Scarlet R. – Care in Sri Lanka
Together with four other friends, I spent three weeks in Sri Lanka: one week volunteering on a Care Project in Colombo and two weeks discovering the beautiful culture and community that Sri Lanka has to offer.
Our host family
We flew out the day after our year 12 graduation, so we were so full of excitement and eagerness to adventure out into the world. After an almost 12-hour flight we finally arrived at our lovely host family. They were so welcoming and made their home feel like ours, even supplying a yummy midnight snack at 1am when we arrived! Their hospitality was great and we became comfortable within Colombo from day one. We were given a guided tour around the Kelaniya and it didn’t take us long to get our bearings.
International Volunteers Day
We were lucky enough to start our volunteer project on International Volunteers Day (December 5th). This was such an extraordinary day, with so many treasured experiences. We also got to meet so many volunteers from around the world that we wouldn’t have met due to our limited time and because we were volunteering as a group.
The day began with us making supplies such as handmade books and crafts, to take to a cancer hospital in the south of Colombo. There, we could really interact with the younger children and their parents in the hospital, putting smiles on their faces and even teaching them a little English. We followed that with an anti-smoking campaign targeted at the locals around the hospital. We were so lucky to have participated in such a fulfilling experienced and be able to meet so many like-minded people, I for one will always remember that day.
Our Care placement
A typical day consisted of being dropped at our placement at 8:30 am then setting up daily activities we had planned the night before. Each morning we would sing English songs and teach them dance moves to the songs so they could learn what the songs meant. We would then have lunch and do other activities before the kids went home.
Some of the activities we organized included coloring in hand-outs that we stuck onto a Christmas tree. We also cut out farm animals that the kids colored in to teach them the English name for each animal. The physical aspect of the craft activities as well as singing and dancing all helped to keep the kids interested, however, as hard as we tried to tire them out, they always seemed to have infinite energy.
Exploring Sri Lanka
Our placement seemed to go by so quick, but we were keen to experience Sri Lanka outside of the hustle and bustle of Colombo. For any volunteer with a spare weekend I would highly recommend climbing Adam’s Peak, a 3-hour trek best done before sunrise, departing at 2am, to reach the top for sunrise. Our climb unfortunately ended in a cloud so didn’t see much of the 360 degree view. We did have an amazing view as the clouds lifted when we climbed down in the morning though.
Other places I would recommend for weekend trips would be the south, including Galle, Mirissa and all the gorgeous beaches along the coast. It’s great for beginner and experienced surfers, as well as beach lovers, cricket lovers and people searching for upmarket clothing, jewellery or even a boutique hotel for the weekend in Galle Fort.
Finally if you’re deciding to head to central Sri Lanka, a visit to Ella should be on the list. The whole town is based around one main road, with home stays built up on the sides of the mountains and tea factories surrounding the whole area. It is such a picturesque town full of other backpackers, many re-visiting Ella and they can tell you secret places to get great cheap meals.
Projects Abroad were so helpful throughout our whole trip, we felt safe traveling as five girls because we knew they were there to help at any time.
This volunteer story may include references to working in or with orphanages. Find out more about Projects Abroad's current approach to volunteering in orphanages and our focus on community-based care for children.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.