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Kandy is picturesque and lush and staying at Mrs Ariya Nanayakara’s place, you will have the best view in town! Volunteers stay in an apartment with a serene roof-top garden overlooking the valley below. Animals and birds roam freely and a couple of times, monkeys have invaded the kitchen and stolen a jam jar – strawberry is their biggest vice! Ariya has hosted volunteers since 2005 and now that her own children are all grown up, she likes the companionship.
“I accept them as part of the family and now that my children have gone, I enjoy their company. I’m not sure if they enjoy mine?” she laughs.
Now a retired dental nurse and teacher, Ariya keeps herself involved in community work, teaching at a nearby Buddhist temple. Her husband is also in high demand for his social service, keeping busy on several community boards and committees. Ariya says the phone rings non-stop for her husband so she feels like his personal secretary sometimes!
“He’s moody when he’s tired but if I meditate, I can tolerate him!” she jokes.
And that’s what she does… Ariya spends 1-2 hours a day meditating and her garden provides the perfect setting for her. She also attends meditation camps and will spend nine whole days without saying a word! She says at the end of the course, some people are so happy and overwhelmed that they cry!
“I like to do a lot of meditation and have a quiet life… it keeps me fit and gives me the energy to work,” she says.
When she’s not meditating, you might find Ariya in the kitchen, as she often entertains her relatives at home, particularly over the holiday period. She says some volunteers want to learn how to make Sri Lankan dishes like Dhal, chicken and green ...
Projects Abroad Peru volunteers have been helping out with 2 extra-curricular projects over the past few months. Both projects came to a conclusion this week with great success!
Teaching volunteers in the Sacred Valley had a change from teaching in high schools to leading evening classes to teach English to local artisans in Pisac. Volunteers taught on Mondays and Wednesdays for 5 weeks and really noticed an improvement in their level of English. Volunteer Hannah Biggs (pictured with her students) from Portishead, UK said of the experience "It was really fun because all the artisans were really friendly and enthusiastic. We had a laugh. It's completely different to teaching school children and I didn't want it to end!"
Our second, equally successful extra-curricular project came to a head today with a performance of "Al Rio le Pica" presented by children of Agropecuario School in Calca who were affected by devastating floods earlier this year. Projects Abroad staff and volunteers worked with the children and director during rehearsals and funded the project which was the result of many weeks of psychological workshops to help the children come to terms with their losses. Many thanks to all involved! To see photos of the performance check out Urubamba's June newsletter.
I arrived in Phnom Penh on May 1, 2010 from Vancouver, Canada. I had spent the last four months at the University of Victoria researching Cambodia’s turbulent political past, but I had no idea what to expect once I arrived. The city was full of interesting contrasts, particularly since poverty and wealth seemed to co-exist side-by-side. My first day will filled with meeting all of the wonderful volunteers, a great lunch and an afternoon trip to the Tuol Sleng Museum as well as the Killing Fields. Understanding Cambodia’s status as a new democracy helped to place its historical past and current status into perspective, and gives light to the strength of the people living here.
I began my work on Human Rights as an Intern at the Community Legal Education Center (CLEC), working on Labour Law. Research for my report (‘Labour Rights of Cambodian Overseas Workers in Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea’) has allowed me to meet with various lawyers and directors from non-government organizations (NGOs) such as LICHADO and CARAM Cambodia, as well as conduct primary interviews garment factory workers here in Phnom Penh. Understanding the repercussions of poor oversight and monitoring mechanisms as well as the direct role of power-relationships between the government and private sector has contributed significantly to my understanding of why the gap between the rich and the poor in Cambodia continues to grow. The Labour Unit at CLEC has been tremendously helpful and proactive in ensuring that I gain the most from my internship with their organization and I feel very lucky to have received such a great placement.
Nepal is getting HOT HOT HOT! However, despite this, I was still convinced by the volunteers to take them on a trip to Chtiwan National Park last weekend. So, after a hot and sweaty, 6 hour bus ride, we finally arrived in a little air-conditioned haven in the middle of Chitwan called the Rainforest!
We had a quick walk through the jungle and an introduction to everyone, then headed down to the riverside to watch the sunset. It was pretty beautiful until the sun went behind a cloud! Two of the volunteers Danny and Justin decided to cool off in the river and go for a swim. Less than an hour later, our jungle guide pointed out a huge crocodile hiding in the river plants a few hundred meters up stream of where the boys had been swimming in the same river!
Our second day in Chitwan was fun filled and kicked off with another crocodile close encounter when we were taken down the river in wooden canoes. With everyone still in one piece we "parked" our canoes on the river bank and began our jungle trek, through trees and bushes and balancing along logs to cross over rivers. When the jungle cleared, we came out at the elephant breeding centre of Chitwan where we saw the twin baby elephants feeding with mum and running to greet us flapping their ears...cute!!!
The next activity was definitely the highlight of the whole weekend for me...playing and splashing around with 3 huge elephants in the river. The Mahoots showed us with such balance and skill how to climb up onto the elephants backs, but it provided great entertainment for everyone with each person scrambling up the elephants trunks in a less than graceful fashion! We even had some acrobatics by Danny doing somersaults off the elephants backs. Fun times.
Our last dinner at the Rainforest was, of ...
Ethiopia - By Maéva Clement from France - Journalism Volunteer – September 2009
When I first discovered Projects Abroad on the Internet and then decided to commit myself, I new I wanted to work in an English-speaking country, and more precisely in an African country. Yet I hesitated almost an entire month whether to go to South Africa or Ethiopia to complete a journalism internship.
I never regretted my choice to go to Ethiopia. First, it is the safest sub-Saharan country. There are no thefts and as a woman you can travel around without any problem. Sure, people look at you all the time because there are not a lot of white people in the area and especially when you are a young woman. You are often solicited for money, mostly by kids, but also just for a conversation. Since foreigners are rare, people want to hear their stories, learn about other cities, far away in the north. Yet, as I said, I felt really safe in Addis, even walking in the city in the evening. For instance, I travelled alone to the famous city of Lalibela (Northern Ethiopia). People were sometimes surprised, others just indifferent and I simply enjoyed my time visiting the most beautiful Christian orthodox (the religion of the majority of Ethiopian people) churches I have ever seen.
I flew to Ethiopia in September, which turned out to be the perfect month to discover the country: the rainy season was almost over (mid-September) and the dry season had not yet begun. The country was all green and beautiful and the temperature remained average. September is also a great month to discover the Ethiopian culture and way of life because people celebrate New Year (11th of September) and Meskal (the finding of the true cross in the orthodox religion), which are the two ...