Sports Tour to Sri Lanka
After a long and tiring 11 hour journey, we finally arrived in Sri Lanka. The hotel did not disappoint with its amazing views and warming welcome. On our first visit to Seenigama School, we taught a 2 hour English lesson to two classes of children aged between 10 and 14. Their enthusiasm was contagious and they even wrote their own letters in reply to Year 2 students at Valley Invicta Leybourne Chase Primary school. After lunch, we then had a 3 hour netball session with the school’s netball team. We were surprised by their level of skill and let’s just say the matches were very competitive!
To begin our second day, we visited Ahungalla Sea Turtle Conservation Centre. We were taken through a turtle shaped aquarium with baby sharks and lobsters. Coming out of the aquarium we were greeted with a nest of 200 eggs; these were of different species of endangered turtle, e.g. the green turtle. We were then shown baby turtles which we were giving the opportunity to hold, (they were only a couple of weeks old.) We got some very cute pictures with them and many other bigger turtles, such as the rare albino turtle, (there’s only 1000 of them in Sri Lanka.)
We then continued our day at the school where they greeted us with lunch. In the afternoon, we led a session of football, where we taught many football drills, such as dribbling, passing and shooting. The children loved it and many of the locals joined in!
Day 3 took us back to the Foundation of Goodness where we painted one of their walls grey - some of us ended up with more point on ourselves than on the wall! It was a much more enjoyable experience than we originally thought it was going to be. In the afternoon, we played Rounders, Capture the Flag and other fun games with the local school children. Some of us were taught numbers, colours and even body parts by the Sri Lankan children as well which was very interesting!
In the morning of day 4 we went to a historic town called Galle. We walked around the Fort and saw some amazing sights! For lunch we went to Pizza Hut, which was nice and it provided us with a home comfort. In the afternoon, we went back to the Foundation of Goodness and did a mixture of athletics drills and playground games. The evening consisted of some great singing by all of us in the karaoke night at the hotel - X Factor here we come!
What an emotional day 5! We started our day with a visit to another project the Foundation of Goodness have been working on since the tsunami. It was a real eye-opener to see and hear about the extent of the damage which the 2004 tsunami caused - the water levels were over 12ft in the village we have been staying in when the waves hit. Through the dedicated and committed work of the Foundation of Goodness, it is truly amazing to see so much good arise from such an awful situation.
After visiting the project, we returned to the club house for a yoga session. Although funny at times, we all left feeling very relaxed and bendy! The afternoon consisted of our last teaching session at the Foundation. After a few games of rounders with the older children, we then witnessed a special music and dance performance by some of the local villagers. The founder of the Foundation of Goodness (who travelled for over 3 hours just to come and speak to us!) then made a very moving and emotional speech, thanking us for all our hard work over the last five days. We were all in tears - including him! The stories and experiences he shared with us were both heart-breaking and inspirational. We were then each presented with a framed photo collage, containing photos of us and the local children taken across the week, along with a volunteering certificate and a Foundation of Goodness wristband. We were also given a commemorating plaque, which we will of course display proudly at school.
After an emotional farewell, it was time to head back to the hotel to pack for our onward journey to Kandy. I think it is clear to say that, through our time with the Foundation of Goodness, we have all made memories and friendships that we hope will last a lifetime.
On Saturday, (day 6) we travelled from Colombo to Kandy for 6 hours on a coach. The travel was very tiring for most of us and we were all exhausted when we finally got to the hotel- Amaya Hills. However, before we reached the hotel we stopped several times for some sightseeing. This included a restaurant for lunch, a tea plantation factory and a traditional, cultural show.
At the tea plantation we were given a tour of the tea bushes farms and also the factory where the leaves are made to tea. The tea bushes looked a lot like any bush that we would get at home but apparently was actually much different in sense of flavour and texture, which would benefit the final tea made. The factory had no air conditioning, so therefore it was very hot. The smell of the tea made it very hard to stay in there for long as it was so strongly scented that it made people’s eyes water. However, it was very interesting to see how tea is made and the different types of tea there are. We were able to try some tea in the shop after the tour and lots of people bought boxes of Sri Lankan tea to take home to their families.
Then we went to a traditional cultural show in Kandy. It started with a variety of musical instruments accompanied by traditional dances. There were 11 in total and these included everything from dances representing offerings to one involving fire and a form of plate spinning. They were so impressive, but one of the key highlights was when a dancer with a mask appeared in the audience! We were all quite taken aback at first, but it was so funny when they started running around us all! We also found the drums really impressive and the “orchestra” performance at the end was so good; we’d never heard anything like it before. It included three different types of drums! The costumes were also amazing and it was such a great experience to witness something that plays a massive part in Sri Lankan culture.
Day 7 was our first day in the new hotel in Kandy. It was great waking up to an amazing view of the mountains. We had a short journey on the coach to the Temple of the Tooth. We got to experience Sri Lanka’s culture and religion by leaving flowers as an offering to Buddha, as well as seeing the shrines. We then got back on the coach and travelled to the Sigiriya Rock, which we climbed up to see the views. It was very tiring but the view was worth it, especially as when climbing the rock we got to see monkeys close up. All the exercise we did left us hungry, so we stopped for lunch at a nearby restaurant. When we had finished our lunch, we went on an amazing safari in Jeeps and got to see lots of elephants in their natural habitat, as well as peacocks. We couldn’t believe how close we were to the elephants, which was also slightly scary! Once we had finished the safari we went back to our hotel, where we enjoyed the buffet dinner.
Our final day and we left Amaya Hills resort and drove to Colombo, stopping off along the way at a shopping centre and a spice garden. At the spice garden, we were treated to face and neck massages using natural, herbal products! For lunch we all had Pizza Hut and then travelled to Colombo. First stop, a little shopping at a market where many of us bought elephant trousers and magnets! After this, we drove to a beach where we sat and admired the view. Following on from this, we went for a coach trip around Colombo, stopping off at the Mini White House and Victoria Gardens. For dinner, we went to the Bay Leaf Restaurant and all sat together outside surrounded by fairy lights. After eating, Island Leisure presented each of us with a tea book as a gift as well as a plaque for the school, thanking us for coming on the trip and teaching sports at the Foundation of Goodness.
Tomorrow, we will be embarking on our long journey home. We cannot believe how quickly our 10 days in Sri Lanka has gone, and how many memories we have made. We hope to be back again soon!