Prior to making the journey to Sri Lanka, I had my doubts about how much of an impact we would be able to have in less than a week. However, reflecting on the picture above has really changed my perspective.

Before we arrived the local youths only socialised with others in their village. Through the potential of our eco-tourism project we were able to unite them with a common idea and a shared goal; one they could take back to their respective villages to provide inspiration and challenge the status quo.

Before we arrived, the young girls rarely ventured out of the comfort of their home economics classroom. Here they are pictured standing proudly after making the long journey through the wilderness, undoubtedly inspired about the potential of the forest in their own backyard and how ecotourism could change their lives as they know it.

Before we arrived we were told the youths had just finished high school, were unemployed and were spending their time watching TV and sitting around. I was surprised about the level of detail and professionalism they showed in guiding us through the walk. From organising lunch, transport and protecting us from hazards our presence alone was enough to ignite their initiative and gave them a newfound sense of purpose.

Before we arrived, I could say most of us had no real connection to the country of Sri Lanka, other than knowing it was a war-torn island and a tiny blip on the map. Seeing us all stand together, made me reflect and appreciate the new connections and lifelong friendships made. I can now say I have a connection to the country.

Before I came, I was of the impression that an element of success was to finish what you had started. I have now come to realise that sometimes it can be just as important to make that first step or start that movement, no matter how small or insignificant your actions may seem.

Dom Nguyen