June 2012 Volunteer activities!
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Building a Hut- Elizabeth

Building the hut has been a long process. Starting from the ground being overgrown with weeds and trees, and now to the point where there is a discernible structure with a roof and one partial wall. The most interesting thing to me, personally, has been working with the Sri Lankan builder. Occasionally everyone else will be focusing on a different task, and I will be alone on the hut with him. He speaks probably 5 words of English, and my few words of Sinhala mostly revolve around shopping and telling someone that I’m hungry. The combination leaves us mostly speechless when we work. It’s very interesting to realize just how unnecessary words are even for such a complex process as building something together. When the gardener, who functions as a translator as well as an extra pair of hands, is not present, we somehow make do with no verbal communication. He will point to the tool he needs, or, if I’m really on top of things I can identify which tool he probably needs next and have it ready for him. In silence we saw bamboo, mix cement, cut down small trees for the roof, hammer those small trees to the structure. Sometimes I wonder if he is silently laughing at me, a small girl trying to use a saw and a hammer, but whenever the gardener returns, positive things about my work are translated back to me.

Millennium Elephant Foundation Eco Farm Hut

 

We are the manly mustached men woman that painted the house and more….

Millennium Elephant Foundation Volunteers paint

Chris and I (Fiona) are attempting to make an enrichment toy cube for the elephants to play with. The goal is to be able to stuff it with fruit.

Jesper and myself (Hayden) decided to begin building a wishing well to contribute towards fundraising for the elephants. in this picture you can see Jesper beginning to dig the well until we reach our first obstacle… Stone!

After a couple of days of digging, we ended up with a hole around 140cm deep and 80cm across, we used the digging pole to break through many layers of clay, stone and even coal. We still had a lot of work to do though.

Me and Jesper had found a oil barrel outside the mahout’s hut which we asked to use and this would be the main foundation of the well. We then filled in the gaps with dirt and started to think of ideas to make the well look awesome.

We had decided that there needed to be steps leading up to the fruit shop next to our well so more people will pass it and be tempted to use it. We used a foundation of rocks and stones and placed the cement on top and smoothed it out.

The steps are useful so volunteers can walk down safely to the elephants during vet check and even the tourists, mahouts or anyone who visits MEF can use the steps while bypassing our well at the top of them.

We cemented bamboo into the ground and have begun building the wall around the barrel. It is starting to look good. We intend to put a sign above the well and put a bucket into it.

Millennium Elephant Foundation wishing well built by Volunteers

We arrived at the MEF on Monday and after seeing the amazing work taking place, we wanted to start our own project as soon as possible. We saw the bare walls of the fruit shop and right away wanted to make it brighter and more noticeable using the paint left over from other projects.  Many tourists would walk past without realising its purpose so we made a new clearer sign in the hope of increasing sales and money raised for the foundation. Lucy and Sara

Millennium Elephant Foundation Fruit Shop decorated by Volunteers

There were 16 children at the after school club today! We took some coloring in books which they used but found it much more interesting when Hayden started making the pages in little boxes for them to take home. It was so nice seeing new kids turning up and we all definitely are looking forward to going back! Will & Ilse

 

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