Visiting Sri Lanka

Find out about Jenny Dixon's experience volunteering for Ocean STars in Sri Lanka

OceanStars :: Thursday 5th January 2017 :: This Story

At half term I had the privilege of joining a group of 35, including 18 youngsters and 4 teachers from a secondary school in Fleet (team 1), who went to work with a charity called Ocean Stars, based in Batticola in east Sri Lanka. I was part of team 2, who visited the 15 pre-school groups funded by the charity in remote areas where the is otherwise no provision for free early schooling.

The Ocean Stars Trust was started after the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004, when the whole of the east coast of Sri Lanka was affected by this while still suffering in the Civil War with the Tamil Tigers. More than 5000 people lost their lives in Sri Lanka in the tsunami. Team 1 worked in secondary Schools, bringing fresh ideas, enthusiasm and laughter into lives devastated by events. In 2 school half the students were left as orphans and 1 teacher lost the whole class. The school had to be rebuilt and a counsellor is always on duty.

Team 2, working in pairs, each spent a morning in a pre-school group, basing songs, games and craft work on the story 'Rainbow Fish', which was read by us and translated by an interpreter. A friend and I went to the newest school - just a building beside a road, with concrete floor and open sides above shoulder height. No water, no toilets, little equipment, but happy, co-operative, well-behaved children who readily joined in with everything we had organised for them. Our parting gift to every single child a teddy bear, lovingly knitted in Britain. (These are given every year, so contributions are always welcome.)

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On two mornings we travelled by tuk-tuk to a small village where a community centre has been set up for women who have been left as head of the household. Here they can meet, relax and make things to sell. A teacher comes to teach tailoring and another to instruct in the use of the three computers housed in a shipping container held aloft on what will be the toilets. They are also hoping to provide English lessons. We worked on the concrete floor and the water for tea had to be collected from the village, but a well was opened while we were there and the toilets will come in time! Solar panels on the roof of the shipping container provide power. We showed the ladies (originally a group of 15, but word must have got out and the numbers increased to the top 20s!) how to make greetings cards using several different methods and were pleased with the skill showed and the colours the combined.

One evening we all went to a school hall and shares lots of different activities with people with impaired hearing and on another occasion we were treated to an entertainment by the secondary students from Batti and from Fleet.

What a wonderful experience it was, and all instigated by a lovely Sri Lankan lady who left the island when she was 14 and who is quite sure that God has lead her to do this work and guides everything she plans.

May God continue to bless her and the work of Ocean Stars Trust.


If you would like to join us in Sri Lanka please contact us to find out more.