This year for my final week without walls, I was put in the housing group to Hambanthota. I went on the same trip last year and I had a great experience and learnt so much. This year when Mr. Lockwood told me, I was so super excited. This week without walls is a very physical week without walls, a lot of labour work is required as well as patience and lots of mental strength. Last year when we went on this trip our group was not prepared at all and we weren’t ready to face any obstacle that came our way but this year it was very different. Mr. Rossberg had requested that Nehe and I join the housing trip this year as well since we knew how everything worked on this week without walls. On this trip we have four days; and on these four days the first days is dedicated to traveling because it is a four hour drive to hamanthota and about half an hour to Janouda foundation. After we get there we have lunch and we have free time and we go to and see Hambanthota and explore the area, we look at the wild life, tusnami ruins, british colony ruins and overall the just explore the area and get and understanding of the area that we are working in. Day two, three we are teaching kids for 2 hours (from 9:00 – 11:30) and we work (making fences and planting mango trees) from about 2:30 till sun down. But before we went on this trip there was a lot of planning that was required.
Planning For Teaching The Kids
There was a lot of planning required in order to make sure that kids will not get bored and that they will be engaged the entire time. Mr. Rossberg said that the teaching time is one and half hours and that time doesn’t seem like much but when working with kids who are from ages of 3 – 5 it is very difficult to keep them engaged. Last year the groups that went did not do their planning very well including me, so this year I made that my group had at least 10 exersieces and I picked activities that are fun and hopeful time consuming because we have to keep them engaged. In my group I had Harin, Jack and Mathew.
Lessons for day one
The Friday before we left, I printed all the worksheets and activites that we were going to do with them.
Lesson on day two
I bought all the stuff we needed to create this art, I cut out about 100 fish, got colored long stringy decorating stuff, glitter and regiform board. Just incase this activity finishes faster than we expect I had back up coloring activities ready for them.
HAMBANTHOTA HOUSING TRIP
Day one was lot of traveling from one place to the next. We left OSC at 8:00 am hoping that we’ll make it to Hambanthota around 12:30 – 1:00 pm. From OSC to Hambanthota it is around 225km and to the Janudo foundation its about another 10 – 15 km.
After we got to the Janoda foundation we had lunch and had about half an hour to settle down before we were taken around Hambanthota to see the area. We went to an old British ruin and looked at area, there is a beautiful beach there with an amazing view.
Then we went to Mattello Towers, this is basically a prison and trust me it is very scary in there (thank you Mr. Rossberg and Emily for putting me in that very dark room) . After this we went up to Bundala and looked some wildlife; saw some monkeys, lots of birds and a crocodile. Then we went to see the fishermen fish and enjoyed the sunset
Once we finished watching the sunset we headed back the foundation where we had got time to shower and clean up and get ready for dinner. After dinner we had lesson planning time to make sure that we have everything ready for tomorrow because teaching kids, it is not an easy task. I have prepared everything before hand so it was very easy for me and my group, we just relaxed after our group was approved by Mr. Rossberg.
Day two wake up time was 6:30 am and we had to get dressed and by ready for breakfast by 7:30 am and we had to be ready to teach the kids at 8:45.
As we went to the garden area where the kids were doing their prayers they were all lined up with flowers to welcome us. They were beautiful and very colourful if I may add.
We started the day off with some activities outside, the teachers were singing and dancing around the garden and we joined them and did exactly what they did as somewhat of an ice breaker and so that the kids will warm up to us and would want to work. Just like we had planned we did everything, starting from a matching activity, to a nature walk outside where we had a check list of things like find flowers, dirt, leaves or clouds and kids will find them and check the little box. we walked all over the huge garden trying to find insects, ants, flowers and leaves and it was good exercies it kept the involved and i think that they had fun too. After we did the nature walk we came inside the classroom and we had a colouring activity with them and after that we made finger puppets. By this time we had already worked for 2 hours and it was time for them to go. the kids were really good and the activities that we had kept them engaged and they loved which made it very easy for us to work with although there was this one kid who would only listen to jack and he made like a little hard but Jack took over him and Harin and Mathew really helped me with the other kids in the group overall it was a really fun experience.
Working – Tree planting group
Joshua, Emily, Harin, Liana and I got put into the group where we had to plant trees. Initially we went to this orphanage where we were going to plant trees but they had dug the wholes so deep and so wide we could not do anything there. So we came back to the foundation and Mr. Gamage said that we could plant the trees in his massive garden. So we started digging. we had to make holes that we 1 and half foot wide and 1 foot deeps. The ground there is so dry it is so hard to dig. each one of us spent at least 20 mins on each hole. Since we started work late we were not able to get us much done but we dug 7 holes on the first day and by the the time 8th one was dug it was sun down and we had to go and shower before it got too dark. The digging is a lot of physical work and it hurts every part of you body once you decide to take a break. Doing this type of work really helps us appreciate the benefits that we have, but experiences like this are valued highly because it teaches you the aspects of labour and poverty.
