Hello, my name is Jonathan Pare and I have just spent two weeks as a volunteer at Tea Leaf Vision Trust in Maskeliya, Sri Lanka. It was an experience of a lifetime and one which I will never forget. I had a fantastic time, I was made to feel very welcome by the staff and the pupils and formed some new friendships.

As a volunteer, I observed the lessons to get tips on how best to teach, communicate and explain the English language. I was then given different classes in which to lead a class discussion, such as Fire safety (which I hope has come in handy!).

I experienced a completely different culture. The locals are extremely polite and courteous and their pace of life is slower than in the west. The local people and students are not afraid to say “hello” which I believe is very comforting as people from the west are not as friendly and pleasant.

There are some things that I would never ever do again ……. Such as Adams Peak! We set off from the school to Adams Peak at quarter to twelve in the evening and arrived at about quarter past twelve at the bottom of the mountain. Now, the reason for climbing this insane mountain so early is purely because of the sunrise which occurs at about half past 6 in the morning. We climbed in the rain, fog and cold for four hours, reaching the top at about 5 o clock hoping to see this beautiful sunrise. By the time we got to the top, it was apparently “full” and they would not open the gates until 6 o clock. So we stayed and waited in a very cold room for an hour! Eventually the gates were opened, and as we stepped out of this room ……. There was no sunrise!! The huge gather of fog ruined our view. But to me it wasn’t just a view, it was my prize for climbing this ridiculous mountain, and my prize was foiled by the layer of fog that intercepted me from my prize!

We finally got to the bottom of Adams Peak at quarter past nine in the morning. Even though this was probably the hardest thing I have ever done, it was an absolutely pleasure to be a part of and I would definitely recommend it to anyone.

I cannot put into words, how much I have enjoyed being with the Tea Leaf Trust but I am completely blown away by the work that they have done so far and what they will do in the future. I really can’t thank Tim Pare and Yasmene Shah enough for their hospitality and kindness which they showed me and I am forever grateful for it. I would also like to thank the staff and students once again for being so patient with me and making me feel welcome within your school. You’re all amazing and I would love to be with you soon.