Nanda Wanninayaka’s Presentation on “ICT and Automation for Rural Development.”

Nanda Wanninayaka’s Presentation on “ICT and Automation for Rural Development.”

Nanda Wanninayaka – Chairman of the Horizon Lanka Foundation

Following is the succinct transcription of the presentation on ICT & Automation for Rural Development made by me (Nanda Wanninayaka),  at the Galadari Hotel in Colombo on December 22, 2018 at the International Conference on Information and Automation for Sustainability (ICIAfS) – 2018.

Nanda Wanninayaka

 “Good evening everybody. I am not certain as to why Dr. Thrishantha Nanayakkara invited me to do a presentation at an Engineers Symposium as I am not an engineer but only an artist.

I usually do not do my presentations with Microsoft PowerPoint because
Edward Tufte said, “Power corrupts and PowerPoint corrupts absolutely.” Therefore, let us watch this video made by volunteer Pakistani artists who visited the Horizon Lanka Foundation in 2015 as it is played in the background, with a reduced soundtrack while my speech goes on.

We started Horizon Academy in Mahawilachchiya 20 years ago and now, we have branched out to 5 villages in Anuradhapura, Nuwara Eliya and Jaffna districts providing English (and other languages), ICT (and other technologies) while entertaining extracurricular activities such as playschool, fine arts, and sports.

We utilize local and foreign volunteers’ contributions extensively in our teaching. Local university students, young professionals from the IT industry and other areas of interest teach the students free of charge during weekends and also, scores of foreign volunteers teach the students during weekdays. These are still largely untapped talent that has enormous potential to take education in Sri Lanka to the next level.

At Horizon Academies we offer “edutainment” rather than the boring teaching methods used in traditional classroom-based education offered at public schools and at private tuition institutes. There is no point in repeating the public-school syllabuses, textbooks and past examination papers targeting term tests and national level exams which are once again repeated at a faster pace at private tuition classes all over again. We do not even touch those at Horizon Academies. We don’t assign homework to the students. We teach in a natural environment outside classrooms. Kids play, walk around the village, go bathing/swimming in rivers and lakes, go shopping, watch movies, go on field trips & so forth with the teachers and they learn languages and technology while doing such entertaining and exciting activities. Horizon Academy’s tagline is “The Edutainment Academy of Sri Lanka.”

Thanks to these non-conventional methods, the sons and daughters of farmers, laborers, fishermen & traders ended up being software & network engineers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, teachers and professionals in other fields. Now I am very happy to hear them speak better English than I do. They have built houses, purchased vehicles and have married early (unlike waiting till the mid-30s like me), they have become totally independent at a younger age.

We at Horizon Lanka, use a lot of modern technologies for teaching. We use the internet, emailing, Instant Messenger (IM) programs, smartphones for teaching in innovative ways. We covered Mahawilachchiya with a village-wide free unlimited Wi-Fi mesh network way back in 2006, 10 years before the present government introduced limited free Wi-Fi to some hotspots in cities in Sri Lanka.

Wi-Fi Mesh Network in Mahawilachchiya – English

Wi-Fi Mesh Network in Mahawilachchiya – Sinhala

We invited Mr. Lalith Weeratunga, the then Secretary to the President, in his capacity as the Chairman of the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC) since he helped getting the permission to deploy the network in Mahawilachchiya during the war time and in addition, he was a well-wisher of Horizon Lanka for a long time.


Mr.
Lalith Weeratunga at Horizon Lanka Foundation, Mahawilachchiya

When he visited Mahawilachchiya to officially commission the free Wi-Fi network, we trained 3 girls & 3 boys who were 11-year-olds to do the presentation in English by utilizing laptops and slides. Mr. Weeratunga was pleasantly surprised and reported this to the then President Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa about how effective & progressive Horizon Lanka Foundation was in education and technology in Mahawilachchiya. President Rajapaksa, in his capacity of the Finance Minister, included a proposal into the national budget of 2007 to allocate 100 million LKR to replicate Horizon Lanka model academies in each 300 + Divisional Secretariat Divisions in Sri Lanka. The budget was passed with a heavy majority but alas! Not a single cent came our way to Mahawilachchiya or elsewhere as a very obnoxious Sri Lankan IT professor exercised his despicable powers over the President and sabotaged the whole plan. This odious man died a few months later but did enough damage before exiting the planet.

We did not ask for the government’s help. But I know Mr. Weeratunga, in all honesty, & sincerity, desired to help and this was the reason he influenced the President. But what happened was a total tragedy for Horizon Lanka, when the government and media published this “100-million-LKR allocation” story all our regular donors came under the impression that Horizon Lanka was now well funded & taken care of, hence they diverted their help to other organizations and we were the ultimate losers.

