Sonia in Sri Lanka !/ Sonia's story

How an experience provided by Rotary some years ago changed one person's life

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Sonia tells us about herself:

"In 1998, I was sponsored by the Rotary Club in Brigg, North Lincolnshire to go on the group study exchange programme to Mexico.  Rotary International supported this programme. The experience I gained was immense and life changing. It was necessary for me to learn Spanish to go on the exchange to be able to carry out presentations whilst touring around the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, reviewing the education system. This gave me a massive boost in my confidence and on my return I gained a promotion and moved down to Kent. Following on from this I then did a massive amount of travelling solo to places such as Chile and Argentina.

As the years went by and my career in the field of education and teaching took over my life, my Rotary memories faded a little  that is until recently.  My life took another turn last year as I was diagnosed with bowel cancer and I decided to review my life/style balance.  After numerous operations and chemotherapy treatment I am really happy to say 'I live to tell the tale'.  Now I want to maximise my life and hopefully make an even bigger difference to others along the way.

In May 2011, I joined the newly formed Medway Sunlight Rotary Club and also took the opportunity to look at the Rotary projects happening around the world.  That is when I stumbled across the Tea Leaf Trust and the amazing work it is doing in Sri Lanka. Teaching young adults and teaching teachers to then work in their community and give something back to help bridge the social divide.

With the support of my husband, I am now visiting the Tea Leaf trust to work with them as a self-funding volunteer for 7 weeks (July and August 2011). This is an incredible opportunity for me to put into practice all the skills I have developed over the years and possibly pass the message on to many more. During my time at the Vision Centre for Professional Development I will be working on a couple of specific tasks -

1. Plan and then run an activity week for approx 2000 children across the region, which currently during the holiday period have no structured activity or direction, and

2. Work with the teachers and review the quality of provision for the students.

I then have a third project to carry out visiting a place called Trincomolee working with an orphanage and carrying out activities for the children there and in addition to teach the teachers to swim!

Quite a lot to do in just 7 weeks but what an incredible opportunity and I can't wait!"