In 2004, thirty thousands lives were claimed by the Boxing Day tsunami. The devastation of this natural disaster left approximately 1,500,000 people displaced from their homes, infectious diseases rapidly spread across the island and hundreds of square kilometres of paddy land were destroyed.
The mission of Extra Cover is to help some of Sri Lanka's most disadvantaged school children grow up with hope for the future. The charity provides some fundamental essentials such as food and clean drinking water as well as uniform, footwear and educational resources (to name just a few) to 14 of the most deprived schools in the south of the island. The hands on co-founders of the charity, Matthew Hansford and Robert Easton, are "committed to ensuring all pupils have a regular supply of clean, fresh water while they are at school".
There will no doubt be a variety of skills amongst your group, so why not utilise those strengths where you can make a difference. Whether it's climbing up a ladder doing some painting or repair work, building classrooms or playgrounds or assisting with some agricultural work on the tea plantations, your hard work will be hugely appreciated and will aid in the development of children's education in Sri Lanka.
Visiting Sri Lanka is a truly rewarding and humbling experience and involves not only groups being at one with a different culture, but appreciating what life is like for those affected by the tsunami. As a group, you will benefit hugely from the team building exercises involved and Sri Lanka could be the perfect chance to take part in a ten day expedition for The Explorer Belt.
Highlights of Sri Lanka
Whilst making a difference once you are working with ‘Extra Cover’ in the south west of Sri Lanka, make the most of your visit and schedule some time to explore the rest of the island.
- Absorb the hustle and bustle of Colombo (the capital city of Sri Lanka) – visit one of the markets or bazaars to shop for bargains.
- Watch the elephants bathe in the river near Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage.
- Take a trip to the Dambulla Caves and the Golden Rock Temple. Your group can explore the painted and highly decorated caves which are considered the best in the country and are a World Heritage site.
- Climb Sigiriya Rock, a 5th century fortress and another World Heritage site, which stands 200 metres above the jungle.
- Travel by train through the beautiful mountain scenery and through the heart of the tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya.
- Visit a working tea plantation and factory, all finished off with a ‘brew’ of your choice.
- Take a Jeep Safari across one of the many National Parks – here you will see an abundance of elephants in the wild, along with other wildlife. You might even see the odd leopard if you’re lucky!
- Come close to nature at the Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery or visit Hikkaduwa, where you can swim with the resident turtles in the lagoon.
- Visit the beautiful south west coastline for some R&R at one of the many beach resorts.
Co-founder of Extra Cover, Father Robert Easton says:
“We have found that with a little wisdom and lot of sweat, even the smallest of donations can go a very long way. I have visited this little corner of paradise some 30 times and I never tire of the smiles of children as we bring a little relief into their lives – be it a new seesaw in the school playground, a new pair of shoes or a decent meal every day. Sri Lankans are the kindest and most compassionate people – we are welcomed wherever we go, seen and appreciated for what we are, and are shown extraordinary generosity by those who have so little. The rewards of “doing charity” in the south west of Sri Lanka we get are boundless. Every time I fly back to London from Colombo I am already planning my next trip, my next visit to a place where my work makes me feel truly alive.”