When I was absolutely convinced that the “100-million-LKR” promise was false   (like many similar ones) and we had already lost our regular donors, I spoke to one of the officers at the Presidential Office and inquired whether I could publish a story on our website about the broken promise so that the rest of the world & our former donors would become aware of what exactly took place. But he stated something to the effect that if I did that, I would be considered as a “persona non grata” who discredits the government and will be dealt with. Well, we all know what this meant during those times.

The end result of all this being; Horizon Lanka Foundation’s funding dried up and all the good work was downgraded, eventually having to close for 3 years before we resumed it in 2014 with hardly any money in the bank account.

That, my dear friends, reminded me of one of the most famous quotes by the late American President Mr. Ronald Reagan. He said, “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

Therefore friends, if you want to do anything for this country, do it before the government messes it up. 
Thank you very much for your attention.”

Ronald Reagan
Dr. Thrishantha Nanayakkara
A part of the audience at International Conference on Information and Automation for Sustainability (ICIAfS) – 2018

Horizon Academy – Kirimetiya, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka Needs Some Used Computers and a Multimedia Projector

Jan Sebelik with the students of Horizon Academy - Kirimetiya

Jan Sebelik with the students of Horizon Academy - Kirimetiya

“We need (at least) some used computers and a multimedia projector so we can easily improve our English knowledge and practice IT skills. In a small time period, we could understand better and get more knowledge in our lessons. Because Kirimetiya is an underprivileged area, many students have to use only one borrowed computer together. Many students would like to work with laptops and every student needs one computer to make their own PowerPoint presentations. We can then easily store our work in the machine and show our presentations and submit new projects. It would be easier for our teachers to teach us and time management would be easier.”

Written by R. Dhanusha (22) and S. Sharmila (27), students of Horizon Academy – Kirimetiya near Nuwara Eliya, who have finished A/L and now looking for a job.

Edited by Ms. Veronika Sykorova and Mr. Jan Sebelik from the Czech Republic, volunteering teachers at Horizon Academy

Related photos & videos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/zDLswRdvFnok49sX8 by Jan & Veronika

Ms. Veronika Sykorova with the students of Horizon Academy - Kirimetiya
Ms. Veronika Sykorova with the students of Horizon Academy – Kirimetiya

Donate “Essential English Grammar” books by Raymond Murphy for Horizon Academy – Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Raymond-Murphy-Maniyanthoddam-0
Raymond-Murphy-Maniyanthoddam-0

From the inception that I became a teacher of the English language in 1997, I have used this book “Essential English Grammar” by Raymond Murphy, with students from ages 11 to 19 years [Grade Six to High School (Advanced Level in Sri Lanka)]. This book is inexpensive in Sri Lanka, the cost of one copy being 375 LKR or 2.23 USD, 1.89 EUR. Yet, for the most of the students at Horizon Academy – Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna, Sri Lanka, even this is beyond their parents’ means as they do not have a regular source of income, most being day laborers.

Having heard of this situation, Mr. Nalaka Jayarathne, a former student of mine from Niwaththaka Chethiya High School in Anuradhapura, now a software engineer in Singapore, sent 4,000 LKR which enabled us to buy 10 Essential English Grammar books and also one English /Tamil dictionary which usually costs 750 LKR or 45 USD, 3.79 EUR. Ten copies of this book and one dictionary were purchased (with the discount the bookshop in Jaffna offered us for buying 10 books). We distributed these books amongst the senior students who are getting ready to sit the G. C. E. Ordinary Level (a national level examination held this December.) Grade 10, 11 and 12 students. The aim is to complete this book by December. This is mainly a self-study book with ample exercises on basic English grammar. Also, local and foreign volunteer teachers will help the students. The answers and very valuable appendixes are given at the end of the book.

Since Grade 6, 7, 8 and 9 students also wanted the book – they are smarter than the senior students in English – Mr. Lionel Balasuriya, a Sri Lankan American from California, USA, also immediately sent money, sufficient for 10 Essential English Grammar books. These 20 books would be adequate for the students for the present time.

There is also another an adult women’s English class at the Horizon Academy – Maniyanthoddam, solely handled by the foreign volunteer teachers at the Academy and there are around 10 young and middle-aged women in this class. It would be ideal if anyone could please donate 4,000 LKR, [23.74 USD, 20.22 EUR] for us to buy another 10 Essential English Grammar books and one copy of the English to Simple English/Tamil dictionary too. Thank you

Nanda Wanninayaka, Founder & the Chairman of Horizon Lanka Foundation nanda@horizonlanka.org.

