Conflict to Coexistence - (C2C)
In the small village of Weragala, most of the villagers make their income from the land. Weragala is situated between four National Parks and is surrounded entirely by jungle. This means that the village is right in the middle of an ‘elephant corridor’, thus making Weragala a hotspot for conflicts. Wild elephants pass through this village between the reserves in search of food and water. Farmers’ land is either trampled or eaten by elephants, destroying a year’s worth of hard work, a home, or even livelihood in a few short minutes. Every year in Sri Lanka, human and elephant lives are lost due to human-elephant conflict. Millennium Elephant Foundation’s Conflict to Coexistence program aims to reduce human-elephant conflicts by working with the community of Weragala to promote peaceful coexistence and conservation of wild elephants while maintaining the farmers’ crop security.9 reasons you should go to C2C:
It’s a cultural experience unlike anything most tourists or volunteers will ever have!
- Give back to the local community by working alongside farmers in the field.
- Gain a better understanding of the importance of protecting Sri Lanka’s wild elephants.
- Spend time with the amazing and welcoming people of Weragala.
- Teach and play with really cute kids.
- Sleep in a tree house under the stars.
- Watch beautiful sunsets.
- Eat bush meat, super fluffy bread, fresh fish, milk rice, and other great foods.
- Ride around in the C2C truck.
- And best of all…. you won’t have to clean up any elephant poo!!
Every trip to Weragala is different. During your time there, you will most likely help out local farmers by planting onions or other crops. You’ll also get to spend time at a local school teaching some basic English. Other activities in Weragala include watching a farmer harvest honey, watching farmers fish, visiting a local temple, playing with children after school, repairing any damage caused by elephants, and of course, sleeping in a tree house!
Plant onions alongside local women farmers (and try not to get laughed at).
Help teach 4-5 year old students basic English… these are the future farmers of Weragala. We also interact and play with the local children and help bond with the community.
For 100 rupees, you can take home your very own bottle of Weragala honey!
Farmers sleep in tree houses above their fields to watch out for elephants. You’ll spend one night in the tree house. The tree house sleeps about 4 volunteers comfortably, and there is a secondary tree house that can hold up to 3 volunteers. You’ll eat dinner under the stars with farmers. Though the climb up is a bit frightening, the tree house is safe and stable!
You’ll stay with other volunteers at an MEF bungalow with beds and mosquito nets in Weragala. There is a western toilet and outdoor shower. One night will be spent in the tree house.
All meals prepared by a local family. These customary Sri Lankan dishes are spicier than MEF food, but there is enough variety that even those volunteers who don’t like spice will be fine. The food is tasty, but stock up on snacks at Food City on your way to Habarana so you don’t go crazy with the large amount of rice you’ll be eating.
Pick up a 5L bottle (or two) at Food City so you can avoid drinking the water in Weragala. Bring a smaller bottle you can keep with you at all times. STAY HYDRATED! It is hotter in Weragala than at MEF.
Technology & Power:
There is NO INTERNET at C2C. (You can handle it, I promise!!) You will have power for about 2 hours a day from a generator so keep phones on airplane mode or off to save battery. Bring a Sri Lankan power adaptor. Pack a torch for when it’s dark!
You will need your knees and shoulders covered when not in the MEF bungalow. Pack shorts or other lightweight clothes to wear around the bungalow during the day when you are resting and it is hot. Sometimes the tree house is windy so you might want to pack a jumper. Don’t forget your bathing suit for the outdoor shower!
During the dry summer months, there are not many elephants in the area so elephant sightings are not always likely. The elephant population is high during the rainy season when there is lots of water for the elephants.
- Sheets, pillow, towel
- Clothes to cover shoulders and knees
- Bathing suit (for the outdoor shower)
- Lounging clothes for the bungalow
- Jumper (in case the tree house is chilly)
- Sun cream
- Snacks / 5L bottle of water (you’ll stop at Food City on the way)
- Smaller bottle of water to carry around
- Book or other entertainment for down time
The experience at C2C is much different from that at MEF. Stay hydrated and safe from the sun by drinking lots of water, always wearing sun cream, and resting during the middle of the day when the temperatures are the hottest. The people are welcoming and friendly so always smile and say hello. Don’t be afraid of the tree house, it’s really not scary! You will never forget your time at C2C… it might just be the highlight of your cultural experience here at MEF!!