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