While the majority of our work is about providing physical infrastructure, we are also increasingly prioritising ‘soft’ items such as school trips.
We believe these are very important.
It is what we often remember most vividly from our own school days.
And we are conscious that many Sri Lankan children never get the chance to travel very far from their villages.
Few have seen elephants in the wild even though they all know they are threatened by the country's development.
Luckily for us, our Project Manager, Jaya, previously worked in elephant conservation.
As a result, has been able to bring his love of the aliya (Sinhala for elephant) to life for the children he takes on the trips.
A typical trip sees about 60 to 80 children take part.
If it is a junior school trip, we normally go away for
one day and often to the national zoo in Colombo so the children can see a wide
variety of new animals.
If it is a senior school trip, we typically structure a two to three day trip to different parts of Sri Lanka.
The itinerary normally has a strong environmental theme so the children can study animals in the field and witness first hand their country’s different climatic zones.
The most frequent request is to go to the tea country, which is the complete opposite to Tissa.
The air is much cooler and the plants and the scenery very different.
When they return, we ask
the children to write up their trip notes, awarding prizes for the best essays in each grade.
We have conducted 16 trips over the past couple of years, with the full support and participation from the principals, teachers and parents.
Each trip costs about US$300 to US$400.
Most of this covers the coach hire.
Food is provided by the parents who cook it over an open fire, while local temples provide free accommodation for schools.
Andaragasyaya Primary School, Bundala School, Debarawewa Presidents Primary College, Kande Viharaya Temple, Kawantissapura School, KG 01 Primary School, Kirinda Muslim School, Mulana School, Nadigamwila School, Osuwinna School, Pustollamulla School, Tissapura School, Uduwila School, Weerahela School, Mahasenpura School, Athbatuwa School