Labour and Poverty are huge issues that not only Sri Lanka is facing but many countries all over the world. Experiences like this help us get a better understanding on how hard people in rural areas need to work in order to make a little sum of money.
Day three wake up time was 6:30 am and we had to get dressed and by ready for breakfast by 7:30 am and we had to be ready to teach the kids at 8:30.
On this day we started working a little earlier because Mr. Rossberg wanted us to see how the kids do all their prayers and how the teachers handle the kids first thing in the morning. The teachers have lots of patience and they use song or singing as a way of controlling them and everything is done through play. So in the morning they do this thing where they sing nursery rhymes and act like animals outside in the graden and after they make a huge train and they go back to class.
After these activities were done we procceded to work with the kids. First, we started off with a matching activity, to make sure that the kids remember what they did from yesterday. The matching activity went well and the kids remembered what they were doing which made our group feel every accomplished! Then we started working on the huge fish board with the names, what I did was I covered the whole board with blue tissues paper so that it looked like the sea and i cut out lots of fish. I gave the kids the fish to colour while I wrote down all the kids names on small pieces of paper, Harin and Mathew were helping the kids colour the fish. While I was pasting the names on the fish Harin, Mathew and Jack pasted corals (stringy coloured paper) all over the board. Once I was done I got the kids to paste the fish on the board and now the kids have a name board.
After this was done the kids and I put glitter all over our mural and all the kids helped me take it out the dry up. It was so nice to see them all so happy after it was done.
Working – Tree planting group
We started working around 2:00pm and we started digging. the ground was way too hard and dry so we all worked together one whole and tried our best to dig as many as we can. We dug about 6 more holes when the fencing boys decided to come and help us dig holes and proccess so much faster that way. Digging holes are not easy, it is very hard and takes a lot of time. We had many blisters on our hands.
The digging ended around 6:30 pm and we all showered and we cooked dinner for everyone. We made pasta with tomato sauce (thank god for leggos and barilla tomato sauce) all we had to do was fry some onions and garlic and pour the two sauces in order to make a delicious sauce. We also had pesto sauce and cheese…. it was a yummy dinner and we all eat so much because we were so tired and very hungry.
The fourth day was the last day at the foundation. In the morning we went to this pottery place and looked at how they make traditional pottery. we had to spin the wheel while someone else was making the pot. This was very difficult because it requires a lot of strength and our group was half dead and we had so many blisters on our hands it was so hard to do the pottery but it was a fun experience. The people there are so nice, they helped us make pots and made us feel accomplished although the pottery lady did most of the work, it made us feel good.
Once the pottery was done we headed to the foundation and we said our goodbyes and we left to Shangri La. This time we felt like we deserved Shangri La. We went there around 1:00 pm and we had a delicious lunch we had time to chill till 3:00 and we went to a beach near by to clean it all up. The beach that we were going to is near the Hambanthota port and it is artificially made, well there is an artificial barrier that protects the reef from getting damaged. This barrier was created to protect the life under water and the corals that this area has. The beach doesn’t look like it is very polluted but it is disgusting. The fishermen and the locals have put so much trash there; from clothes, bottles, fishnest to the most random things you would find near a beach.
This beach was much harder to clean because it was at a slant and it made it much harder to talk and it made us very tired but it was a good cause. Mr. Palinda was telling us about how badly the locals look after the beach and no one really bother to come and clean it up. There are many beaches all over Sri Lanka that are polluted very bad and not taken care of. Which made me re-think many things that I do that are probably bad for the environment. This was a real eye-opener.
We were done with the cleaning by 5:30 and we headed back to the hotel and we had downtime till 7:00 and we had dinner all together and we all had downtime till 10:00pm. We watched the Chef a really good tv show on Netflix and just as the movie was coming to an end, the perfect way to end the day the fire alarm goes off. It was a false alarm but it was a little flighting but it was all okay.
Day Five – Returning home
By this time I was ready to come back home.
This was the best trip that I have every been on. The people were so nice and we were able to bond over many things and it was amazing. We made our own tribal group, went four days without our phones and did lots of work which we were very proud. We had two really good supervisers who were a lot of fun and I (and i am very sure the group did too) enjoyed ourselves very much. Everything went well and overall it was just an amazing experience. This was the perfect way to end my Week Without Walls experience!
📸: Mr. Rossberg, Ms.Amanda & Mr. Palinda