Experiences of my Sri Lankan odyssey 

Raghda Medhat
6 Min Read

Why would you travel so far to an unknown land? How will it help to build your career? Could not you find a volunteering project in Egypt? These are the questions that I heard before traveling and I thought my volunteering abroad was brown into pieces, but I was determined to take the risk, and I volunteered in Sri Lanka for 45 days and it was one of the best experiences I have ever had.

A fresh graduate from the University then, I did not know what to do in my life, asking myself too many questions about my passion and what will be my next step. This made me so stressed which prevented me to take any further step in my life. I heard about the volunteering programmes abroad and how it can help me as a person to get over my stress and clear my head, so I decided to volunteer in Sri Lanka. It is an island nation besides India that is not a famous destination for the Egyptians and most people do not know where it exists. I was in charge of conducting English language sessions for the orphans, and vulnerable mates at the SOS village in a city named Galle. At the beginning, communication was difficult as the kids at large failed to maintain decorum in the classroom. They started to scream and shout, they wanted to get out of the class, but I never thought that I will get attached to them so quickly. In spite of all the running around which I had to do, I found common grounds of attachment. The language was no longer a barrier. And our hearts clicked together. Mutual trust premised upon friendly environment allowed me to substitute English language sessions for fun activities to bond further. It was not about teaching them English, it was about making them believe in themselves and they can do anything if they insist on it. In my last day in the SOS village, one of the girls in my class approached to me and gave me her bracelet and said, “Please do not take it off, I want you to remember me”. These words capture my heart immediately and made me forget everything about my life, stress, and problems that was bothering me back in my home.

Experiences of my Sri Lankan odyssey would be incomplete without a worthy mention of my colleagues who belonged to eight different nationalities. It made me feel that I have travelled the world in these 45 days, we talked about our traditions, culture, and ambitions. This made me realise that the world is really small, and you can find someone who can understand you perfectly from different background and religion. Talking about religion, sports, and politics for hours give you the chance to know their way of living which was better than watching many movies about it. However, they widely held notorious cliché about Egypt. They believed Egypt to be a dangerous place to visit. A country full of poverty, illiteracy, and instability. (They only revered Mo Salah which was not a surprise to me). At the end of one of these discussions, one of them told me that he never thought that he will find many people that are well-educated from a country that exists in Africa and, he added that “we should not believe the news because it is really deceiving!” The perception they had about Egypt had seen a massive plunge and I could succeed in substituting truth for deception, and Information for misinformation.

On a whole, to make the long story short. Be it for the society or for yourself. We all have our problems. But they appear minnows once we learn to appreciate them. I realised that the life that I enjoy is a dream to many outsiders. Challenges, and therefore, the opportunities that it brings helps one to adapt to the outstanding situation. When one travels abroad, it opens a new horizon, a new avenue. Personally, I am more than convinced that the 45 days in Sri Lanka were more fulfilling and rewarding than anything else. I firmly voice in favour of taking up volunteering projects abroad.

Wondering why you had not had the experience yet? No worries, this is just the perfect time. Go ahead and shoot!

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