Our Blog - Up Close and Personal with Mom2Mom Africa!
What 31 days, 744 hours, and 44640 minutes in Sri Lanka can teach you...
Submitted by Rachel Quinn, September 2016...
Everybody has that ONE place that they have always dreamed of traveling to… Whether it be a place with long, white, sandy beaches and crystal blue waters or a thick and luscious jungle filled with hundreds of different species around every turn. For me, Sri Lanka was neither of those places. In fact, up until I came across it while searching for a summer adventure, I hadn’t really ever thought about Sri Lanka; When I clicked on its link, however, it filled my screen with mountains, beaches, and jungles, and was quick to display its diverse culture and wildlife.
Sri Lanka continued to lure me in, as the website then raved about its volunteers aiding in local sea turtle conservation projects as well as teaching English in local schools. Before I had even determined exactly “where” Sri Lanka was on a map, I was already reserving my place at the Kosgoda Sea Turtle Project, in Kosgoda Sri Lanka, for the month of august.
While I made the decision to go to Sri Lanka fairly quickly, the planning dragged on as I looked for flights, researched tourist visas, and figured out how to register with the Canadian embassy. In the end, luckily, I have no doubts in saying that all the hours spent planning paid off. The time I spent working at the Kosgoda Sea Turtle Project was the most valuable and worthwhile experience I have had in my twenty-one-year-old life. From helping the hatchlings crawl from their nests, to cleaning the shells of the temperamental Howksbill turtles, every moment was immensely rewarding.
The tours I lead through the center only grew longer with the more time I spent in Kosgoda, as each day I gained new knowledge and insight into the sea turtle species and into the personalities of the turtles themselves. While working with the other volunteers who were from “all over” as the turtle project manager Veejay liked to say, I learned each person’s unique reasons for being there and this in itself, was enlightening.
As if helping to preserve one of the world’s oldest and most delicate species wasn’t enough, teaching English in local schools aside the other volunteers would stand to be an extraordinary opportunity (especially since I want to be a teacher). In the end, this was true, but it was a rocky road getting there!
The other volunteers and I were given a small bag of children’s books and we were dropped off at 1:00 and told to be ready to leave at 4:00. With little guidance, we had to find a way to teach eleven 10 year olds English… without knowing the slightest bit of their native language. This, undoubtedly, was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but it is often the hardest tasks that come with the biggest sense of accomplishment, and in this case that was true. This gave me a small taste of what Mom2Mom Africa, as an organization, aims to accomplish daily. Education is the future and its benefits became more clear to me every minute that I spent working with these children, who at the age of 10, already know what they need to do to if they hope to have a “stable” future.
I spent one month in Sri Lanka, 31 days, 744 hours, and 44640 minutes. Within this time span I learned and grew more than I ever thought I could in such a “short” amount of time. I learned lessons which will guide me and memories that will shape me, as they did to so many others before me.
My name is Rachel Quinn and I am a student volunteer for Mom2Mom Africa. I am currently a student studying French and Community Development at the University of Western Ontario. I am involved in several volunteering initiatives in local schools and in volunteer programs pertaining to wildlife conservation. My family helps support three children in Africa, along with an orphaned elephant at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. By volunteering with Mom2Mom Africa I hope to increase my knowledge of educational issues in order to prepare her for my future career as a teacher.