Geraldine Canavan and Marie O’Connor share their experience from volunteering at the Blue Rose Special School.
The Blue Rose School is an essential amenity for special needs children, run by extraordinary people. The six teachers are paid a minimum amount to provide a much-needed service for the most vulnerable of their society, and without which there would be nowhere for them to turn.
SCI runs projects all over Sri Lanka, for example in the eastern area where the problems of poverty and homelessness are almost overwhelming; this area has been devastated by the Tamil war, the Tsunami and flooding in the recent past. There are also affiliated projects they support, for example, the Loving Mother Project and an environmental project in the Bamboo forest outside Kandy.
Our visit to Kandy in Sri Lanka took place from18th August to 5th September 2011. During our stay we had a number of goals:
– To offer assistance to the Blue Rose Special School in order to improve the conditions of the special needs children
– To help with SCI projects as appropriate or requested
– To experience Sri Lankan social lifestyle and cultural heritage.
We painted the fencing in a project in Mampitiya Hospital, Kandy for our first two days. We initiated a project to paint the handrails around the SCI office and Blue Rose School complex and paint the floors and outer wall of the school. We were helped by the teachers, parents, some of the special needs children and local volunteers.
We helped with the Mushroom project, collecting, weighing and bagging the mushrooms for sale. They have a ready market with the local hotels prepared to pay for the packed mushrooms. We initiated a garden project with Mahanama, a local volunteer. We had brought seeds from Dublin (flowers and vegetables that would grow in this climate) and we weeded and cleared the garden in preparation for the planting of the seeds.
We visited one of the villages involved in the Loving Mother project located within the Kandy District. The project hosts a travelling workshop for village mothers to educate them in the areas of child-rearing, the environment and general hygiene. We visited many temples and historical buildings/ruins in Sri Lanka; most particularly the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy and various historical temples within the Cultural Triangle area (Dambulla, Sigiriya, Polonnarawa and many of the temples in the Kandy region).
The SCI people looked after us extremely well, ensuring we visited all the areas of cultural and historic interest we wanted to see. The Sri Lankan people are a wonderful race and have a great sense of community under much financial adversity. We will never forget them and hope to be able to aid them into the future.
We had a fantastic experience that far exceeded our expectations and we would highly encourage volunteers to volunteer in this area.
Written by Geraldine Canavan and Marie O’Connor