Happy 12th graders of Horizon Academy - Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna Sri Lanka with the “Essential English Grammar” book by Raymond Murphy.
Happy 12th graders of Horizon Academy – Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna Sri Lanka with the “Essential English Grammar” book by Raymond Murphy.
“Essential English Grammar” book by Raymond Murphy

Lessons with “Essential English Grammar” by Raymond Murphy

Lessons with “Essential English Grammar” by Raymond Murphy

Lessons with “Essential English Grammar” by Raymond Murphy

Lessons with “Essential English Grammar” by Raymond Murphy
“Essential English Grammar” by Raymond Murphy
“Essential English Grammar” by Raymond Murphy
Little Lifco English-Tamil Dictionary
Little Lifco English-Tamil Dictionary

Sihini Brings New Dreams to Gamini Public School, Mahawilachchiya, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

Sihini Atalugama


Sihini Atalugama

Miss Sihini Atalugama is a Sri Lankan American teenage girl living in Tampa, Florida, the United States of America. Her parents, Lalani and Asela Atalugama had been helping Horizon Lanka since 2002 by providing scholarships to the students of Horizon Academy – Mahawilachchiya.

Last June, Sihini visited Mahawilachchiya with her younger brother Thehan Atalugama and her parents on a week-long volunteering assignment. Since Horizon Academy in Mahawilachchiya was grooming Gamini Public School as a “sister school” by providing foreign volunteers, IT related equipment, musical instrument, etc. to this school, the Horizon Lanka Foundation directed Sihini to volunteer at this school which brought immense benefits to the school.

Sihini and her brother taught English to the students here. Sihini also initiated a program to provide financial scholarships to the students of this school by launching Bright Light Foundation on her own initiative with little guidance from her parents. Visit www.brightlightconnect.org and assist her in this boundless initiative. She hopes to raise funds for the scholarships program through her website and direct the funding to brighten the lives of the students in this small school in which around 200 students’ study.

On top of all these Sihini’s parents donated money to the school to buy a few dictionaries, sports jerseys and shorts for the school volleyball team and also some school supplies and USB pen drives to the school. They also brought reading glasses from the USA and distributed them among the villagers in Dunumandalawa, Mahawilachchiya.

Sihini also hopes to raise funds to provide an air conditioner to Gamini School’s computer lab in the future. There are a few other projects lined up for the school if the school authorities show that the funds are managed transparently and utilized effectively for the benefit of the students and the school.

Pramodhya Gunarathna pramodhya.umayangani.gunarathna@horizonacademy.lk – Grade 10 – Horizon Academy – Mahawilachchiya

Sihini Atalugama with the students of Gamini Public School, Mahawilachchiya
Sihini Atalugama with the students of Gamini Public School, Mahawilachchiya
Sihini Atalugama in the USA
Sihini Atalugama in the USA
Distribution of reading glasses to the villagers in Duunumandalawa, Mahawilachchiya
Distribution of reading glasses to the villagers in Duunumandalawa, Mahawilachchiya

Horizon Academy – Maniyanthoddam, Nallur, Jaffna Needs Your Support

maniyanthoddam-girls

maniyanthoddam-girlsHorizon Lanka Foundation started its fifth Horizon Academy in Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna, Nallur, Sri Lanka in June, 2018. Father S. M. Sebastian OMI, Parish Priest who is a dynamic priest who does a lot for the students and the community at large in the village through his hard work. He already had another academy called Eugene Academy and all we had to do was to use its premises and resources to establish Horizon Academy there.

The running cost of the Horizon Academy here per month is around 25,000 LKR | 156.68 USD | 133.90 EUR. This cannot be recovered from the students as their parents get a very low salary or in most cases, no salary at all. Besides, this is a village that was reduced to rubble during the bitter civil war and people still face a lot of financial issues. So, we have decided not to charge a fee from the students here till the end of December here. After that, we will charge 100 LKR | 0.63 USD | 0.54 EUR per month from a student. If we get 100 students per month, we would be able to get only 10,000 LKR | 62.67 USD | 53.56 USD. This will cover part of the monthly expenses from January, 2019.

Since we cannot afford to pay the teachers, we depend on local and foreign volunteers to teach English and ICT here. So far, three foreign volunteers have taught the children in this Academy. They were Ms. Clara Charriere, Ms. Pauline Oswald and Ms. Laurie Kuhne from France and Ms. Ashwini Balan from Singapore. Ms. Emilie Østmo from Norway is the present volunteer here. We expect more local and foreign volunteers to join us soon.

