Posted by: horizonlankafoundationlk | August 6, 2007

Miss Marissa Charles | United Kingdom – The First Volunteer at Horizon Lanka


Miss Marissa Charles volunteered at Horizon Lanka for 3 months (December 2004 to early March 2005) and worked as a teacher, mentor designer of future plans for Horizon Lanka.


Marissa is the girl who turned the first page of the new chapter, volunteering, at Horizon Lanka. Fortune is the first word that should be attributed to the name of this girl. It is most applicable to mention that luck visited Horizon Lanka along with Marissa. That is how an ordinary layman could comment on Marissa. But this is not at all enough to sum up Marissa’s stature. Her organizational capabilities were much mature to her age. When she first visited HLF along with the onset of Tsunami most of Horizon Lanka work was in disarray. During her stay it is correct to say that she actually had no free time at all. She voluntarily looked for what could be done to rectify the mechanism at Horizon Lanka did what was necessary with more devotion than that could be found in a permanent local employee at Horizon Lanka.

Despite all this she had the courage to call a spade a spade. Her arguments were remarkably factual and humanness was always oozing from them. Her sense of humour was marvelous. She had a marvelous talent for teaching and she could befriend any incorrigible student much better than a local teacher. Fatigue by work was never a complaint in her character. – Ranjith Pushpakumara, Head Master, Horizon Lanka Academy

See more of her pictures at



  1. My time at HLF changed my whole life. It made me look at the world in a more humane and charitable way. Having worked in the corporate world for over 10 years, my desicion to volunteer only came about with impending redundancy. Having never volunteered or lived in a foreign country or lived in the jungle, I was slightly apprehensive about leaving my comfortable life in London for 3 months. I cried twice whilst I was in Mahavilachchiya – the day I arrived and the day I left.

    The children were fantastic from day 1. Some were more keen to learn English than others but they all tried and amazingly they all understood me by the time I left! I’d never taught english before. My skills lay in organisation, administration and finance! However, being thrown in the deep end was the most benefitial way for me and them to learn.

    I taught kids aged 3 up to 18 years old. The 3 year olds loved singing all the old nursery rhymes I dug up from my past and the 18 year olds just liked chewing the fat!

    The teachers I met – Mr Ranjith, Buddhika and many others – were all so welcoming. Me and my London ways were a little novel to them at first but they just took me at face value and appreciated everything i did.

    Living in a rural village like Mahavilachiya took a little getting used to but within a week that strange english teacher could be seen parading aroudn the village on a bicycle with a pack of children following or attempting to wash in the tank wearing a cheeta and trying not to expose too much flesh!

    If you want to volunteer, I can’t think of a more beautiful or needy place to go. The work was so fulfilling and 2 years on I still get a buzz remembering my time there.

    The school has gone from strength to strength since I left and that is down to the teachers and other volunteers who gave up their time.

    I have been back – for the opening of the new school building and hope to return soon with my partner and my unborn son (who is due in 2 months!).

    Mr Ranjith is too kind in his praise of me – i’m sure most of the time they thought me rude and arrogant but I know I made a difference and that’s what counts!

    love to all at Horizon.

  2. fighting Miss Marissa Charles

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