My Time Volunteering with ECO-V
I spent ten weeks assisting ECO-V with a number of their activities in the first half of 2009.
It was a magical time – offering me the opportunity to assist with worthwhile conservation
work and also experience the real Sri Lanka.
Until 2008 I worked for the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust in
Jersey, UK, where Kanchana trained in 1999, so we have many mutual friends!
My background is working to engage audiences in wildlife and conservation issues,
so I was able to bring my experience of various techniques of communication and training to the
organization in practical and theoretical ways.
I worked with Kanchana to devise a number of hands-on activities to add to the
program for the first KSMA Mihimadale Hithathiyo (Friends of Mother Earth)
training program for rural young people.I also contributed to the sessions
directly by making a presentation and running some icebreaker activities.
I visited the field station at Udawalawa and was shown the many aspects of the team's work there –
this enabled me to compile an up-to-date report for ECO-V. It was whilst based at the field station that I had the
opportunity to go on safari – a wonderful experience!
I used my knowledge of producing publications to develop the design and content of the ECO-V website.
It was a good learning experience for me to adapt techniques from printed to virtual media.
Throughout my stay, I wrote posts for the ECO-V blog,
giving my own take on the activities that I witnessed.
In addition to the work I undertook with ECO-V, I gave lectures and ran workshops for different groups,
including zoo staff and students of the University of Colombo.
Much of this assistance was office-based, but with such attractive surroundings,
and the prospect of more travel never far away, it was an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
Sri Lanka is truly a fascinating and welcoming country. In two and a half months I was able to see much of the island, from ancient cities to national parks,
from the bustle of Colombo to the idyllic peace of the beach.
In particular, I felt lucky to be welcomed so fully by Kanchana and her family. Through this, I felt that I was able to experience a true slice of Sri Lanka – the culture,
the warmth of the people and the delicious (and hot!) food.