The foreign volunteers teach English free of charge in the public schools in the mornings and this is totally free of charge for all the students in those schools. The students come to Horizon Academy in the evenings. Foreign volunteers teach throughout the week days and local volunteers can help teach these students English, ICT, science, mathematics, fine arts and sports during weekends. For the local volunteers, the villagers will provide food and accommodation free of charge. (Foreign volunteers pay the host families for their food and accommodation.)

The students have to pay the above fee for attending Horizon Academy from January, 2019 as there are some costs involved in the Academy such as electricity, internet, telephone, stationary, transport, entertaining guests, etc. So, if any of you could help us with these expenses, please email us on info@horizonlanka.org. (All contributions and expenses will be recorded, audited and shared with the donors and other stakeholders.)

Nanda Wanninayaka, The Founder and the Chairman of the Horizon Lanka Foundation

Ms. Emilie Østmo, the Norwegian volunteer teaching the students of Horizon Academy - Maniyanthoddam, Nallur, Jaffna
Ms. Emilie Østmo, the Norwegian volunteer teaching the students of Horizon Academy – Maniyanthoddam, Nallur, Jaffna

Ms. Emilie Østmo teaching the students of Horizon Academy - Maniyanthoddam, Nallur, Sri Lanka
Ms. Emilie Østmo teaching the students of Horizon Academy – Maniyanthoddam, Nallur, Sri Lanka

The students learning English at Horizon Academy - Maniyanthoddam, Nallur, Sri Lanka
The students learning English at Horizon Academy – Maniyanthoddam, Nallur, Sri Lanka

The students of Horizon Academy - Maniyanthoddam, Nallur, Sri Lanka
The students of Horizon Academy – Maniyanthoddam, Nallur, Sri Lanka

Horizon Academy – Kirimetiya, Nanu Oya, Nuwara Eliya Needs Your Support

The students of Horizon Academy - Nanu Oya with the staff members

Horizon Lanka Foundation started its fourth Horizon Academy in Nanu Oya, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka in May, 2018. 

The general belief of rest of the country is that the children here in tea estates in the Up Country are not ready to learn and they dropout from schools at a young age and directly join the work at tea estates or elsewhere. But, what I saw was totally different. The kids and the parents here pay a great attention to education and some kids even speak some basic English.

Since we cannot afford to pay the teachers, we depend on local and foreign volunteers to teach English and ICT here. So far, three foreign volunteers have taught the children in this area. They were Mr. Alain Horst and Ms. Laura Horst from Switzerland in May and Ms. Balbina Gramespacher from Germany in July. We expect more local and foreign volunteers to join us soon.

The running cost of the Horizon Academy here per month is around 25,000 LKR | 156.68 USD | 133.90 EUR. This cannot be recovered from the students as their parents get a very low salary. One estate worker gets only an average salary of 650 LKR | 4.07 USD | 3.48 EUR per day. Still, if education is provided totally free of charge, they would not understand the value of it. So, we decided to charge 100 LKR | 0.63 USD | 0.54 EUR per month. If we get 100 students per month, we would be able to get only 10,000 LKR | 62.67 USD | 53.56 USD. We cannot expect that many students initially. Our aim is to attract that number of students by December, 2018.

The foreign volunteers teach English free of charge in the public schools in the mornings and this is totally free of charge for all the students in those schools. The students come to Horizon Academy in the evenings. Foreign volunteers teach throughout the week days and local volunteers can help teach these students English, ICT, science, mathematics, fine arts and sports during weekends. For the local volunteers, the villagers will provide food and accommodation free of charge. (Foreign volunteers pay the host families for their food and accommodation.)

The students have to pay the above fee for attending Horizon Academy as there are some costs involved in the Academy such as electricity, Internet, telephone, stationary, transport, entertaining guests, etc. So, if any of you could could help us with these expenses, please email us on info@horizonlanka.org. (All contributions and expenses will be recorded, audited and shared with the donors and other stakeholders.)

Nanda Wanninayaka – Chairman of Horizon Lanka Foundation

The students of Horizon Academy – Nanu Oya with the staff members

Students of Horizon Academy -Nanu Oya
Students of Horizon Academy -Nanu Oya

Mr. Nanda Wanninayaka with the students
Mr. Nanda Wanninayaka with the students

Desford School, Nanu Oya
Desford School, Nanu Oya

Opening a Horizon Academy Branch in Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Father S. M. Sebastian

Father S. M. Sebastian

Nanda Wanninyaka, Founder and Chairman of the Horizon Lanka Foundation

Horizon Lanka Foundation (HLF) was inaugurated in 1998 under the shade of a mango tree in my garden at Mahawilachchiya. The day I started the HLF, I did dream of starting similar academies in Jaffna & Nuwara Eiya where the majority of ethnic minorities reside in Sri Lanka.

