The School Project In Bundala, Sri Lanka
Located off the southern coast of India, Sri Lanka is an island nation, with an abundance of wildlife. Bundala, is a small village located on the south-eastern coast of the island. Bordering the village is Bundala National Park - a home for almost 200 migratory and resident birds. Along with the birds are a few Asian elephants, monkeys, jackal, fishing cats, mongoose, spotted deer, sambur, wild boar, crocodiles, pangolins, and hare.
When we heard that there were frequent conflicts between elephants in the area, and the residents, we knew right away that this would be our project which we needed to start in 2018.
Bundala Kanishta Vidyalaya has only 52 students and is located on the border of Bundala National Park. The school has only three small buildings and an uncleared area that is used as a small playground.
We visited the school in the morning and educated the students regarding elephants. We realized that there was a negative attitude towards wild elephants as they were constantly raiding the family's crops. There was also the fear of getting attacked by elephants. The books that were handed to the students were specially prepared for them and consisted of both educational material and fun activities.
As nearly all of the students had not been inside Bundala National Park even though they lived on its border, we had arranged to take the students on a morning safari. We had originally planned to have the safari jeeps pick up the students at 6:00 am, but departure had to be delayed as the children could not walk to school in the darkness due to fear of elephant attacks. Even after dawn had broken we heard loud explosions to chase elephants away, in the village.
While on safari, the children received education on the mammals and birds that were observed, and there was excitement among them all on their first visit inside the park. The jeep drivers decided that they would like to give the kids an additional bonus of a trip to the beach, which of course, the children enjoyed.
The school gate was damaged by an elephant that wanted to get in.
Ms. Iresha Perera speaking to students inside one building that houses three classrooms.