Fiona Rickets - High School Specials, Care & Community in Sri Lanka
Last summer I traveled to Sri Lanka to do a High School Specials Care project. It was the most amazing experience and even though I was only there for two weeks, it was the best thing I’ve ever done.
I went alone with Projects Abroad, but I am so glad I did because it meant that I had to be independent and I got to know new people better. It meant that I got talking to people that I would never normally have got talking to, like those on the plane journey.
I got to know some great people when I was in Sri Lanka. There were seven of us doing the High School Specials and of the seven I was the only English person. It was weird as I was seeing a wide variety of cultures including French and Japanese, in a completely different place which had such an incredibly rich culture itself.
My host family
I stayed with the Bandara family in a town called Panadura, on the west coast. It was a lovely house and the host family was so welcoming. We were provided with delicious meals every day. Before I went to Sri Lanka I didn’t really like curries much but since going there I have officially been converted!
My Care placement
I loved volunteering at the Tsunami Camp in Panadura. During the weekdays we would get tuk tuks or walk there in the mornings and afternoons. In the morning we worked with children aged between 3 and 5. They were so sweet; they loved the attention from the volunteers and we did various activities with them. We prepared food for the kids and at the end they would sing songs and rhymes.
In the afternoon we worked with older children, aged between 8 and 15. We would do various activities and played volleyball outside with them. They were all from the Tsunami Camp which had blocks of flat which were provided for the families to live in after the tsunami. I loved being with the children in the morning and afternoon and it was sad to say goodbye at the end of my trip.
Our weekend trip
On Friday afternoon we traveled 6 hours further in land for our weekend trip. On Saturday morning we went to Sigyria Rock Fortress, which was incredible. We climbed all the way to the top, accompanied by a local tour guide who spoke many languages. The views were amazing and we could see for miles.
In the afternoon we went by jeep to Minneria National Park to see elephants. They were so amazing and we also saw their calves. On Sunday morning we went on an elephant ride! All seven of us were on one huge elephant and we went all around the village. The weekend trip was so much fun and we stayed in a really nice hotel.
It was amazing to experience such a different place. The people, the towns, the weather and the way of life seemed a world away from England. During our free time we went to the town and the Blue Water Hotel which is where to go for the beach, which was beautiful. To get there the bus cost about 10 Sri Lankan rupees which was only about 5 pence! Things were very cheap out there but I still managed to spend a lot on souvenirs, presents and other shopping.
Despite things being generally very cheap out there, Sri Lanka has such a rich culture. I would love to go back there sometime in the future as I had the time of my life. I would recommend this trip to Sri Lanka to anyone who wants to have an adventure and experience something new.