But it took me 20 years to realize two of these dreams, thanks to this gentleman named Mr. Gunasegaran Ponniah from Nanu Oya, Nuwara Eliya. He had sent me a letter sometime back in 2014 and sought my help for the public school where he was a teacher at the time.  His was a snail mail, I forgot (or ignored) to answer. It happens with most of the snail mails I (rarely) get. Besides, we were not in a position to help any others at that time, as the HLF too was struggling to survive at the time. (I now strongly believe that I should have answered his letter even with a negative message.)

Sometime in 2015,  when the students were doing a ‘clean up’ of the Horizon Academy – Mahawilachchiya, one of the girls showed me Gnasegaran’s letter (which was to go to the dustbin, but was destined for something greater), which  I was forced  to answer. Since there was a telephone number, I called Gunasegaran and he answered.  I apologized for not answering his mail and told him that I will not be able to do much without visiting his village. I casually asked him to call me on Fridays to check if I can make it to his village in Nuwara Eliya. Would you believe it?  That he called me  every Friday and reminded me about my (possible) visit for two long years,  till I actually managed to visit him on the Sri Lankan New Year day this April with one of my German volunteer’s;  19-year-old Miss Pauline Dinkel? Such was his commitment, I felt really bad for not visiting him earlier.

With Gunasegaran’s tireless efforts we started a Horizon Academy franchise in Nanu Oya last May with the arrival of two Swiss volunteers Mr. Alain Horst & Mrs. Laura Horst. The official launch will be organized soon. While speaking with Gunasegaran, I asked if he has any contacts in Jaffna who would like to join us to start a Horizon Academy there and he readily introduced Father S. M. Sebastian to me from a little hamlet called Maniyanthoddam in Jaffna. I communicated with the latter via the phone and he sounded the ideal person to have from Jaffna as he commands a lot of respect from the village and elsewhere and also he has amazing organizing skills. He was so patient and soft-spoken and always made allowances for my hasty and abrupt decisions and arrangements.

We scheduled a visit to Maniyanthoddam during a weekend with our foreign volunteers. But I could not make it as I fell ill. But the foreign volunteers from the HLF went ahead with the visit and did a marvelous job by meeting with Father Sebastian and the people there and convincing the people there the importance of stating a Horizon Academy franchise in Maniyanthoddam. Our French volunteer, brave Miss Clara Charrière, a 19-year-old charming young lady from France, instantly decided that she would volunteer in this former troubled land, which was reduced to rubble during the 30-year-old civil war. (All I see in her is the same determination shown by Sarah Jordan Beauford (Angelina Jolie) in the Hollywood movie “Beyond Borders,” a terrific movie made on volunteering in hostile lands.)  Luckily for her, Jaffna is not hostile or troubled anymore. People in Maniyanthoddam, Jaffna are very friendly and helpful. I especially like the young there, who ride their motorbikes quite fast at night and still have some time to share a smile with us.

I eventually did visit Maniyanthoddam on May 19th with Clara and Mr. Sagara Kularathna, an employee at Dialog Axiata who was an adult student of mine some years ago and mastered English at a record speed and Miss Paulin Oswald, another 19-year-old French volunteer of Horizon Lanka, who also joined us and said she would love to volunteer at Maniyanthoddam with Clara.

We did a presentation to the students and the parents about HLF and its achievements and the franchise system that we recently introduced to expand the Horizon Academies throughout the island. Clara and Pauline stayed back in Maniyanthoddam at two students’ homes and Sagara and I returned to our respective residences in Colombo and Mahawilachchiya.  On the following Sunday May 26th Sagara and I visited Maniyanthoddam once again , this time Sagara donated his Wi-Fi connection as a personal gift to the Horizon Academy in Maniyanthoddam. All of us trained the children in some dance items and the announcements for the Official Opening Ceremony of the Horizon Academy – Maniyanthoddam on Saturday 02, June, 2018.

Today I am going to Maniyanthoddam with a few teenage students and their parents and these students will perform with the students from Maniyanthoddam at the Opening Ceremony we have scheduled at 6.00 pm on Saturday 02, June. Please join us at that time and if everything goes as planned, we will livestream the two-hour Opening Ceremony and the concert through Facebook. You may subscribe to my official FB stream at https://www.facebook.com/nanda.wanninayaka.official and that of the Horizon Lanka’s at https://www.facebook.com/horizonlankafoundation/.

