By Ciaran Brady in 2016 I arrived in Sri Lanka having just completed an engineering degree and was keen to utilize my engineering skills by supporting charity/NGO. I had arranged my own accommodation in the country and food for the 6 weeks I was there, so I was looking to give my time to help a good cause. After much searching I found many charities charged you thousands of dollars for you to give up your time and work for their cause. This was off putting and made me feel that my time was worthless. However, I was then recommended to work for Kanchana and ECO-V. I arrived uncertain about how I could help but was met with a very friendly and kind team. They showed me around their beautiful eco training garden and home office, where they explained what they did and what areas they required further support. I was immediately convinced that this was a good, well run charity with staff that really did care and had a strong passion for making a positive impact in their beautiful country, to encourage growth in a clean and sustainable way. They preached this message through a powerful catchphrase which I remember every time I look buy or want to throw away something. "Conscious consumerism." Two words, which sum up the role each one of us have every day, to look after our planet and everyone on it. After a tour around their eco garden it became clear that they required an emission free pump to efficiently lift the water from their shallow well to irrigate their crops. Their conventional bucket on a string method was very strenuous and time consuming, especially as one of the workers had chronic arm pain. After some research and discussion with Kanchana, I proposed a simple and cheap rope pump which uses only light manpower to efficiently lift a significant volume of water in a minute, without the use of any fuel or pollutants. Over the next 3 weeks I worked with Kanchana to adapt the design to use locally sourced waste as the building blocks for my pump, such as an old bike and other scrap metal. Through this time, I was supported by every member of the charity team, in addition to the gardener and a local welder. Furthermore, the lunch provided was outstanding - it was the best food I had in Sri Lanka and I ate out often while I was there. I didn’t always know what fruit or vegetables were in the plates served, but that was part of the fun and always a pleasant surprise. Two days before I was due to leave I completed the pump that I had promised and it worked better than I expected, this allowed a few days to explain how to maintain it when I was gone. The team could not have been more grateful and reassured me feel like I made a real impact to their lives and success of their charity have water so easily available, which is something which every volunteer looks for. Therefore, I highly recommend volunteering with ECO-V if you are interested in learning and sharing the message of conscious consumerism and want to make Sri Lanka an even better place.
By Diko Inastu A month with ECO-V Hai my name is Diko and I come from Indonesia. About a month ago I had a great opportunity to come to Sri Lanka through AIESEC, a youth exchange program. The project that was given to me was an environmental issue. At first I was a little afraid because I haven’t done any studying on environmental and don’t have any experience on it, but because I wanted to try something new I accepted it. So for the first time me and another volunteer from china, lorin was introduced to Eco friendly volunteers (ECO-V) a small environmental conservation center, we went to the office at the morning and met the president Kanchana Weerakoon and one of the local volunteer Tharindu Krishan. Ms. kanchana explained all about the NGO and the work that we will be doing, just by the way she talk you can instantly see how passionate she is about her work and the causes. After a long talk she took us to the kitchen and taught us on how to make a famers EM (effective microorganism) and wormy washy which is basically a drum full of soil, waste from the kitchen and lots of worms. So from day 1 it was really amazing we learn a lot and all me fears that I had earlier was all gone because Ms.Kanchana teach us everything from the basic, so that was nice. Near the office ECO-V has small home garden, it was small but a beautiful garden every morning of our working days we had to water the garden and do some small work in there. Even though it was beautiful and had a calming atmosphere it was still one of the works that I can’t wait to finish haha The ECO-V also has a bigger garden at Wariyapola it’s a 4 hour trip so we had to leave early in the morning. We finally arrived at the places around 9 am, we did a couple of work there like making vegetable beds, planting some plants and collecting salvinia, so the salvinia is in the lake their kind of hard to reach I even used stick to pull them on land but it was still hard, so I tried holding on to a branch and hanged from it. It worked I was able to pull back the salvinia to the land, but then the branch broke and I feel into the lake it was so embarrassing everyone was laughing and I was all wet, but It was all ok I started to laugh with them and after 1 hour my clothes was all dry because it was a hot day, it will be something that I will never forget. One time Miss Kanchana took us to Dilmah conservation center in Colombo, they had this beautiful garden it is for demonstration for urban garden it’s also a natural garden so it’s a free chemical garden in the other side of the property they also have a butterfly garden unfortunately there wasn’t many butterfly when we came. In my 3 weeks with the Eco friendly volunteer we had 2 main events, the first event was the EDEX expo 2015 at the BMICH. This event was really bid. They say one of the biggest education expo in Sri Lanka. It was a busy 3 days for ECO-V team, we started at 10am o’clock in the morning and finished at 6 pm and people would still come till the last minute. I couldn’t help that much because people wouldn’t want to talk in English, it was really funny when people would talk to me in Sinhalese but when I told them I couldn’t speak Sinhalese would ask for the other local volunteer to explain it to them and sometimes I would explain everything to a person and after I finish they would just shake their head say thank you and leave but after a couple of hours they would come back and ask the local volunteer a lot of questions, it was really funny but I felt bad for miss Kanchana and the other local volunteers because they would be really busy explaining and I would just stand and look at them. Crowded at all there wasn’t a lot of people only people from the TV station and reporter. The contents of the event itself was good they showed the foods that was sold in school cafeterias, and it was shocking how bad some food where. Media wise the event was pretty successful but in my point a view the event as a hole didn’t succeed to pull out the awareness from people. Overall this month with the Eco friendly volunteer has been an amazing experience the places went to the people we met was just priceless. It really brings me back to nature teaches me to more patient and I really learned allot from Miss Kanchana and the other local volunteer, Tharindu, Uwasara and Madushani. Thank you

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