This is not a story about spiritual journeys and finding inner peace. No, this is about realizing how harsh reality is for some people and how we are choosing to look the other way. Everything looks better on Instagram, right?

But perfect lighting or filters cannot change reality. I went on a 6 week trip to Kandy, Sri Lanka. There I worked as a volunteer with orphan children who suffered from different illnesses. Before I went there, I thought of Sri Lanka as a tropical paradise. Reality hit me hard. Yes, there were beautiful beaches, breathtaking sceneries, and luxury resorts, but that was not the everyday life. There is great poverty. People live in miserable conditions. Food is prepared in highly unhygienic environments (but it tastes fantastic!!) The traffic is absolutely chaotic (a 40km journey with the bus takes about 4-5 hours). There are (BIG) spiders everywhere. I am well aware of the fact that not everywhere is the same, but in most places, this is the reality. Still, their culture is beautiful and very interesting. People seem happy and content. They are kind and helpful. That kept me going on. Sometimes the conditions I lived and worked in (with other several volunteers from around the world) were unbearable. Knowing that the locals live like this every day gave me courage, but it still seemed impossible. So next time you visit a country, take time and try to experience it’s reality, it’s everyday life, not only the tourist attractions. What you will discover might surprise you and change your perspective of the world forever.

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Some of the kids

Kitchen in restaurant

Newspaper pages instead of napkins

Spider in the kitchen

Chaos on the streets

Chicken shop

Cutting and selling fish in the street

Deer taking a stroll