This month has been an extremely exciting one for everyone in the Projects Abroad Sri Lanka team. Not only because our volunteers have been teaching Buddhist monks, observing autopsies, giving free medical healthcare to the poor at our medical camp, teaching orphans, looking after adults with mental disabilities etc.. but also because we have just started a sports placement in one of the government schools where we send many teaching volunteers.
This government school has 4500 pupils aged between 5 and 17, and until recently there was no, or limited, sports lessons for these kids. After a lot of preparation, chatting and attempting to speak broken Sinhala, myself and the rest of our team arranged a schedule for our future sports volunteers at this government school. We arranged for the volunteers to teach the children a variety of sports, including gymnastics, football, acrobats, athletics, cricket etc.. and we made sure that the volunteers can be flexible while at their placements and they will be free to implement their own ideas.
We recently welcomed our very first sports volunteer, Lisa Van Keulen from the Netherlands. This is a real treat, because Lisa is a national acrobat champion in Holland! On her first day of placement she was welcomed by a class full of extremely excited 12 year olds who were eagerly awaiting their gymnast lesson.
Lisa has now been working at this placement for one month. She has been teaching sports to the oldest and youngest in the school. It is amazing to walk around the school with her because she is famous! All of the kids would like to speak with her and show their gratitude for her hard work. The words ‘teacher, teacher, teacher’ spread around the whole school and some kids even bow to her feet!
All in all, the sports placement has worked really well and these energetic kiddies and young adults can finally let out some steam by doing some exercise. Lisa has been a real inspiration to these kids and to all of our team. She has helped us build a real foundation for our future sports volunteers and has made a real positive contribution to helping us make this an amazing project.
We are currently looking for more applicants to come and teach sports here in Sri Lanka. Amazing life experiences guaranteed! Hope you enjoy the piccys of Lisa. Join our facebook group, by clicking on the link below, to see more piccys of this placement and the rest of our fantasticlally, delightfully exceedingly lovely placements.
Ayubowan from Sri Lanka
Here are some piccys of our most recent graduation ceremony at the Projects Abroad I.T centre in the sleepy seaside village of Wadduwa. Well done to everyone that graduated!
Anne is from the UK and she has recently retired. She thought, what better way to celebrate her start to retirement than to do a project with us in Sri Lanka. Although she was not a teacher for her career, she did have some teaching experience and she felt that the project that most suited her would be a teaching project. After much discussion with Gishan (our desk officer), they agreed that she would be happy to teach Buddhist monks.
Every time I am amazed at how wonderfully lovely this experience is for the monks and the volunteers! Teaching Buddhist monks in a picturesque part of the beautiful country is something that we are proud, in fact honored, to be a part of. Making a positive difference to people’s lives is a fundamental aim for Projects Abroad, and making a positive difference to these extremely spiritual people is…well, something that is an unforgettable experience for the whole of our team..staff and volunteers.
Anyways, back to Anne now…Anne has been teaching young monks, in one of the temples that we work with, for six weeks. During her time with us she has taught many monks, aged between 8-21, and she has even witnessed an ordination ceremony. This is where, according to Aruni, ‘monks get monked!’… In slightly less simple terms, it is basically a ceremony that celebrates the stage of a young monk’s life where he/she has passed a set of disciplinary procedures. After the ceremony he/she can perform certain rituals etc (cutting a long story short). A very special, and for some spiritual, thing to witness.
Last Monday was Anne’s final day of teaching. She was given dozens of gifts and letters from the monks and was a tad emotional when I met her. She told me on numerous occasions that this experience has been one that she will cherish forever. Here are some piccys of Anne and the gifts/letters. The famous Ariya (one of our host mothers) seems to be boogying in one of the pics. This had to be the first picky!
Last weekend was the Sinhalese and Tamil New Year. They celebrate new year at this time of year because on April 12th and 13th the sun moves from Meena Rashiya to Mesha Rashiya (yer.. I’m not really sure either!). There were parties, and celebrations, across the whole island and everyone gives each other lots of sweets. It is Sri Lankan tradition to feed and give all year round, but during new year it is twice as bad! Every day for a week I have been forced to eat these sweets.. Too many sweets! Anyways..I’m going off track.
The Projects Abroad Sri Lanka team couldn’t resist the opportunity to get the volunteers in the new year festival spirit, and we thought, what better way to celebrate than with the children at one of our many different placements?! After some discussion, we decided to arrange a day of sports and games for the girls at Anula Girl’s Orphanage.
Julie playing pin the tail on the elephant
At around 9am last Friday, 25 volunteers were greeted by around the same number of orphaned girls at the orphanage. The girls were their normal cheeky self, but at the same time a little shy from all of these foreigners! The main duty for the volunteers was to care for these girls, but we all got involved with the fun. The girls played so many different silly games, including bun eating competition and fancy dress parade...a personal favourite was the best cry competition (although mildly cringy). They also sung many traditional Sinhalese songs to the volunteers. The day ended with a Projects Abroad staff vs volunteers volley ball match. All of the girls picked a team and were giving us support and shouting ’service, service, service!’ which made everyone twice as competitive (it ended in a draw). After this we had lunch and traditional new year snacks. Finally, the orphaned girls surprised us with a traditional dance. All of the girls put on a lovely dress and make up and did a synchronized dance in front of the very impressed volunteers. Some of the girls were crying at the end of the day, because they were looking forward to this for such a long time and saying good bye was too overwhelming! However the volunteers had to leave and celebrate the Sinhala new year with their new Sinhalese families.
This was a race to see who can pop the balloon first!
