A ConVersation About ConServation:
Pen-Pal Project...
The Rathamabalagama school | The Uda Walawe school


Photos by Nirmala Balsooriya and Hamish John Appleby

Our first school to participate is in Rathambalagama, a village on the northern outskirts of Uda Walawe National Park that is frequently paid visits by wild elephants. This school takes part in a program by the Born Free Foundation. The objective of the school Environmental Society is to raise kids' awareness on local conservation issues, to make them to think as community scientists, and also to encourage the skills like writing, paintings, debating and, in short, to help them be informed citizens of the world!

About 70 students attended this meeting. After reading over the letters from New Jersey, five excited volunteers have been chosen to reply and were gifted English storybooks in return. Their English teacher will help them write responses.

The ones who sent the letters. Reading letters.
Dileepa shows photos of the Kingsway students to their future pen-
pals and the students read their letters.

Deepani and student. Explaining.
Deepani and teachers explain the project.

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Uda Walawe
Photos by EFECT

The second school to participate is literally on the doorstep of Uda Walawe National park, on the southern side - in fact we used to give some of them rides to school in our jeep on our way in, along with the many other safari jeeps in the area! Although they live so close to elephants, who they see across the electric fence nearly every day, many of them don't know much about these big animals and the amazing natural world just across the road.

In response to this project, they've also started their own Environmental Club. At this meeting after school, there were about 150 9th, 10th, and 11th grade students! They wrote their letters in English and Sinhalese, and we will help their teacher translate where necessary.

Cleaning up and preparing the classroom. Principal's welcome speech.
The kids busily tidy up the classroom in preparation for the meeting and are greeted by their school Principal.

Sameera's talk. Ashoka's talk
Sameera and Ashoka tell them about elephants and environment, and why keystone species are important including an example from the U.S. - the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park.

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