Rosie Screen – Forest Traveller Volunteering in India and Sri Lanka

Rosie Screen shares the experiences of her journey to volunteer in India and Sri Lanka, supported by a grant from Coleford Town Council

I arrived in Sri Lanka (Kegalle) late evening on the 27th March, I had come down with a fever a few days before in India so I was in a bad way, feeling absolutely home sick with no mum to mother me and nurse me back to health. I would spend the next 3 weeks volunteering with 2 baby elephants at The Elephant Freedom Project. The family whose house I stayed out ((Ananda, Malie & Shashini, who run the project and have the elephants stay on their ground) took very good care of me and I was back to normal health within a few days, not a great first impression of myself I must say, but they understood. It’s hard to explain but within a few days of being with the family I felt very settled, they treated me like a daughter and the house was so lovely I felt at home straight away. Sri Lanka reminded me of the views in the Forest of Dean apart from the trees and plants were all tropical and the weather was 35 degrees with extreme humidity!

For the first time in 4 weeks I was the only volunteer at the project and for the first time in a very long time I finally realised I was happy in my own company. This is something that I have struggled with for a long time, don’t get me wrong I love being around other people but I had realised it was time to stop relying on my sister, I needed to grow up, gain my own independence and travelling helped me to do exactly this! I found out about TEFP on trip advisor when I researched volunteering with elephants. I wanted to continue volunteering to help the welfare of endangered animals having done so before in Borneo with Orangutans. I was lucky to come across TEFP online as it has only been running for under 2 years now….

Why volunteering?”

I have volunteered in the past and will always like to help in any way possible those who happen to be less fortunate than myself! Volunteering abroad has a far greater and more positive impact than merely traveling to another country. Volunteers come in direct contact with the locals and share knowledge and experience between each other which has a positive impact on both local community and volunteer. For some volunteers it provides an opportunity to develop new skills or build on existing experience and knowledge. There are so many reasons why you should volunteer!

I can understand that some people are against volunteers volunteering abroad, in my case I was only able to volunteer for 2 months due to costs and funding, people say short-term volunteer projects can do more harm than good. Yes I can agree with some points people say, for example, you show up in a child’s life for a few hours or a few days, then you vanish back home and they never see you again, leaving the child in the same state, and this can be unfair. However, I can also disagree with that point, having looked back on my experience I can remember a teacher in India doubting a young child who I was helping saying that the child wasn’t capable of writing these few letters. I proved her wrong, through persistence and patience with that child he was able to write those few letters by the end of the lesson. Seeing that child’s face gleaming and smiling with self achievement, I can only say I will forever remember that moment. It’s sad to say that some teachers are lacking knowledge and teaching skills in India as I have witnessed myself, which is where volunteers like myself who maybe have these skills can help to assist those teacher in improving their own.

Everyone should have their own opinion and be able to voice it. No matter what it is. Of course, that does not mean your opinion is always right. But, you’re certainly entitled to your opinion.

you can see all the pictures and her  full recollections on her own site..see below.

See the full story on Rosie’s website….

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