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GAP YEAR | VOLUNTEER ABROAD | WORK EXPERIENCE OVERSEAS

 

Volunteers' Stories

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JANET DUCHESNE
British

The Elephant Experience Voluntary Project at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in Sri Lanka
         

This is the perfect introduction to volunteering as it can be done for as little as one or two weeks or as much as wanted.

Not only was it a good experience living with local Sri Lanka people and getting involved in their culture (and cooking!), everyone was extremely friendly and we felt we really bonded as much with our poo boys (the lads who helped us in the morning cleaning up the elephant dung) as with the mahouts who went out of their way to give us lots of memories with the elephants.

The best part of the whole trip was going out with the vet- so much so that I would recommend all volunteers should go with him at least once! He is very informative.

Twice Steve and I accompanied him on his rounds. It was very interesting. One enormous elephant had an abscess on his ear which needed to be cleaned out and disinfected every day. When his mahout told him to lay down on his side so the vet could reach he kept laying down on the wrong side - the mahout said it was doing it on purpose as it knew when it laid on the right side there would be pain!

Another elephant has broken its leg. Pinawala is a pioneer in medical treatment of elephants (not a lot of people know that!). So instead of putting down a 5 ton elephant it is hoisted into a cradle for about three months and then put into a cage with a tree trunk under its stomach to stop it laying down. It could never get up if it did go down as it couldn’t take the weight on the bad leg. From experience they now know it takes about 6 months before the elephant can join the others in the river again.

I feel that in such a short time we were privileged to learn so much from so many people (both volunteers and staff) - all there to do their best to look after these amazing creatures.

Really pleased we did this! 

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PINAWALA ELEPHANT EXPERIENCE Project
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kegalle
Kegalle

Mother and Child, so adorable!