Volunteer experiences

Here you will find some first-hand accounts from volunteers who have participated in the project in the past. Many thanks to those volunteers who have contributed to this website (as well as to the project of course). Any former or current volunteers who wish to get in touch with the website and maybe add your experiences, please do!

We hope you find the accounts informative and/or amusing...

"I am half way through my five week stay working with the turtles and Dudley and his family. I have already had some of the best days of my life. Everyday I meet people from different cultures and show them round the turtles. When I’m not giving tours I can be found feeding the turtles, burying the eggs or knee deep in water with the other volunteers scrubbing the tanks.Rachael

Explaining the stories for each turtle is amazing, like Stevie who survived the tsunami but now only has one eye. Every other day I spend time hand feeding him, although this results in me being VERY wet and smelling of fish for the entire day, its such a great experience to get that close to such a rare and beautiful creature. Although, I think my favorite moment so far happened this morning, when two little baby turtles appeared from in the sand. I am awaiting the arrival of the others with baited breath so we can release them into the sea.

Altogether I am thoroughly enjoying my time here seeing the most amazing things and sharing it with some amazing people."

Rachael

Christine"Everyday was the best but the most fond memory was the day we were planting trees on the beach and it was overcast. We didn't expect the rain to come down so hard but it did and we were all scrambling for the trees thinking we could get some cover - NOT! For 10 VERY LONG minutes we were getting soaked inside the "makeshift" shelter of ranna and palm trees. Hilarious!! Wish I or someone had a camera that day!"

Christine,


"Everyone goes to bed full of enthusiasm about getting up in the middle of the night if a turtle is spotted nesting.  However, when Dudley bangs on your door at 2am, blasting on his whistle to get you out of bed, enthusiasm is at an all time low! Will I get out of my comfortable bed to traipse down to the beach to witness an amazing feat of nature, not something I could ever see at home or will I just turn over and catch some more zzzzzz's? Decisions, decisions, decisions!

Deirdre

Eventually as everyone else was pulling on their jackets and checking their cameras I decided that really I should get up and feign some interest so I hauled myself out of bed, threw some clothes on over my pyjamas, grabbed my torch, shoved on my flip-flops and joined the other half-awake volunteers for the walk down to the nesting turtle. And boy was I glad!

It was fascinating to see a turtle measuring about 4 feet across, digging a hole in the sand so she could start to lay approximately 120 eggs. We looked on as she released egg after egg, unperturbed by the straggle of people watching over her. Once finished, she used her flippers to cover up the eggs with sand as she slowly and cumbersomely dug her way out of the nesting hole. We didn't wait to see her finish as it takes about an hour before before she can start her plod back down to the sea. I suppose she has given birth 120 times! Back to bed for us volunteers to dream about turtles and breakfast - what a night!"

Deidre, Ireland


Polly

"All I can say about my time in Sri Lanka is that it is an experience I will never forget. In the two weeks I was there I learnt so much. For someone who had not really travelled far before, getting there was nerve-racking, but after meeting up with everybody you soon realise that they are all in the same boat as you and before you know it you forget that you're miles from home and the excitement takes over! Of course my time in Sri Lanka would not have been the same if not for Dudley and his family. They welcomed us into their home and did so much for us, they are wonderful people.

It's so hard to pick a favourite memory. Being unable to say it all (which would be true!) I would say the people - volunteers and locals. Without them, my two weeks wouldn't have been the same. Falling asleep under the stars whilst waiting for turtles on the beach comes a close second!"

Polly, England

Patricia"I miss Sri Lanka so much - it was almost culture shock to come back, step into the airport, onto the train and hear so much grumbling of the people around me as they talked to one another. I longed for the simple life again and the carefree atmosphere we had back in Sri Lanka. It was truly a rewarding experience."

