I have wanted to volunteer since I was 14 years old. In my 20s I applied to the Peace Corp (I am American) and by the time I was accepted, many months later, i had planned a big trip of many months to Europe. I never did volunteer. Life happens, career, home etc. Finally I realized I was healthy, still wanting to volunteer, willing to give up all my work and go. My blog is called "When I'm Sixty Four" if that tells you anything! The actual name is: whenimsixtfour.blogspot.com..(it was a typing error) Anyway, I figured if I was going to give up all my work which included a private psychotherapy practice, teaching psychiatric nursing students and some consulting with Visiting Nurse Service around patients with emotional as well as physical problems, I needed to get a placement for at least 2 years.
Originally Ceylon, Sri Lanka is an island just south of India. It was occupied by the Portugese, and then the Dutch; it became a crown colony of Britain in 1802, and declared independence in 1948, changing its name from Ceylon to Sri Lanka in 1972. It is known as the ‘Teardrop of India’ not only because it looks like a tear drop falling off India, but also because there were tensions between the Sinhalese, who first populated the island country of Sri Lanka, and Tamil separatists, which erupted in a civil war in 1983 and led to the social and government discord which exists to this day. Further to the tens of thousands of deaths which this conflict led to, the country was devastated with a tsunami, triggered by a powerful earthquake, on December 26, 2004. Though there has been much strife in this country, Sri Lanka is recovering its infrastructure, peace and even strengthening its tourist trade. There is a prevalence of political conflict and violence, and a general threat of terrorism, in Sri Lanka. All travel to the north (not including Anuradhapura or the spit of land to Kalpitiya west of Puttalam) and to most parts of eastern Sri Lanka is not advised, ie. Do not go to the districts of Ampara and Trincomalee rural areas, or Trincomalee Town. Attacks have affected a broad spectrum of targets, such as government buildings, military sites and public gatherings, and though visitors have not been targeted, there have been attacks in places were foreigners go. Remember to carry formal photo identification with you at all times and ask the authorities to contact the British High Commission if you were to be detained. Be vigilant, and, also, be aware that there have been reports of muggings and sexual offences, and take care of possessions, especially protecting your credit card ie. from fraud. The capital city is Colombo, a chaotic place with hectic traffic that some may prefer to only visit on the way to one of Sri Lanka’s beautiful beaches, and though perhaps only for those with brave hearts, it being also a high risk area for terrorism, (ie. There was an LTTE air raid on military targets in Colombo on 20 February 2009, which ended with four deaths and with twelve people injured) there are assets to this city, with the Pettah bazaar, temples and the national museum, as well as the Galle seafront. If you look at what Sri Lanka has to offer – apart from a look into a country of conflict – then you will see a myriad of wonders: you can try sweet mango juice, or just sample some of the fresh fruit that there is available – or even some fresh fish straight from a boat. There are all sorts of foods to try, like the curries full of spices, for which Sri Lanka is still one of the leading exporters of – spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, cloves and cardamom and mace.The country not only has rich produce to eat, but it has a rich cultural heritage that stems from its variety of religions and ethnicities. There is also a rich variety of exotic wildlife animal species and rainforests, and the Sinharaja Forest Reserve in the south-west is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, boasting rare trees, birds, reptiles and mammals and butterflies that are specific to the area – as well as rare amphibians.