I wasn’t too sure what to expect of the Mad Cow Project when I was sitting with Nic over a few drinks at the start of the year while planning out how this whole thing would work. I was committed to seeing this through, but everything felt so far away. We truly were walking into the unknown.

The prospect of travelling overseas to a part of the world you never had envisaged yourself visiting can be daunting. I won’t forget the briefing that Jeremy Liyanage, Director of Bridging Lanka gave us over the phone to prepare the group for this trip. The Mad Cow Project was still in its genesis; we were looking to attract new people, and what better way than to tell the group that it was going to be hard, and we were bound to struggle. Talk about managing expectations!

Fast forward to the trip and it felt like a breeze. This is not to make light of the work we started in Mannar. We committed to working on challenging issues in an environment that we were not familiar with. And for many of us, we were now working in a space way beyond the realms of what we had worked on before. Yet even for the significance of the work we were doing, it felt easy.

You can dissect why this was the case in so many ways, but I truly think it was easy because we were working with such a fantastic team. We had a great breadth of personalities on the trip, yet we just seemed to gel. Everyone just seemed to click so well. We were travelling there with the view of ultimately making change for the better. If we left Sri Lanka feeling like we couldn’t make this change, the trip would have been a failure. But here we all are celebrating the work we have achieved, and the great work that is yet to come from the Mad Cow Project.

If I am to sum up the trip in one picture, it would have to be the one I took of Shashi, one of the guys who was working with Bridging Lanka for our trip. We had just completed the first leg of our second trip through the forests of Kunchukulum. It was hot. We were tired. Shashi took the opportunity to have a well-earned rest on a perfectly positioned tree next to the river. To me, this is what our trip to Sri Lanka was, and what the Mad Cow Project is. From wherever we are, and from whatever we do, we are a group of committed people looking to make our communities a better place, but not without enjoying the journey we take along the way.

Andrew McVittie