Paulin Oswald and Clara Charrière at the Raiway Station, Anuradhapura to board a train to Jaffna
Paulin Oswald and Clara Charrière at the Raiway Station, Anuradhapura to board a train to Jaffna

Mr. Nanda Wanninayaka doing the presentation while Father Sebastian translating it into Tamil
Mr. Nanda Wanninayaka doing the presentation while Father Sebastian translating it into Tamil

Local and foreign volunteers at the presentation
Local and foreign volunteers at the presentation

Proposed building for Horizon Academy - Maniyanthoddam
Proposed building for Horizon Academy – Maniyanthoddam

Volunteers and the staff of Horizon Academy - Maniyanthoddam
Volunteers and the staff of Horizon Academy – Maniyanthoddam

Miss Clara Charrière at her host's house
Miss Clara Charrière at her host’s house

Miss Pauline Oswald at her host 's house
Miss Pauline Oswald at her host ‘s house

Pauline with her new friend
Pauline with her new friend

Having dinner with Father Sebastian after work.
Having dinner with Father Sebastian after work.

Roads in Maniyanthoddam
Roads in Maniyanthoddam

151. Alain Horst – Switzerland

Alain Horst – Switzerland

Alain Horst – Switzerland

Mr. Alain Horst from Switzerland volunteered at Horizon Lanka Foundation in May, 2018.

TOUR REPORT 

“Dear Nanda

We thank you for the opportunity you gave us to teach English here in Sri Lanka. We learned a lot about the country and its people. We were astonished how greatly we had been welcomed in the village, especially in Segars house and how keen the children were to learn new things. Without knowing English and the western culture, Segars parents had been amazing hosts. Even though our stay had many positive aspects, we decided to leave earlier than planned, as the work was much more challenging and time consuming then described on workaway.info. We think that the Horizon Lanka Academy has a very good aim, but we also think that some points need to be improved for the next volunteers. Below we listed some points that may be improved.

Before Arrival

The communication before our arrival was very short, but as you referenced on your informative website, it was ok for us. The website has information about almost everything. As the website is only for the village Mahawilachchiya it was obvious for us that we will teach in Mahawilachchiya itself.

Our recommendation: As most of the volunteers do not teach in the village itself, it should be made clearly on the website that the academy is spread over whole Sri Lanka and many new branches are opening right now. The volunteers need to know, that the meeting point may not be in Mahawilachchiya.

Arrival

From Colombo we had a six hour bus drive to Anuradhapura, just to be informed that we could teach in Nanu Oya which was another six hour bus drive back to the south. We could have gone there directly from Colombo with comfortable two hours in the train.

Our recommendation: Plan and discuss already in advance where the volunteers should go and save a lot of time and energy of the volunteers. This time and energy should better be used for the work with the children.

New Guest Families

The culture of Sri Lanka and of the one from the western people is very different and we were happy to receive the code of ethics in advance. These rules are very good and very important. Unfortunately we had to learn that our guest family never received these rules. Also you told us that the family has no western toilet but you never mentioned that the family has no shower and the washing happens outside the house. Even though we had been very
surprised, it was no problem for us as we are used to this kind of washing trough our camping experiences.

Our recommendation: The code of ethics should be a high priority to new guest families and you should not just send it to them, but furthermore discuss it with them and make sure everything is well understood. We think it must also be clearly communicated how the situation with toilet and non existing bathroom is, as we are sure many volunteers will have some trouble with it.

Opening a New Branch

Organisation

When we arrived in Nanu Oya, the first day we had to visit the regional education director, the vice regional education director and as well the headmasters of the schools to explain them the organisation Horizon Lanka and what we are going to teach. We felt that neither the local administrator nor the school directors had been informed how Horizon Lanka works and what the volunteers are here for. We would have loved to know for ourselves what our
tasks here would be.

Our recommendation: If opening a new branch, make sure that all people involved know what the academy is about and what the volunteers are capable of and what not.

Working hours

On our arrival we had been asked to work five hours in the morning in four different public schools, four hours in the afternoon for the academy and the evening to improve the English of Segar. Also we had been asked to work on Saturday the whole day. The next day we discussed it again and lowered the working hours. But it was difficult for us to arrive and first have to say “no” to everything.

Our recommendation: Offer the volunteers the minimum amount of working hours and give them the possibility to teach more hours if they want. This gives them the chance to grow slowly in their work. Also we think it is much better if the volunteer work in the beginning just in one school to get to know the teachers, students and rules of the schools. More schools could be added, if the volunteer feels comfortable.

