‘IODR was an amazing, eye-opening experience and one that I will never forget. Working with the children was so rewarding. I learned a great deal about how to better communicate and my teaching skills have improved substantially. It was fantastic to completely immerse myself in Sri Lankan culture and help such lively, enthusiastic children. During my time there I truly connected with the children and was very upset to leave IODR. The staff were amazing and I am thankful for their generosity and kindness. The knowledge I acquired during my time at IODR will help me for the rest of my life which is why I am so grateful. It was a phenomenal opportunity.
I was informed that volunteering of IODR would change lives and I can truly vouch for that. I did not anticipate that the life changing experiences would be for both myself and the wonderful children who like sponges were willing and enthusiastic to the point of desperation to learn and absorb information.
The backgrounds of the children and whatever families they have was extremely poor – with no electricity, nonexistent sanitation and no facilities to assist or support learning. No books, no pencils; nothing which we will take for granted. I was told that the children would be from challenging circumstances, but I had no comprehension of what that meant in practice! No parents, no comfort and little or no love or human contact outside of a very limited framework.
It was a pleasure and privilege to interact with the children, to communicate with them in whatever medium we could find and to encourage them to laugh, to play & to learn. Confidence grew and self worth started to develop in just a few days, such that by the end of my voluntary time I did not want to leave. The bond between myself and so many others remain and I can’t wait to go back.’
'I wish I had more time to spend at IODR, two weeks was simply not enough! Working with the children made such a positive difference on both their lives and mine. It was an utterly enriching experience to be able to teach them English and watch them learn and grow. The children are wonderful; their positivity and enthusiasm for life is contagious. The school is a heart-breaking place to work, but your mere presence can make such a difference to the children’s lives. The staff at IODR were so kind that I felt at home despite the fact I was half way across the world. The skills that I acquired whilst working with the children have been useful in my day-to-day life ever since. I am so grateful for this beautiful experience and will never forget it. I cannot wait to return!
Weligama is not about education in the traditional sense. While we were there, we encouraged children to develop and gain confidence in many other ways. With the younger children this was about teaching the alphabet, animals and their noises, the months of the year and parts of the body through song and dance. With the older children, we taught them English grammar and how to put sentences together. In ICT classes, we asked the children about their favourite movies and they would create a PowerPoint presentation on it.
Playtime is all about fun. With the younger children we all blew bubbles and popped them with our hands. We gave out stickers. We played volleyball with the older children. They were so much better than us and they would all laugh when we missed a ball!'
The little children would say "I lub you" to us on a daily basis.'
Genevieve and Ione
Our time at the centre was one of great enjoyment and we both agree that it was an unforgettable experience that has made a great impact on both of us.
What made it unforgettable was the great atmosphere at the centre. Everyone there including teachers, managing directors, neighbouring villagers and even security staff made us feel welcome and appreciated; in particular we must make a special mention of Daya and Muthu who both consistently went out of their way to make sure that we got the best from our time there and yet refused anything in return.
Above all however, it was the children who made it truly great. Everyday we were greeted by smiling, enthusiastic faces. The fact that they were an hour early for lessons was a clear sign to us of how much they appreciated what IODR was doing for them. In our time we never had a dull moment as we were constantly involved in the children’s’ activities, in particular volleyball which seemed to be a favourite pastime and therefore is now a sport which we feel that we can now safely say that we are experts in, watch out London Olympics 2012!
Another highlight for the children was music and dancing in particular, which both the boys and girls enjoyed immensely and while we taught them the well known English dance “The Macarena” which they all learnt very quickly, they tried to teach us some of their dances. Alas I think that lone may have had a few problems grasping the idea that some idea of rhythm is needed in order to dance, but this did not matter to them and much fun was had by all!
What we really learnt though was not to take things for granted. We truly felt humbled after visiting their houses and seeing how little they had and yet their attitude was so positive. We only hope that by teaching them we gave something back.
Please keep us closely posted on any changes or plans for the future of the centre and we will be happy to help as much as possible.