Workcamp in Sri Lanka
Read about the amazing school workcamp by SCI Sri Lanka.
From the 6th to the 15th of October 2023, SCI Sri Lanka organised a workcamp in Kinniya, a seaside town located in the Trincomalee District, in the North-Eastern Province of the country. Its aim was to teach English in a school in the area in order to improve communication between the diverse communities living there. The camp began on a Friday, the 5th of October. Volunteers started to join the camp base during the afternoon, despite the rain. In the evening, we shared our first dinner together and had a good time getting to better know each other before starting work the next day.
Antonio, our Italian volunteer, also improvised a little concert and impressed us with his singing and guitar playing skills. As Saturday was our first working day, which meant we could not go to school, we started by improving our camp base. Because this house is dedicated to welcome volunteers, each project is an opportunity to do some maintenance work in order to make it a better place for the next volunteers.
We spent the day building some new beds and benches, destroying an old wall and we started creating a terrace. After this hard work, we all headed to Muthur, a town located a few kilometers away from Kinniya, to visit Knox Farm, a project led by one of our SCI members. There, while the NEC members had to attend a meeting, the other volunteers enjoyed a boat ride and a swim on the sea. On the way back to the farm, we even had the chance to see a wild elephant walking on the edge of the river.
The next Sunday was quite similar as we had to finish the work we started the day before. In the evening, we also discussed the teaching plan we wanted to apply in school during the week. English learning appears to be even more essential in a place like Kinniya, to improve exchanges with the rest of Sri Lanka and to give to its youth all the opportunities they deserve. From Monday to Thursday, we divided into two groups according to the tasks we were willing to complete at school.
The first group was in charge of the renovation of an old classroom, with the aim of creating an English Unit. They started by clearing it from all the stuff stored in and by cleaning the premises. They also removed the damaged ceiling, repaired the floor by making concrete to fill the holes, put some new tiles on the roof and replaced doors and missing window parts. Finally, they painted the walls and drew a beautiful English alphabet on one of them. At the same time, a second group including the international volunteers took care of the teaching part of the project. As the school receives students from grade 1 to 11, we spent our first day in the primary school section, doing some creative activities and games with the kids to make them speak English and learn new words. The next two days were dedicated to the section of secondary school students. Considering they are older, we adopted a different approach by choosing a topic per day (world and professions) and split up in small groups to have discussions with them.
Finally, on our last teaching day, we came back to the primary section to continue the work we started at the beginning of the week. Friday was our last day at school and we spent it all together to celebrate a special English day organised by the teachers and the students. Before the beginning of the event, we inaugurated the new English Unit with the principal, the English teachers and some kids. Then, we all gathered in the auditorium to enjoy the performances prepared by the students. Kids from each grade sang, danced, played in dramas or made a speech in English.
Some children also received certificates to reward the winners of different events (handwriting, recitation, dictation, creation writing…) that were organised before the beginning of the camp. We volunteers also joined the show as we sang We will rock you together on stage and as Antonio sang a solo. After this special moment, we left the school feeling proud of the work we managed to do and we were very grateful for the welcome we had from the school.
In fact, it was not only the students who were happy to spend the week with us. The school principal warmly thanked us and is now determined to continue to work with SCI to bring more and more volunteers to her school. Parents were also very involved in the projects as they cooked lunch for us all along the week so we did not have to worry about that. Finally, next Saturday was our last and free day. We all went to Trincomalee to visit the famous Hindu Temple and to enjoy the beautiful Uppuveli beach. Then we went back to the camp base to have a little party during which we sang songs and played games together. After a short night, all the volunteers left in the early Sunday morning, hopefully with great memories of this special week in Kinniya.