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GAP YEAR | VOLUNTEER ABROAD | WORK EXPERIENCE OVERSEAS

 

Volunteers' Stories

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bill-ray

         

BILL RAY
British

The Elephant Experience Voluntary Project at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka
         

I am unable to find the words to praise the whole experience highly enough!! It was everything that I expected and far more.

…Everything was perfect. We spent a very pleasant evening at the house in Ja-Ela, and Niranjala [Travellers' Organiser] cooked us a lovely meal. The following morning, because we were awaiting the arrival of another volunteer, we had time to spare, and Naranjala arranged for us to go into Colombo by Tuk-Tuk with one of the other volunteers.

Once the new arrival had been collected from the airport, we set off on our journey to Kegalle. Although the journey was hot, the company was excellent, and the time passed quickly. The house at Kegalle was set in a quiet road, and we were welcomed like old friends. As there were only three of us volunteers in the house for the whole week that we were there, we were treated like Kings and Queens.

Because the two girls were not too keen on very spicy food, the cook, Chandana, could not have been better, and toned down the food to suit. In fact, all three of us said that he ought to open a restaurant.

Our first day at the orphanage surpassed all expectations. Even before our induction, we were allowed to wash two elephants!! Induction completed, and uniform in place, we were taken around and shown the facility, including an introduction to Raja, a 72 year old “tusker”. Later we followed the small herd of elephants to the river, and were allowed to enter the water with them and wash them.

Because we had expressed a desire to ride on an elephant, Niranjela even arranged to take us to a local place to be able to do that before returning to the house for lunch.
On our final day, after we finished work, returned to the house, showered and had lunch, it eventually hit me that I wouldn’t be at the orphanage again the next day. Although I am 67 years old, I confess, that I took myself off to a corner of the garden and cried!

Every day we experienced something new, and I can not speak too highly of all the staff at the orphanage, and especially Niranjala, Chaminda, Nish and Chandana. Whatever we wanted to do, they arranged!!

I am still in email and text communication with them all, and can’t wait to go again next year.

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PINAWALA ELEPHANT EXPERIENCE Project
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Kegalle

Mother and Child, so adorable!