2016, JULY: TRAVIS; STUDENT, CIRENCESTER, UK. RA UNIVERSITY
GROUP: VILLAGE DEVELOPMENT
I volunteered with GAFV and 7 others during my university vacation in 2016, and I had such an amazing time I’m hoping to lead a team back out here from my Uni in 2017. There really is something for everyone here volunteering with GAFV, and they organise it really well. Any hiccoughs, because they are there with us in Sri Lanka, are sorted out straight away, and never become a problem. The accommodation was really good, and the transport – we opted for a mini bus each day - was all arranged, which made life so much easier for us. This cost an extra £50 each per person for the 2 weeks' volunteering days, but it really was worth it. GAFV also organised a 2 day mini-tour for us to the beach and other sites on our days off, and were flexible with the programme, as on one work day we went to a local hotel – which was a fantastic place, with a great swimming pool. One of the things I really liked was that we worked a 4 day week, and so we had plenty of time to work and relax, without feeling too tired, because we did work hard. We were involved in an infrastructure project, but it could so easily have been about agriculture, organic agriculture, wildlife conservation, tree planting and reforestation, or education. We missed the herd of 100 elephants that live near the village, and the crocodiles, but we saw some amazing sites, natural, and archaeological – including dolphins, and elephants – on our tour. GAFV are clearly committed to the villagers they work with, as they got on really well with them all. We were welcomed by dancers, and had a great send off at the end, with a village meeting, presentation with a certificate, as well as participation in a Buddhist festival. I really loved the pottery, which we did at the temple. The potter and his family brought all of the clay to the temple where we were working and we had a go at this craft. Everything was really well thought out and designed to involve as many of the community, and provide as much work for the locals – who clearly have very little - as possible. This is something I’ll never forget. I still keep in touch with GAFV and follow them on FB, and I am amazed at the personal touch and time they put into working with us, and tailoring programmes for people. I promise you, you won’t get a better volunteering experience, or a better managed programme than with these guys.