Guest post by Yogi & Nikita Patel
We traveled to Sri Lanka to work with Trunks & Leaves in support of schools surrounding the Udawalawe National Park. We first arrived in Negombo, Sri Lanka where we were met by Deepani, who works with Trunks & Leaves, and her friend Jocelyn. We traveled by car to Udawalawe where we were joined by Sameera, the project coordinator. We visited the first Montessori preschool, operated by Sameera’s sister, Chathurika. She was gracious in showing us the school, which was closed for the holidays. She had been hard at work painting furniture and cleaning the classroom and play area for her 18 students. Her school, which is attached to her home, is surrounded by many fruit trees. Her family members supported her passion for educating children in her town.
Our next stop was school teacher Shiromi’s home. We met with Shiromi who greeted us with her family and offered the most amazing homecooked treats. We chatted about her work in the village and her school, Dimuthu preschool. We met with Shiromi again the following day, where we observed the children in her classroom. The parents were very supportive of Shiromi and came to the school with their children even though they were supposed to be on holiday. We got to sing and dance the “hokey pokey”.
Deepani, Yogi and Sameera with the first cohort of preschool teachers whose schools received support from Trunks & Leaves’ sponsors (photo courtesy of Yogi Patel).
Students at Kalawelgala elementary school can now learn in peace thanks to the metal grilles installed on the windows, which prevent monkeys and other animals from getting in.
Back in June we held a crowdfunding campaign to support our work with some of the villages bordering Udawalawe National Park and the Wetahirakanda corridor. Thanks to our sponsors, we were able to raise $6000 for improvements at five pre-schools (Montessories) and an elementary school. We re-visited each of the schools in July to confirm their needs. In August it was my pleasure to visit with each of the teachers in order to provide the initial installments of funds. As the schools were on break, we visited several at their homes. Each teacher undertook individual accountability for showing that work was progressing and funds were being spent as intended.
Ms. Lakshimini accepts the sponsorship.
The first stop was with Ms. Lakmini of Pubudu Pre-school. Continue reading
Students at Rathambalagamuwa (pictured below) and Uda Walawe have picked up the pen-pal project. We hope this will be the beginning of many exchanges, so that students develop a one-on-one relationship with their buddies overseas. We’ve got many ideas for future projects!
See more photos and learn about the program here!
The Pen Pal Team
In a previous postwe mentioned a new project, “A Conversation About Conservation.” We asked students in the U.S. and Sri Lanka if they would like to learn about one another through good-old-fashioned letters. That’s right, pen-pals. We wanted students to exchange thoughts on their lives and views, especially about nature and wildlife. Happily, the response was quite enthusiastic! Learn more by clicking here.