Trip report 2023 (Autumn)

This year I was nervous to go. First of all, I still had a very painful knee and secondly one of the volunteers refused to speak to me for more than 3 months. If that was not bad enough all the boxes were at his place.

I arrived on Thursday morning; taxi was waiting for me and took me to Christima Residence where I always stay for the first 1 or 2 nights.

I went to bed and after a swim in the afternoon Johncy and her grown up children came to pick me up and to get me straight to the tailor for my working clothes and afterwards we had a great dinner.

The morning after I had my first visit at a new town school at the outskirts of Colombo. Normally I don’t help town schools. There are too big (between 3.000 till 6000 pupils is normal) but I do help with hockey projects. They picked me up and I had a wonderful morning getting to know the school.

The day after I left for Kandy after a short coffee stop at my friend’s place.

It was great to see Ramani, Sameera and Henk again the family where I normally stay. This is the place where my cupboard is positioned and in my little cupboard is my life. (clothes, books, shoes, jacket, underwear etc.)

The next 3 days were awful. I had to do the boxes. There were big arguments with the volunteer, there was silence and he ignored me. His wife tried to look after me and got my food but all together I had no energy, and I was crying a lot. Is this what I really wanted to do? Is it time to give up the project I worked so hard for so many years. Is this a sign? I was confused and very sad.

I was so much looking forward to my 2 days away, it almost felt like a holiday. It gave me energy and the people gave me energy. I went with Kanchana; my friend and volunteer and we were on a mission.

We had 3 projects in 2 days and did some of our favorite things.

  1. We gave a jungle school at Mahaoya area 8 big white boards and explained the educational materials they didn’t understand last time.
  2. We visited a village in the same area and gave 300 children, exercise books, a rubber, pen and they could choose a toy.
  3. We gave again in the same village 2 cupboards for a library (so that the minibeasts wouldn’t eat up the books) and we gave 250 euro worth of books for the children to read. An interesting project set up by welfare organization to teach the children that the world is wider than their village.

The other things we did are our yearly sightseeing trips. We will always go and see the elephants in the wild and we always go to thermal baths. It all cheered me up and ready to finish my last week in Kandy.

Unfortunantely, I heard the schools were closed again (quite normal in Sri Lanka where the government decides when it is holiday and when it is not, and I can tell you that children in Sri Lanka are more at home then at school. Quite sad.

So, what else did I do?

  • I visited the Absent school for English camp and did some English games with the children.
  • I visited the Absent school again to give clothes and educational materials on a Sunday.
  • I visited 1 hockey school to see how the hockey projects are getting on and to give one school a keeper’s outfit.
  • To give a nursery school pretend play. Teacher was surprised to see me.
  • I visited a nursery school together with Desiree, to see if she looked after the given toys (she got a warning from us)
  • On the last day Ayesh (from the town school in Colombo) came to pick up many sports outfits from the hotel
  • Johncy came back on the last day to pick up educational materials for her nursery.
  • I left sports outfits at Ramani’s place, and she and Sameera would take them to the last school (at this moment) to help with hockey equipment. I was running out of time and couldn’t do everything myself.
  • We visited and gave educational materials to a special needs school in Kandy. This was the first school I helped when we started.
  • We visited the school which Wendy and her family painted during their trip to Sri Lanka. They were visiting the country but also wanted to do some good work. We gave clothes to the parents and children. Cuddles to all children and every child got a T-shirt.
  • We visited a new primary school in Mahaoya area. A cute school and I gave some educational materials. All projects around Mahaoya we do with the chief of this area.
  • We visited another town school around Wettagama for hockey project and we gave already some sport outfits and yes also some educational material.

The last project was a project in the Knuckles where I stayed one night in a kind of hotel. Very basic and not to do again. We had 10 boxes of warm clothes with us which were carried by the local men to the hotel as this hotel was off the main road. The next day lot of people could come and choose some items. In a half hour everything was gone and for me it was quite sad to see that more people came later, and we had nothing left.

Because of the other good experiences, I decided to keep on doing the projects, but it is time to move on and find some other partners (volunteers) who want to help me to bring the projects to the next level.

I will be back Autumn of 2024.

Natasja Lammers

a part of the boxes