The following post is from Kalli Bunch, a 2014 Global Gap Year Fellow.

As you can probably tell, working Wi-Fi is hard to come by in Sri Lanka, so I decided to save almost all posts on my volunteer work until the end of my stay here so that I could put them all together. Temple Renovations: I started my volunteer work on the temple renovations project. I worked on temples for about 4 weeks, completing 3 temples in total. Our renovations were mainly painting both the interior and exterior walls, but sometimes we did flooring or a bit of gardening as well. The #TempleTeam (yes, the hashtag is necessary) and I had a great time painting walls three different shades of green (oops) and getting to hang out with the monks. While renovating, we also got to learn a bit about Buddhism, which was really interesting.

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#TempleTeam Shenanigans

Disabled Orphanage: I spent about 4 weeks in total working at Daya Nivasa Home for the Abandoned and Differently Abled Children and Elderly . It was hands down my favorite orphanage in Sri Lanka. The kids there were so much fun and I promise, if it were possible, I’d probably adopt them all. At the orphanage, I’d help out with the morning classes and feedings and I’d come back in the afternoon to take care of the kids. I formed such a strong connection the kids and women there and saying goodbye my last week was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do here. I could tell that the work we did at the orphanage was actually appreciated, which was one thing I was concerned about when I started volunteering. But literally all they ask for at Daya Nivasa is to show the residents that someone cares about them and that they’re loved, and it doesn’t take long at all for those feelings to become genuine.

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Photos from Daya Nivasa

Boys Orphanage: I only worked at the boys orphanage for one week, but I had a really great time there. Everyone who knows me knows that I’m totally a tomboy, so getting to work with just boys for a week was like heaven. The age range was from 6 to 17, and there were about 15 boys in total. I’d go to the orphanage during the afternoons and either teach them English or play games with them outside. I was there for Christmas, so I got to help them set up their Christmas tree and celebrate for the holidays. (Pictures aren’t allowed at the boys orphanage)

Elders Homes: While in Sri Lanka, I’ve volunteered with three different elders homes. The first elders home was a pretty bad experience (let’s just say it involved no actual elders and a lot of leeches), but the second two were great. I loved getting to spend one-on-one time with the residents and learning about their past and their families. A lot of the residents didn’t speak English, so we usually ended up just showing each other pictures, playing games, or having them try to teach me Sinhala.

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My Sinhala Lesson

My volunteer work in Sri Lanka was definitely satisfying. I’m so glad that Green Lion gave us the opportunity to work on multiple projects throughout our stay so that I could try a lot of them out. I’m going to miss this place and the people I’ve worked with so much.