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Volunteers' Stories





Teaching English to Children Project
Elephant Experience at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage Project in Sri Lanka

Carina took part in two projects and she told us her experiences
Teaching Project
Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage Project

Teaching English in Sri Lanka

Wow – where do I start?? I have just had the most amazing experience of my life, the only bad part was that it had to come to an end. Sitting at my desk, now back in the boring routine that I once left behind, I ask myself why on earth did I come back??! I would give anything to be back out in Sri Lanka, playing volleyball with the orphan-boys, washing the elephants in the river, taking Tony the Chimp on a walk around the zoo, or even just lying on a paradise beach somewhere  – I’m not fussy, any of them would do.

Well for the past three months that was my life, not something that I wanted to give up and I hold such strong memories of all the experiences that I came across. I would recommend this experience to anyone. I was lucky enough to have a friend to share the adventure with, as it turned out, we found that we were extremely compatible travelling partners (three months in each others pockets and not one argument – pretty impressive ay?!). All the other people we met out there had come on their own, but we all soon became one big happy family in the house. It was so nice to have the support and companionship of the others, it certainly gives you the confidence to do things you might not feel comfortable doing on your own.

One important fact that I learnt from this trip is that the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. It may sound an old cliché but it is so true. You can join in as much or as little as you want to. And being the type of people that Nat and I are – we took full advantage of every opportunity!

We were both really worried, no I’ll rephrase that, we were both petrified about teaching to start with, I mean, how am I going to teach English to a bunch of Sri Lankans when I don’t understand a word they’re saying? Thankfully the fear disappeared as soon as we stepped into the classroom. Nat and I ended up taking the majority of the adult classes, we built up a strong relationship with the students and their English is amazing – they improve so quickly its frightening!

We also taught at the schools, which we enjoyed immensely, it can be daunting at first, as a lot of the schools have many classes in one hall, so you can imagine the noise, you do need a loud voice at times! The children are just amazing though and they will all remember your name for your next visit, which makes you feel kind of special.

Anyone wanting a taste of the celebrity life style – I highly recommend this to you. I don’t know how many photos I had to pose for, how many autographs I had to sign, people will point and stare at you, at first its quite off putting, but funnily enough you soon get used to it and now that I am back in England, I have to admit that I miss all the attention!!

I have to mention that one thing I was quite worried about was the choice of food out there, being a veggie, I was rather worried that I was going to be stuck with nothing but rice and curry. Don’t get me wrong, I did eat my fair share of the stuff, and I actually quite like it now, I wasn’t a fan before.

One great thing that happened while we were there, a KFC opened up in Ja Ela, a 10 minute walk from the house – we couldn’t believe our luck, and they do a wicked veggie burger and it is just SO cheap – you can get an ice-cream for 5p !

The general routine out there is that you work during the week and then you have the weekends free to explore the island. This works out perfectly, so every Friday afternoon we would venture off to different parts of the island. We did everything. From the rain forest to the beaches, Adam’s Peak, the Ancient Cities, the Elephant Orphanage, the Zoo, the tea plantations, the waterfalls, I could go on! We certainly made the most of the time we had there.

Nat and I used to play a lot of Basketball, but since we’ve been working, we never had the opportunity, so it was great for us being able to play everyday. So we convinced Roshan to buy us some bikes so we could cycle to the school every morning, it worked out brilliantly, you have to play before the sun comes up – otherwise it just gets too hot!

 We always played with some guys from our adult class and we had an audience of about 300 students watching us, they were fascinated to see that girls could play physical sport!

Now back at my desk and back into the same old routine that I once left behind, I cannot wait to go back out there – it has certainly left me hungry for more. Like I said before, I would recommend this adventure to anyone. I owe a lot to Travellers, as the knowledge that I gained cannot be brought, only experienced.

Elephant Orphanage Project in Pinnawala, Sri Lanka

The best part of the whole experience for me had to be working at the Elephant Orphanage. Oh my god, what an opportunity, those sorts of experiences don’t come along everyday.

Work in the morning was ‘hard-work’, but great fun at the same time, but you get your reward in the afternoon when the Mahoots let you go in the river and wash the elephants. They had to drag me out of there everyday, as I didn’t want to leave. I built up a close bond with one of the elephants ‘Sapu’ – a seven-year-old female. The Mahoots taught us the commands, and I was over-the-moon when she actually obeyed me!! It was such a good feeling.

 It was just so amazing to be up close with these animals, not many organisations let you do that these days. So for that, I am eternally grateful.

More Information about your Trip with Travellers

List of ALL PROJECTS in Sri Lanka
TEACHING Projects in Sri Lanka

Carina at the Elephant Orphanage

Carina with Chimp


Carina with Chimp