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Mole National Park adventure!   (published in Ghana)

June 1, 2010 by   Comments(0)


              4:00AM. Hardly the ideal time to meet up, but in Ghana this is a pretty standard time to set off on a journey. So I met with the rest of the volunteers in the Metro Bus station in Kumasi to head to Tamale in order to eventually get to Mole. Getting tickets for the bus was no easy task, having to resist the hoard of Ghanaians trying to push through the queue!

The metro-bus was fairly uncomfortable for all the 6 hours it took to get to Tamale, but if you have experienced long distance tro tro rides, this was nothing. Highlights of journey included a roadside pineapple lady who managed to cut up a pineapple perfectly in 30 seconds flat and being sandwiched between two volunteers who wouldn’t let me sleep (thanks guys!).

The plan was to get to Larabanga, a town about four hours away from Tamale, and stay there for the night. After hours of sweating on the tro tro and bus we finally managed to get to our small beaten-down hostel. In a small village without running water or any particular cuisine to mention, one would wonder why we decided to stay there. The attraction of the hostel was that we got to sleep on the roof (yes!), and the attraction of the village was that it had the oldest mosque in West Africa. The night on the roof was a wonderful experience, lying under the stars and enjoying the nighttime breeze.

The next day we visited the mosque and somehow ended back at the hostel with all of us with a child holding our hand. This is something quite common too in Ghana! The ride to the national park was probably one of the coolest ways to get to a destination, sitting on a back of a motorbike, racing through the dirt road. Mine was a particularly exhilarating ride after ...

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Mole National Park adventure!
Mole National Park adventure!

Lucha Libre! A Mexican tradition!   (published in Mexico)

June 1, 2010 by   Comments(0)


Mexican wrestling has become one of the most traditional sports in Mexico but it has also transcended space and time. The peculiar masks and tricks during the matches are typical and can't be found in any other country's wrestling.

This tradition almost died during the 90's decade but now the young generations are very into it . Entire families go to the Arena to enjoy of this really professional sport which can be funny at the same time. A place for kids and grown ups, for women and men, for everyone!

That is why, in Projects Abroad Mexico we had a Lucha Libre week. A couple of weeks ago we started our Mexican Wresting week with a movie called 'Nacho Libre' with Jack Black. Last Tuesday, we had a great trip to the Arena. As part of the arrangements there was a bus (Double decker style by the way) which took us all the way there and we got into the Arena Coliseo de Guadalajara. So the fight started!

Everyone had so much fun, the double-decker picked collected us and brought us to the starting point!

Looking forward to the next event!

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Lucha Libre! A Mexican tradition!
Lucha Libre! A Mexican tradition!

A Happy Ending by Sylvie Bousselet   (published in Sri Lanka)

June 1, 2010 by   Comments(0)

  There's a beginning and an ending to every good story... Sylvie from France tells us hers...

The beginning: two years and half ago, in October November 2007, I undertook my first humanitarian project  with Projects Abroad; October 15th, arriving for the first time in Colombo, the following days I began to work in a village, the morning in a Montessori with children from 3 to 5, and at Jagadallah Temple orphanage with 36 boys from 6 to 18, in the afternoon (English lessons, art and sport activities). It was a great challenge for me and in the same time a very great experience that I will never forget. I learnt a lot.

Then, as I had taken a sabbatical year, I went to Cambodia for a project with orphans in Phnom Penh and in Peru to work in a pre-school.

Time went on but I was still thinking of the 36 boys that I had met in Sri Lanka; I was really proud of them; they cooked, cleaned their rooms, washed their clothes -- do not forget that in Sri Lanka they go to school wearing white clothes, still very white even if it is raining (magic !….ask them how they do it) --.repaired the building, gardening, and so on…and have few possessions of their own. .

I wanted to go back to Sri Lanka, to visit them and my host family as well, nevertheless I considered a visit too personal a goal to justify going there; I wanted to do something useful for them.

Last summer, a light lit-up in my head: a library!

Now: 2010, time for the New Year, time to announce my little project to Projects Abroad office in Colombo; it was important for me to inform them and to obtain their support. Gishan gave me encouragements as soon as I told him. So, in February I was organizing my trip and as I have an Irish friend, living in France, I explained to her my idea ...

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A Happy Ending by Sylvie Bousselet
A Happy Ending by Sylvie Bousselet

Second Helping - by Steve Ridgway   (published in Sri Lanka)

May 25, 2010 by   Comments(0)

It’s strange how things pan out sometimes. You always say how you’d love to return to a particular place, although deep down you admit that you probably won’t. But when I left Sri Lanka last November after an all-too-brief two week stint, I had every intention of coming back. In the space of that two short weeks we’d seen, first hand, just how possible it is for someone to make a real difference and the feeling of achievement is something you have to experience. Trying to describe it just isn’t the same.

I’d worked at Mawala IT Centre and paid a couple of visits to the Tsunami flats at Panadura, where Marian, my wife, had a similar placement. Even in that short time we’d managed to sort out one or two hiccups with the computers (although the climate does take its toll) but more importantly we had a good idea of exactly what kind of thing we (or should that be ‘I’) could bring back that would be really useful. A shed load of photos came in handy, too. People at work saw them one day, and the next they were bringing items in ‘to take back for the kids’. Within a week of getting back to work I’d decided how my remaining three weeks’ annual leave would be spent. Just a shame that Marian couldn’t come back with me. So, four months to the day after I left Sri Lanka, I was back at the airport on my way in. Only this time I had the benefit of knowing exactly what I was coming into, and had been able to plan accordingly; most of my luggage was made up either of things ‘for the kids’ or for the IT Centre. Nothing superfluous; everything had a purpose. There was Indrani’s cooking to look forward too as well.

On reaching Mawala, though, what a surprise! This place had come on in ...

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Second Helping - by Steve Ridgway
Second Helping - by Steve Ridgway

Adam's Peak : a steep road to jelly legs   (published in Sri Lanka)

May 25, 2010 by   Comments(0)

Some guidebooks say five thousand steps, others say six thousand… No matter what the actual number is, let me tell you, it’s a heck of a lot of steps to the top of Adam’s Peak! But don’t let that dissuade you because reaching the top is one of the most rewarding experiences that Sri Lanka has to offer.

Adam's Peak is no gentle slope, measuring 2,243m in height, the mountain is sacred to Buddhists and boasts a beautiful Temple at its summit. Monks clad in orange robes greet and bless pilgrims at the beginning of their ascent – wishing them well for the spiritually and physically grueling upwards journey.  Climbers often follow the track during the evening, arriving at the peak in time to witness a glorious sunrise. Sometimes pilgrims will see a shadow is cast across the surrounding mountains - a spectacular sight if the sky is clear!

Traditionally, the climbing season rests between December and May so if you want to take the challenge, get those hiking boots on quick smart! At this time of year, pilgrims can ward off the cold with cozy cups of tea or milo and steaming chickpeas for protein (and inevitable muscle repair!) Tea houses mark the pathway with purplish blue lighting. The steps are also well lit in most areas but if you decide to hike out of the season, be sure to be well-equipped with food, water and a big torch. You might like to take a local guide or one of the energetic dogs that bound up and down the mountain with remarkable ease! 

Completing the climb itself is quite an achievement.  It’s a big enough effort to acclimatise to the blistering cold and it’s one of the only places in Sri Lanka where you will need a scarf, gloves and jacket!  People descending the mountain have an expression of ...

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Adam's Peak : a steep road to jelly legs
Adam's Peak : a steep road to jelly legs

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