Patricia, USA



"Too much to say, not enough space...! An incredibly rewarding experience crammed with unforgettable memories: snoozing on a warm starlit beach 'listening' for turtles, pineapples to die for, beach cricket with the locals, hitching lifts on a tractor full of plants, 'Simon says' with the kids, sweet ginger tea, bus and tuk-tuk rides, eating 'the Sri Lankan way', stacking bricks along a human chain of locals and volunteers and the most amazing walk 'to work' every day along the beach road. Stunning.Brian

However, without doubt, it will be the people I remember most - Dudley and his family for making us part of their family for a short while, a great bunch volunteers to share the experience with (and random dinner-table conversation) and the locals who were never short of a smile (or ginger tea thank goodness) and flattered us with their attention, appreciation and, not on a few occasions, their patience."

Brian, England

"2am one morning me and my room-mate got a rude awakening - another volunteer yelling and knocking impatiently on our door. A turtle had come ashore to lay her eggs and would we like to come out with Dudley and some others to see her? Even in our stupor we knew that this was a really rare opportunity - not to be missed. We rushed out in our pjs with torches and climbed half-asleep over huge boulders to the deserted beach under bright white moonlight.Elena

At one point the wash came over our heads and we had to doubleback to a safer route but we finally got to see our turtle and it was astonishing. They look prehistoric - she was about 45 years old and 1.5m nose to tail. Well worth the unsociable hours! We crawled back at 4.30am and, needless to say, were pretty useless at work the next day.  

The local couple, whose house we were helping to build, took pity on us and prepared us fresh coconut cut down from the tree before our eyes. They sliced the top off and we drank the milk then she took a machete to it and we ate the flesh - like nothing you've ever seen, done, had in England..."

Elena, England

"It's tough to sum up what the past few weeks have done for me... I have enjoyed them more than I could have ever expected but I also believe they have changed me quite a lot. I am certainly now a more confident, positive and happy individual. Everyone involved in the project has made me feel so welcome - Prasantha and Dudly have looked after me very well! Soma, your food is amazing, I will do my best to try and replicate it in the UK but it will never taste the same. Though you can be sure I will be eating with my fingers! Sureshmi you made me feel so welcome from my very first morning and I always enjoyed our talks and the games we played. Vijay, what can I say? Just a quality guy! And I now know how to tie a sarong without it falling down - thanks!

Fishing with Janta has to be my highlight, I can't explain why but it was just a very special morning and something I will never forget.

If I had one tip for any future volunteers it would be to immerse yourself within the local community in Sri Lanka - everyone is so friendly and happy"

Ben, England

"Can't believe four weeks have gone. Time flies when you're having an amazing time. It's all thanks to you all working here. This project is amazing and I can see that all of you have put down so much work and your hearts to it.

have enjoyed every single day here and every little thing has been an experience. I've also learnt a lot about the culture and people. This country is tremendous. When I can manage to, I will definitely come bank here to the project and explore more of Sri Lanka. I don't want the volunteering to end now. Seen so much over here and to take it all in has been a massive project. I see things from a whole different perspective now, a good one.

These four weeks have been, and believe me when I'm saying this, life changing for me. I'll definitely spread the word about this project to all people I meet in the future. Thank you for your lovely hospitality. I have never felt so safe. Prasantha is like a mother, understanding and always wants you to feel safe and well. Dudley you have all my respect for managing this project. You are spreading love and happiness."

Johanna, Sweden

"I want to start by saying a big thank you! These four weeks went by faster than I ever could have imagined. There is a good mix of physical and other work which makes the prject fun and varied. This was one of the best things in my life. Dudley and Prasantha welcomes me from the beginning with so much love and care. That is something I am going to remember for the rest of my life. Soma you cook the best food in the world. If I could I would bring you home with me. I will try to make the same food at home but it will not be the same! Vijay the man with the heart of gold. Always kind and humble. With the big smile on his face and the calmness you will always feel safe and protected. Not only is he the protective Sri Lankan father but also the best guide. This project has given me so much happiness and I will miss you all a lot! Thank you for making me a better person."

Pauline, Sweden