First Summer Workcamp for a long time in Sri Lanka
10-days summer workcamp in Kudagama
SCI Sri Lanka is happy to inform you that after three years, we were able to hold a 10-days summer workcamp in Kudagama village close to Anurahapura, from the 14th until the 24th of July! We organized it together with a host organization: the Inspire Village.
Kudagama fishing village is located on the banks of one the biggest tanks (reservoir) in Sri Lanka. In this village there are about 20 families living in very small houses and their main livelihood is to catch fish to sell. Until recently toilet facilities, running water and electricity were not adequately provided. The main issue the village faces is that other people look down on them as they are fishermen and education for children has been challenging. That’s why we decided to focus this workcamp on educational activities for the children and the youth of the village in order to teach them English and motivate them to attend school every day. The purpose of having volunteers is to bring much needed outside recognition and acceptance to the village community.
The first days of the workcamp was dedicated to the preparation of the campsite and the teaching program. Some people gathered tools, collected coconuts or went shopping. Then we went to the campsite, celebrating the journey by singing many songs. We started to clean the garden which was full of grass and bushes. We also cleaned the community center hall and small house nearby. When we came back to the Inspire Village we were happy to wish Imashi a happy birthday, especially when she offered us cake and chocolate ice-cream!
The next days, we planned the English teaching program with the youth volunteers from the Inspire Village which is a group of 9 teenagers from 17 to 19 years old. We were divided into 5 small groups and discussed what we were going to teach according to the class levels. We were also really lucky to participate in the bonfire and Inspire kids’ soap auction and the Human Library program which were both really interesting experiences.
The trip in the cab to the campsite was a bit uncomfortable for all the volunteers because we were all piled up together with the baggage, mattresses and tools. Petrol is really expensive here so we have to optimize the transportation costs.
After four days of preparation and getting to know each other, we were finally ready to start our work with the local community. For five days we almost had the same schedule. We were cleaning the school premises, the garden or cooking for lunch. This part always took some time because we had to cook with firewood for a lot of people. Two carpenters also joined to make some renovations by building up a roof. In the afternoon we were teaching English to the students. We introduced many games to them to make the teaching more enthusiastic and interesting. There were 3 special needs children in grade 6 so one of the volunteers, Nuwan, taught them sign language. We realized that they enjoyed our way of teaching a lot because day by day more students were joining. We too felt so happy teaching them and we also learned something when the school girls taught us how to perform Sri Lankan dance!
The Inspire village also has a group of kids that took part in some of the work as young volunteers. Indeed they came to the school one day with their own material and painted a nice fresco on one of the buildings.
Since the people from this community are quite poor, we decided to serve some snacks to the children coming to the school such as chickpeas, manioca or bread and sambol. We were able to afford this thanks to the SCI India (Karnataka group) relief fund they kindly sent us during these times of crisis.
On the last day, we were invited to visit the children’s house on the way to our accommodation. They seemed very happy to introduce us to their parents and elders and they kindly offered us snacks and soft drinks. According to us, this moment was really important to show to these people that we are equal and we don’t let them apart. That night we had a nice dinner prepared by the Inspire Youth and we sang songs around cooking hearth until midnight.
Finally, on our last day, we had our evaluation in the morning. Everyone spent a great workcamp and the Inspire Youth were really happy about their first experience as volunteers. In the evening, everyone went to visit Anuradhapura sacred places by tractor and bicycles. It was a very interesting excursion and we had a lot of fun.
During the evaluation, someone mentioned that some parents requested us to teach more English to their kids, so the Inspire Youth decided to go back to Kudagama school and teach the students for another two weeks in August. SCI’s work still goes on !
By SCI Sri Lanka. Thanks Youna for writing the article!