After teaching at the rural fishing village on a Friday afternoon, John drove Rachel and I back to Inspire Village. On our drive they were excited to show me the scenic route home. We had a grand plan to pick up some short eats (hot snack food sold at cafes and by the side of the road - usually spicy rotis, wady, and cutlets - basically all number of exciting delicious crunchy, lentil-ly or breaded goodies) and see the beautiful countryside. However, our plan was destined for failure. Not far into our scenic journey, their little car overheated so we had to pull over in a small village.
In a matter of minutes, local residents turned up to help us. After much prodding of the engine and various passers by weighing in and taking a look, we established that the water pipe had split. This meant that no water could get into the radiator. After a very confusing attempt to push the car into a convenient parking space we sat down and waited for help. Now you have to realise that this is not 'ca...
My friends Rachel and John, whilst they have been volunteering at Inspire Village, have been helping to improve the English education of children in a rural setting. They have been providing a weekly class for local children in their community church building. I was able to join them for a few lessons and to witness the impact that they are having here. The children live in a tiny remote fishing village on a lake near Anuradhapura in the north of Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, children in upper primary can pass exams and be granted scholarships to attend good schools. One child in the village has won one of these scholarships however due to the cost of the bus fare they are unable to attend. This all makes what Rachel and John are doing even more pertinent. To many Sri Lankans, in a society that relies heavily on tourism, having English as an additional language is essential.
The classes are held for a mixture of aged children, from 4-15! The children come to the local chapel weekly and spen...
Whilst in Sri Lanka I was lucky enough to be able to visit my friend Rachel from university and her partner John at Inspire Village in the north of the island.
To give a little background, the family that run and own Inspire Village were given 22 acres of land in the 1970's in response to their on-going involvement in charity work. They were asked by the government to use the land sustainably and for the benefit of the local community. This is something that runs through the heart of everything that they do there.
The Inspire Village family invite groups of volunteers from across the globe to not only help build and improve the buildings and community spaces on-site, but also to engage with local educational settings.
The project has many outreach projects and supports local schools and children throughout the area and even sometimes further afield. There is a big focus upon skills sharing and sustainability.
My friends from the UK have been living and volunteering at this wonderful p...
I would like to extend my warmest thanks to the staff at Shastrananda school for offering me the opportunity to visit my first Sri Lankan educational setting.
Sri Lankan schools are much like British schools in that there are a range of private, religious and government state schools. Shastrananda is a government school offering free education to the local children. The Sri Lankan government also offers free breakfast to school children which is much appreciated. This is something that back in the UK many schools see the value of, providing it themselves. Hungry children are at a disadvantage when they start their day of learning. Being well fed gives you the best start for a day, offering higher concentration and energy.
So, arriving by tuk tuk I walked through the gates into Shastrananda school, into their big grounds and was met by a host of interested, curious and welcoming children and adults. The children were very polite offering the formal Sinhala greeting 'ayobowan' and I had...
I grew up in the countryside and have always been drawn to open spaces and nature. I am often happiest when outside, whatever the weather. I love the freedom that the countryside can offer. Options are often limited, with less people, less social activity, but a richer physical environment. It forces a slowness that a city can struggle to offer. I do, however, live in a city and one that I love. Sheffield is the perfect mix, in my eyes, of open green spaces, historical buildings and hustle and bustle, surrounded by a beautiful and rugged national park. It also holds a strong community spirit and is home to some incredible open-minded human beings.
Whilst travelling I have spent a disproportionate amount of time in cities. It means that I have seen much of a country's countryside through a window, a train, a car or a bus. I have missed spending time in nature and will always crave it, wherever I am. However, it is important to remember that the natural world is always present, despite...
I will keep this post short and sweet and mainly let the photos tell the story...
Where Nepal was mountains, bumpy roads, rural beauty and dusty crowded cities Sri Lanka is tropical beaches, palm trees, smooth roads, and jungles. Sri Lanka has been a surprise. After the initial shock (which lasted several weeks!) of the heat and humidity I have come to love this country with it's friendly, smiley people and it's slow pace of life.
I have in fact extended my visa for 1 month as some opportunities have popped up that are too good to miss. Plus the food is super scrummy!! I am even handling the spiciness!
Here are some of the beautiful parts of Sri Lanka so far...
Six weeks after entering Kathmandu airport, in a state of sleepless bewilderment, it is time to say farewell to this amazing country.
It has been a privilege to be able to spend such an extended period of time in this place. It has not only given me a sense of the country and the people that live here, but has also presented a magnified version of what travelling and all it's many facets can entail.
It has struck me that it is only upon revisiting a place and re-experiencing it that it is possible to understand it fully. Being in the same place with prior knowledge enables a freedom of thought that was previously impossible.
We travelled by bus from Pokhara back to Kathmandu a few days ago and it was the process of fully relaxing into the jarring and turbulent bus ride that enabled me to realise how different the experience was from our first ride, one full of trepidation.
When you arrive in a new country, especially one with very different customs and culture from your own, you are...
" It is one of the secrets of walking: a slow approach to landscapes that gradually render them familiar. Like the regular encounters that deepen friendship. Thus a mountain skyline that stays with you all day, which you observe in different lights, define and articulates itself." - Frédéric Gros
So it has been a few weeks since I last shared and during that time I have been pushing the limits of what my little legs can do! Before winter really sets in here in Nepal we sadly left Heaven Hill Academy school and embarked on a trekking adventure in the Himalayas.
Whilst trekking I pondered the difference between a mere walking adventure and a trekking adventure and had to succomb to looking up the meaning... the definition that really leaps out is "a long arduous journey". We were walking; arduously and for a long time. Eleven days to be precise. In all seriousness though, it was not easy! We were each carrying sleeping bags, warm clothes, water and snacks which makes for a very full a...
Heaven Hill Academy is a forward thinking and inclusive school in rural Nepal in the village of Guansahar. They provide education for children that would otherwise not have it, for example children with special educational needs, girls and children from low caste families. Families can access free education at the school if they cannot afford the fees. It is most important for the Principal that the children from the village access education, regardless of the obstacles. Needless to say without education the children's life choices will be very limited. The school is independent and gets no help from the Government and therefore relies heavily on help from volunteers and outside help.
The school runs new and exciting initiatives which are rare in Nepalese schools such as horse therapy for children with special educational needs and those needing help to boost their self confidence. With the help of volunteers, the school also embarked on a camping trip for two nights earlier this year...
Staying in rural Nepal for the last few days has been eye opening. The hospitality of the people in the mountains is impressive. They have little and they give a lot. We have been made to feel so welcome.
The group of volunteers standing with Shamser the Principal of Heaven Hill Academy.
We have been staying with a Principal of a local, independent and innovative primary school. Shamser set Heaven Hill Academy up two and a half years ago, with the aim of providing inclusive education for children regardless of their caste, special educational needs and gender.
The Nepalese flag flying in the school.
The Nursery classroom. It is respectful in Nepal to take your shoes off before you enter indoor rooms.
The inside of the Nursery classroom. This is the extent of the resources that they have. The children have books and they enjoy writing letters and numbers and sing songs and dance. They hang their back packs on the beam so they are out of the way.