer
American football
American football
After sports
After sports
In a Sri Lankan sari
In a Sri Lankan sari
In a Sri Lankan sari
In a Sri Lankan sari
In a Sri Lankan sari
In a Sri Lankan sari
With Honza
With Honza
With Ben
With Ben
With Honza and Ben
With Honza and Ben

Meeting My Long Lost younger sister, Klára Gebhartová

Klara Gebhartova with the students of Horizon Lanka

Klara Gebhartova with the students of Horizon Lanka

I have three older sisters, but do not have a younger sister. I always wished, how wonderful it would have been if I ever had one. But when Miss Klára Gebhartová from the Czech Republic came to stay at my home to teach at Horizon Lanka last August, I had a strange feeling that I was meeting my long lost younger sister.

Klara was a final year medical student at prestigious Charles University in Prague. She came to us at a time we were struggling as an organization, both financially and academically. But she changed that negative atmosphere prevailing at the time, into a positive one by working earnestly both with the children and the staff. She won the hearts of the children and the parents, by having a natural smile at all times. She did not confine her teaching to the classrooms alone, but taught the children while walking around the village in the very hot sun in the month of August. The number of children at Horizon Lanka too started increasing day by day.

At that time, I was tied up with writing a lengthy funding proposal, therefore she was on her own. Hence she did not have my guidance for her work schedule.  She scheduled her lessons and classes the way she and the children wished and consulted me only when she felt that she needed my advice.

The only time we could talk at length was during our meals. I joined her during almost all meals and we would talk about the difference of cultures in our two countries. Klara was not interested in Czech politics, which I was interested in. I could understand the reasons for it. She was born in the post-communist era.  Hence, could not comment on the communist era much. My late father being a hardcore communist, I had enough communist literature lying around our home which I read since I was a kid and knew much more than Klara did about Czech politics I guess.

Within a few days of our mealtime informal talks, Klara started asking endless questions on Buddhism. Coming from one of the most atheistic countries, I was surprised by her logical questions. I answered with the limited knowledge I had and for the rest, I referred the questions to friends with better knowledge of Buddhism. Her inquisitive questions and my modest researched answers made her devotee of Buddhism I guess. She started meditating at dawn and walked to the nearby Buddhist temple several times.

Like most of the other Czech volunteers, Klara was a good sportswoman. A good volleyball player too. Volleyball is not something I fancied so I wanted to get her into playing cricket with us. She mastered the game of cricket – probably the most complicated game in the world – very quickly and started hitting unstoppable boundaries and sixes. She had played baseball so she had a better grip of the bat and thrashed the ball out of the park most of the times. She was an all-rounder in cricket. She batted vigorously, bowled fast balls and fielded professionally. Thanks to her, the girls at Horizon Lanka too started playing cricket than their favorite game, volleyball.

One of her requests to me was that, I should resume drawing pictures like I used to do before I was introduced to computers in 1999. I promised I would do a painting before the end of 2015 which I could not accomplish. But maybe, before the end of this year I might do so.

At my request, Klara brought me a good book, “The Czechs in a Nutshell” which I am still reading. I wish I could read this faster, but with the backlog of 10 years of work at Horizon Lanka, I do not have the luxury of reading as fast as I used to be in the past.

Klara was one of the smartest female volunteers that I met at Horizon Lanka. I wish I had more time to spend/work with her, but my tight schedule at the time did not allow me to do so. I know she would be a wonderful doctor soon (and hopefully, would volunteer at Horizon Lanka once again.)

Now Klara is the “Official Ambassador” of Horizon Lanka for the Czech Republic. Whenever someone from her country talks to me about volunteering at Horizon Lanka, I immediately direct him or her to Klara and she ensures she always has tome to help out the new volunteer as she knows what and what not to do here in Mahawilachchiya.

I wanted to call her “Nangi” (Sinhala for younger sister), but was bashful to ask her if it was alright to call her that. But after she left, I asked the question with a lot of hesitation over a Facebook chat and she was over the moon, once I did so. Now I call her “Nangi” and she calls me “Ayya” (Sinhala for older brother.)

After 6 weeks, it was difficult to say goodbye to each other and when she had to do so. Just before leaving she knelt down in front of me, with her palms together in worshipful greeting, which is a customary traditional Sri Lankan custom, akin to Western custom of wishing Good Bye (abridged:  God be with you.) Usually this happens when a younger sister leaves home after marriage.  Klara did so in the presence of a big audience at the Mahawilachchiya Rural Hospital. I was flabbergasted and tried my best to stop her doing that, but she would not heed.

All I want now is to be present at her wedding someday and give her a good hug when she leaves with her future husband. Well, only if I am granted a visa to the Czech Republic. Let’s hope for the best.

Klara, Lubomir and I at Mahawilachchiya Rural Hospital

Klára Gebhartová with the students of Horizon Lanka
Klára Gebhartová with the students of Horizon Lanka
Klára Gebhartová at Horizon Lanka a
Klára Gebhartová at Horizon Lanka a
Klára Gebhartová with the students of Horizon Lanka
Klára Gebhartová with the students of Horizon Lanka