English Teaching Public School

From beginning it was expected of us to teach the classes without the help of a local English teacher. We explained clearly that this is not possible for us, as we didn’t know the level of the children nor how the school here works. Beside an English book (which did not fit to the level of the children), no teaching material was present. In the end, the English teacher did not show up the whole morning. Laura as an experienced teacher was able to teach the classes without school material for a whole morning. But it was extremely stressful for her. For volunteers without many years of teaching experience this would have been just impossible.

Our recommendation: As everyone can teach for Horizon Academy many inexperienced volunteers will come. We think teaching for them is just possible if they get the support of an experienced teacher, very small groups of children or at least good teaching material. If no English teacher and no material is available, the volunteers have to know this in advance so they can prepare themselves properly for the lessons.

English Teaching Academy Afternoon

In the afternoon twenty very motivated children had been there. We decided to teach English as the school headmaster clearly expressed that he would prefer us to teach English than dancing lessons. As we did not have any teaching material, we also needed to prepare the lessons for the afternoon which was very time consuming.

Our recommendation: If no teaching material is available, the volunteers have to know this in advance so they can prepare themselves properly for the lesson. It would be a good idea for the Horizon Lanka Academy to provide some material to the volunteers including for example ideas for games and songs.

IT Teaching

When we arrived in Nanu Oya we learned that no computers are available for the children and that I also should teach English. One school had computers but they were reserved for the teachers.

Our recommendation: If someone is sent to teach IT, make sure that some IT infrastructure is available.
If some of our mentioned recommendations could be put into practice, we are sure, that it could be an amazing experience for all involved parties. Thank you again for the great experience and all the best for the future!”

Explanation

Dear Laura and Alain,

Thanks for the valuable feedback. I understand that many things went disarray as Horizon Academy – Nanu Oya was not yet ready when I sent you two there. In fact, I had not decided to send volunteers there till I go there for a second time and ensure everything is in order. The rash decision to send you two there was based on the extremely hot weather prevailed in Anuradhapura during mornings. But, I should still have made better arrangements in Nanu Oya. I apologize and take responsibility for all these and thank you two a lot for doing a lot despite the unfavorable conditions you faced. – Nanda Wanninayaka (The Founder and Chairman of Horizon Lanka Foundation.)

Alain Horst from Switzerland teaching the students in Nanu Oya
Alain Horst from Switzerland teaching the students in Nanu Oya

150. Laura Horst – Switzerland

150. Laura Horst - Switzerland

150.	Laura Horst - SwitzerlandMs. Laura Horst from Switzerland volunteered at Horizon Lanka Foundation in May, 2018.

TOUR REPORT 

“Dear Nanda

We thank you for the opportunity you gave us to teach English here in Sri Lanka. We learned a lot about the country and its people. We were astonished how greatly we had been welcomed in the village, especially in Segars house and how keen the children were to learn new things. Without knowing English and the western culture, Segars parents had been amazing hosts. Even though our stay had many positive aspects, we decided to leave earlier than planned, as the work was much more challenging and time consuming then described on workaway.info. We think that the Horizon Lanka Academy has a very good aim, but we also think that some points need to be improved for the next volunteers. Below we listed some points that may be improved.

Before Arrival

The communication before our arrival was very short, but as you referenced on your informative website, it was ok for us. The website has information about almost everything. As the website is only for the village Mahawilachchiya it was obvious for us that we will teach in Mahawilachchiya itself.

Our recommendation: As most of the volunteers do not teach in the village itself, it should be made clearly on the website that the academy is spread over whole Sri Lanka and many new branches are opening right now. The volunteers need to know, that the meeting point may not be in Mahawilachchiya.

Arrival

From Colombo we had a six hour bus drive to Anuradhapura, just to be informed that we could teach in Nanu Oya which was another six hour bus drive back to the south. We could have gone there directly from Colombo with comfortable two hours in the train.

Our recommendation: Plan and discuss already in advance where the volunteers should go and save a lot of time and energy of the volunteers. This time and energy should better be used for the work with the children.

New Guest Families

The culture of Sri Lanka and of the one from the western people is very different and we were happy to receive the code of ethics in advance. These rules are very good and very important. Unfortunately we had to learn that our guest family never received these rules. Also you told us that the family has no western toilet but you never mentioned that the family has no shower and the washing happens outside the house. Even though we had been very
surprised, it was no problem for us as we are used to this kind of washing trough our camping experiences.

Our recommendation: The code of ethics should be a high priority to new guest families and you should not just send it to them, but furthermore discuss it with them and make sure everything is well understood. We think it must also be clearly communicated how the situation with toilet and non existing bathroom is, as we are sure many volunteers will have some trouble with it.

