Monthly Archives: February 2014

Holiday Job

Posted on by Jackie

BBC journalist Lucy Grey very kindly gave up some of her recent holiday in Sri Lanka to teach English at Uda Mattala and Bundula Schools.  This is her blog.

The children stare up at me with eyes full of excited anticipation as I enter.

Then to the tune of Happy Birthday they sing:

Good morning to you. Good morning to you. Good morning Dear Teacher……

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And I realise the teacher they are referring to is me!

Well if they believe it, so will I.

I have to say that as the youngest child in my family with no younger relatives, my dealings with anyone younger than me up until now has been restricted to the kids who ran the video shops – before they all went bust.

Oh I tried babysitting once, but lost the child in the park for hours.

I’ve pretty much avoided children ever since.

So a room full of 20 or so eight-years olds focused entirely on me is pretty daunting.

Their regular English teacher tells me that they have just started learning to tell the time – so I begin with that, and then animal vocabulary tests as I show them pictures of the safari I did the day before and then to testing body parts vocabulary with a game of Simon Says, before we head outside to ask Mr Wolf what time it is.

Then it strikes me that I am really enjoying this…. But my overwhelming feeling is a desire to live up to the expectation I see on their faces.


They hang on my every word I say and thrust their hands in the air to every question posed.

Of course I realise most of their fascination is not down to my teaching, rather the fact that they do not get to see people who look like me very often – I am double their size, with a frizzy  blonde mop and skin the colour of their pristine white uniforms.

At break time I am sitting in the new computer room – provided by the Schools Relief Initiative – five boys run in and I can see they cannot quite decide what is more exciting – the new computers, or the unusual looking foreign woman sitting next to them.

They decide both are too much to keep to themselves and dart off to tell the others to come and look.

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After break SRI’s Project Manager, Mr Jayasinghe, gives a talk to the school about: elephants and the threats to their survival; how to resolve the human-elephant conflict and the work being done to prevent the deaths of these extraordinary creatures.

The hope is that the children will go home and tell their parents what they have learnt.

Despite the 35-degree heat and the fact that I have exhausted most of them with I Spy and renditions of London Bridge Is Falling Down for the past half hour, the children listen so intently.

And that is what I will take away from this. All these kids with a huge desire to learn and see new things.

Whether it’s a sticker of a Beefeater from London that enthrals, or just a new word from the enormous English woman, their enthusiasm is uplifting.

As I am about to leave, the English teacher thanks me and asks for my address. I jot down my email and give it to her, but she hands it back and says, “No your home, I do not have email”.

I suppose its not just the kids who might benefit from the new computers and the opportunities they offer to connect to the world, although I expect it will be the eight year-olds who will end up showing her how to use them.

Ithuni’s Glasses

Posted on by Mr Jayasinghe

Ithuni is a grade six student at KG01 school and it was her teacher who first realised she had a problem with her sight.

Ithuni's glassesShe sent a message home to her mother and the family took her to Hambantota Hospital where they gave her some eye drops and tested her eyes.

They told her she needed glasses.

But how could the family afford it?

Her father is a labourer and her mother does not have a job.

They live in a small house with a quarter of an acre of land, from which they cultivate their food.

Fortunately, Miss Jackie and Mr Jonathan were visiting Sri Lanka and making a visit to the school.

The Principal introduced them Ithuni and her mother asked if SRI could pay for her glasses as she is clever student who got 136 marks in her grade five exam.

SRI was happy to help.