Bun eating competition
Uncle Charley and Jess
Crying competiton. Georgia and Michelle were the judges
The lads! With Nol
Traditional sinalese dancing
HAPPY SINALESE AND TAMIL NEW YEAR PEOPLE OF THE WORLD!
Andrea is from Germany and she has now been a medical volunteer with Projects Abroad Sri Lanka for 3 months. She is a ‘pre-med’ (what we call our medical volunteers with no prior medical experience) and she came here to get some experience in this field.
While in Sri Lanka, Andrea was living with the Arjuna family. This family live within 5 minutes from the hospital where Andrea works and the host parents are both doctors at this hospital. This is great because the host parents provide so much support and advice for the volunteers during their time with us in Sri Lanka.
Below are some pics of the Arjuna family and Andrea’s emotional farewell. There are three children in this family, but unfortunately one was at school when these pics were taken.
Bosco Sevana is in the sleepy seaside town of Bopitiya, around an hour drive north of Colombo, near the international airport. We sent our first volunteer here in January, meaning that it is one of Projects Abroad Sri Lanka's most recent placements.
Bosco Sevana is an orphanage for boys, and young men, who have been effected by a psychologically disturbed past, so the main job for our volunteers working here is to try and help the boys attain a bright future with a career focus. The orphanage is run by a few Catholic Fathers and Brothers and they assist our volunteers throughout their placement. These guys are a real inspiration to meet and one can learn so much from working with them. They have donated their lives to help these unfortunate boys. They are also a right laugh and like to have a bit of a banter!
It is difficult to say whether Bosco Sevana is a care or teaching placement because to be honest it can be both (or either or, depending on what the volunteer would prefer). The volunteers who work here can be very flexible with what they do. Most of them teach English, or, I.T, during the day and play sports with the boys when it gets a bit cooler. This includes cricket, volleyball and football, which are all played on the beach. Additional activities include cooking for the children, playing games or just simply assisting the Brothers and Fathers with their every day work. All in all, helping the boys attain a bright future after their extremely dark past is an extremely rewarding experience for the volunteers and the boys. Projects Abroad are very proud to be assisting with this.
In this photo album Nol Van Loon (our dutch volunteer) is having a footy match with the Brothers and Fathers (apologies to you Americans but being an English man I can't call footy soccer).
Last Sunday our volunteer from Denmark prepared a dinner and film night for the girls at ‘Anula Girl’s Orphanage’ (one of our care/teaching placements in Balapaitiya). The Projects Abroad team was happy to help out with this, so we bought food for the girls and provided a projector for the casting of Shrek. Before the film, our volunteers and the staff at the orphanage prepared meals for the 30 plus girls who live in this orphanage. All of the girls were extremely excited and almost bewildered at this act of generosity. But to our surprise, the girls were well behaved and quiet throughout the film.. I have never seen them like this before.. Usually they are all loud and extremely cheeky. Obviously a very long activity filled week for the volunteers and the girls at the orphanage.
Our next social outreach programme will be held at this orphanage. We will be celebrating the Sinhala/Tamil New Year.
Social Outreach Programme March 2013!
This month’s social outreach programme was spectacularly wonderfully lovely in all sorts of ways! Everytime we have an outreach programme (once every 4 weeks) the Projects Abroad Sri Lanka team arranges our volunteers to do something beneficial for one of our placements, or do something typically Sri Lankan. This month our team of staff and volunteers did both. We painted the gate, fence and the Buddhist temple at a school where Projects Abroad sent our first volunteer mid way through February. After this we went to a hotel for Sri Lankan cooking lessons.
Twenty excited volunteers met at Panadura Clock Tower at 8am (Panadura is one hour south of the capital city, Colombo). After we gathered everyone together we all crammed in a number of tuk tuks and went to the school (a tuk tuk is a three wheeled vehicle that looks a bit like a giant toy. I am sure there are at least one million in Sri Lanka). To our surprise there was a school fete happening on the morning that we were painting. Therefore the school was packed when we entered. Nevertheless we were greeted with the usual Sri Lankan warmth by every student and teacher and it was obvious that twenty foreigners with paintbrushes was a bit overwhelming for some (one kid ran away because he was scared)! Most of the young kids surrounded us and were keen to show off their limited English skills. The questions ‘what is your name?’ ‘how old are you?’ where is your country?’ were asked in a thick Sri Lankan accent.
After a bit of, as we would say in England, ‘faffing about’ we got started. Some of us were painting the fence, some the temple and others the gate. In most of our 35 destinations around the world we have a similar sort of outreach programme and another name for this is ‘messy days’. This day certainly lived up to the name. Every volunteer had paint everywhere, but admittedly I think that I was the messiest, despite one of my previous jobs as a painter decorator!
After painting had finished we all got in tuk tuks and went 7km south to the seaside town that is Wadduwa. We all went to a hotel and were awaited by a whole display of cooking equipment and food that was prepared for the Sri Lankan cooking class. During the class, our volunteers learnt about a variety of different Sri Lankan cooking techniques, learning about the different herbs, spices and so on. We all helped with the cooking and ate the delicious outcome!
A lovely day and looking forward to the next one soon.
Once every four weeks the Projects Abroad team arranges for a doctor to give a lecture to our medical volunteers. As I have mentioned in a previous blog, this is a great chance for the medical volunteers to learn about what they will be witnessing while working at the hospital. During the most recent seminar our medical volunteers learnt about the public health system in Sri Lanka and tropical diseases. We always arrange these lectures to be held in a hotel, with a swimming pool, next to the beach so after the lecture the volunteers go for a dip or two. Underneath are some pictures. Looking forward to the next one!
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