Opening a New Branch

Organisation

When we arrived in Nanu Oya, the first day we had to visit the regional education director, the vice regional education director and as well the headmasters of the schools to explain them the organisation Horizon Lanka and what we are going to teach. We felt that neither the local administrator nor the school directors had been informed how Horizon Lanka works and what the volunteers are here for. We would have loved to know for ourselves what our
tasks here would be.

Our recommendation: If opening a new branch, make sure that all people involved know what the academy is about and what the volunteers are capable of and what not.

Working hours

On our arrival we had been asked to work five hours in the morning in four different public schools, four hours in the afternoon for the academy and the evening to improve the English of Segar. Also we had been asked to work on Saturday the whole day. The next day we discussed it again and lowered the working hours. But it was difficult for us to arrive and first have to say “no” to everything.

Our recommendation: Offer the volunteers the minimum amount of working hours and give them the possibility to teach more hours if they want. This gives them the chance to grow slowly in their work. Also we think it is much better if the volunteer work in the beginning just in one school to get to know the teachers, students and rules of the schools. More schools could be added, if the volunteer feels comfortable.

English Teaching Public School

From beginning it was expected of us to teach the classes without the help of a local English teacher. We explained clearly that this is not possible for us, as we didn’t know the level of the children nor how the school here works. Beside an English book (which did not fit to the level of the children), no teaching material was present. In the end, the English teacher did not show up the whole morning. Laura as an experienced teacher was able to teach the classes without school material for a whole morning. But it was extremely stressful for her. For volunteers without many years of teaching experience this would have been just impossible.

Our recommendation: As everyone can teach for Horizon Academy many inexperienced volunteers will come. We think teaching for them is just possible if they get the support of an experienced teacher, very small groups of children or at least good teaching material. If no English teacher and no material is available, the volunteers have to know this in advance so they can prepare themselves properly for the lessons.

English Teaching Academy Afternoon

In the afternoon twenty very motivated children had been there. We decided to teach English as the school headmaster clearly expressed that he would prefer us to teach English than dancing lessons. As we did not have any teaching material, we also needed to prepare the lessons for the afternoon which was very time consuming.

Our recommendation: If no teaching material is available, the volunteers have to know this in advance so they can prepare themselves properly for the lesson. It would be a good idea for the Horizon Lanka Academy to provide some material to the volunteers including for example ideas for games and songs.

IT Teaching

When we arrived in Nanu Oya we learned that no computers are available for the children and that I also should teach English. One school had computers but they were reserved for the teachers.

Our recommendation: If someone is sent to teach IT, make sure that some IT infrastructure is available.
If some of our mentioned recommendations could be put into practice, we are sure, that it could be an amazing experience for all involved parties. Thank you again for the great experience and all the best for the future!”

Explanation

Dear Laura and Alain,

Thanks for the valuable feedback. I understand that many things went disarray as Horizon Academy – Nanu Oya was not yet ready when I sent you two there. In fact, I had not decided to send volunteers there till I go there for a second time and ensure everything is in order. The rash decision to send you two there was based on the extremely hot weather prevailed in Anuradhapura during mornings. But, I should still have made better arrangements in Nanu Oya. I apologize and take responsibility for all these and thank you two a lot for doing a lot despite the unfavorable conditions you faced. – Nanda Wanninayaka (The Founder and Chairman of Horizon Lanka Foundation.)

Ms. Laura Horst   from Switzerland teaching students in Nanu Oya.
Ms. Laura Horst from Switzerland teaching students in Nanu Oya.

134. Teresa Fürst – Germany

Teresa Fürst – Germany

Teresa Fürst – Germany

Miss Teresa Fürst from Germany volunteered at Horizon Lanka Foundation in March, 2018.

Teresa Fürst and Chiara Fürst with the students
Teresa Fürst and Chiara Fürst with the students

Teresa Fürst at a shop in Anuradhapura
Teresa Fürst at a shop in Anuradhapura

Teresa and Chiara Fürst at a shop in Anuradhapura
Teresa and Chiara Fürst at a shop in Anuradhapura

Teresa Fürst in Ranpathvila
Teresa Fürst in Ranpathvila

Teresa Fürst interviewing students with other volunteers
Teresa Fürst interviewing students with other volunteers

Chiara Fürst with other volunteers in Tantirimale, Sri Lanka
Chiara Fürst with other volunteers in Tantirimale, Sri Lanka

Teresa Fürst and Chiara Fürst with Namal Thissa
Teresa Fürst and Chiara Fürst with Namal Thissa

Teresa Fürst and other volunteers
Teresa Fürst and other volunteers