Ever wondered what it's like to volunteer with turtles? Read Sandra's lovely account of her time spent in Sri Lanka while working towards conservation of these awesome animals.
What was it like the moment you first arrived on the project?
I was met at the airport by the lovely VJ, and it was a very enjoyable drive to the project. VJ took the time to point things out on the journey and nothing was too much trouble.
When I arrived at the project around 9am, I was met by Dudley (Project Manager) and made to feel very welcome straight away, followed by a lovely and very welcome breakfast. The Mango jam was amazing! I then met some of the other volunteers who were just about to have breakfast too, and one of them took me straight over to meet the turtles. It was lovely to see them all, various ages and types, and I was then informed that I would be able to take part in a baby turtle release that first evening. I was informed of all of the older turtles' names, and after a few days I had remembered all of them! The whole experience of watching the babies make their way into the sea was very emotional and overwhelming. I was also very lucky that evening when Dudley and his wife took some of us volunteers to the Buddhist Full Moon Festival where we were able to take part and made to feel extremely welcome. An amazing first day!
How was the experience of working with the school children?
It was lovely to work with the school children during the afternoons, albeit they do get a little excited! I was impressed by how much English they already knew. They were always polite and even hand picked some flowers for us when we left.
What tips do you have for future volunteers?
I am certain future volunteers will love this trip as much as I did. Take some old clothes as, when we cleaned the tanks (twice a week), we did get very messy and wet. Embrace every moment - the turtles, the surroundings, the culture, as it all went far too quick.
What was the best moment of your trip?
I had two breath-taking moments. One was releasing the turtles into the sea, and the other was being fortunate enough to witness a turtle come up onto the beach to lay her eggs. This is a sight that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Why should other people volunteer at the project?
Other people should volunteer as I certainly found it a life changing experience in so many ways. The project is a good cause, and we were trying to constantly educate the visiting school children of the dangers these turtles meet, especially from humans (such as plastic bags in the ocean.) The accommodation is basic but clean and perfectly adequate, and the home cooked food was first class. Right from the word go I was made to feel very welcome and part of the team. This project is suitable for all ages and all fitness levels.
This was my first time ever abroad on my own and my first time taking part in a volunteer project. I am so grateful that I chose The Great Projects, who put my mind at rest with my endless questions before I left, and also that I chose The Great Turtle Project. I could never tire of working on a beach with the view of the ocean and surrounded by palm trees. An amazing location! I would like to thank all of the team at The Great Projects for their help in making this a memory which will last a lifetime.
Also: I have a small cuddly turtle given to me by my children years ago, and they set me a challenge to have his photo taken with a real turtle! Challenge completed.
If you loved Sandra's account of volunteering with turtles, why not consider finding your place on the project too? Head to The Great Turtle Project page now!
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