Jaydd - volunteering and holidays in Sri Lanka Dilanee giving the gift of a bike in Sri Lanka

TRIP FEEDBACK FROM DANNY CARTER

How Nustar’s generous donation was spent

OceanStars :: Tuesday 15th November 2011 :: This Story

This is a huge thank you for Nustar’s generous donation and to give you a brief out line of where the money was spent

Whilst The Ocean Stars Trust supports 13 nurseries in the Batticaloa area (located on the east coast of Sri Lanka) my wife and I committed ourselves to raising funds for the building of a new nursery in a small community called Karaveddy.

During the 2011 January storms and floods the existing nursery building was badly damaged which resulted in the nursery group being having to operate under tarpaulin cover set up strung between a building with the children sitting on a ground sheet cover over the sand.

The original building had been built post tsunami by an NGO group and repairs were impossible for many reasons.  Ocean Stars decided to construct a new building and it was for funding this new nursery that we committed our efforts.

Children's classroom under tarpaulin - Karaveddy, Sri LankaClasses held under a tarpaulin

Flood damaged building - Karaveddy, Sri Lanka
Flood damaged buildings

 

The new building was started several months ago and during our visit we were able to see the completion and become involved in the opening ceremony.

 

New Ocean Stars classroom under construction - Karaveddy, Sri Lanka
New Ocean Stars classroom under construction - Karaveddy, Sri Lanka

Ocean Stars completed classroom - Karaveddy, Sri Lanka
Ocean Stars completed classroom - Karaveddy, Sri Lanka

Danny with an Ocean Stars pupil - opening of new class in Karaveddy, Sri Lanka
Danny with an Ocean Stars pupil at the opening of the new classroom in Karaveddy, Sri Lanka
This is when we know our efforts are all worth while!

We are now hoping to raise more funds for the construction of a toilet and to fence off the site to keep out the roaming cattle and the many feral dogs which will provide a safe outside area for lessons and play.

The complete trip was again very rewarding.  Seeing the many smiling faces and the support and appreciation of the local community made all the time and effort worthwhile

 

Visiting new Ocean Stars classroom    Children visit their new classroom

Children in classroom    In the new classroom
Teacher, band and villagers greet the Ocean Stars Charity Team at the opening ceremony  in Karaveddy, Sri Lanka


TRIP REFLECTIONS FROM TEAM 2011

Back from their trip to Sri Lanka the Ocean Stars Team reflect on what they have experienced.

OceanStars :: Monday 14th November 2011 :: This Story

Ocean Stars team at the airport in Sri LankaJanine Dunbar

First of all, thank you so much for including me in the team, I had an unforgettable time, and one of the best bits was being part of a great, lovely group of people. As I said on Saturday, (or whenever it was!) I wasn't sure what to expect, and lots of names of people, places etc get mentioned, and now I can match the names to the people! I was bowled over by the warmth and welcome and smiles we got from the children, teachers, families, and how much effort they made to see us, they lead such hard lives, but simple lives, there is no comfort (as I  sit on my comfortable settee, I think of their houses, with hard floors and hard chairs), but I think we have a lot to learn from them; the contrast in Colombo was obvious, but not so much that as the fact that some people seem unaware of the plight of their countrymen in the north and east. An obvious highlight for me was to finally meet Industhan and his family, and to present him with his bike, thank you so much for organising that for us.

I was so impressed by the kindness and cheerfulness of the OSL team, especially Ranga, Sudha and Janake, who got us from A to B in often difficult conditions and kept us safe. There were lots of special times throughout the whole week, and I am going to sit down and write it all down while I can remember what happened when! Lastly, there is so much for Ocean Stars to do, and having been there it is so much easier to tell people about it.


Lydia Marshall

Back in chilly London, Sri Lanka seems a long way away. When people ask how the trip was it is hard to put into words and so far all I have managed to do is mutter “amazing” and change the subject before my jet-lagged words fail me. Hopefully I will become more articulate soon and be able to convince my lovely friends to support Ocean Stars!

In ten days we saw so much, met so many people and had so many thought-provoking experiences. For me the most inspiring part of the trip was spending time in Batticaloa and seeing how the Lanka side of Ocean Stars works. It is amazing (must stop using that word) to see how the hard work that a lot of people in the UK put in enables so many Sri Lankans to help their own communities, whether as a nursery teacher, an Ocean Stars fieldworker or as all-round superhero Ranchan. Visiting the playgroups was also great fun and again very challenging. I did find it hard spending such a short time at each project, but I wouldn't want to have missed any of the places that I was lucky enough to visit, and was also aware of how much each nursery appreciated our coming to see them. Similarly, I would have loved to spend more time at Grace, getting to know the boys there. All the boys have lived through things that no one ought to, and Mrs N. is doing an incredible thing giving them a home. I really hope that this can continue, as I know that the future of Grace is a big concern.

Ultimately, I count myself so lucky to have had this experience. I was dually inspired during the trip… First by the children and adults I met who have suffered war and natural disaster and yet still shared such generosity and joy with us, and secondly by the work of Ocean Stars both in the UK and Sri Lanka. As I said on the last night, although I have spent quite a bit of time in places where people are living in circumstances that are unfair in every sense, this is the first time I have left with the sense that something is being done that is actually improving lives. I am definitely a committed “star” now - all that remains is to figure out an excuse to return to Sri Lanka!

Ocean Stars Grace Children's home group - team and staffKate Whyatt

Back for the fourth time and it was as inspiring as always.  What struck me this year is the remoteness of the nursery schools that OST are involved with.  Firstly there was the opening of Little Stars within a community that has struggled with the impact of the conflict and seems to be miles from anywhere at the edge of the jungle.  I was also fortunate enough to visit Addachakal, again on the edge of the jungle miles from anywhere.  Here the villagers are troubled by wild elephants which destroy crops and houses looking for food, and where I met a young ‘human scarecrow’, a 9 year old boy sitting for hours watching for and protecting the crops from monkeys.

The people we met were, as always, ready to greet us with a smile and the generosity to let us visit them in their homes.  They have so little in terms of possessions yet so much to give.  It is the relationships I have made over the past three visits that takes me back to Sri Lanka each year: the boys at Grace, my sponsor family, the OSL staff in Batti, the three wonderful drivers who never tire of looking after us.

It is so wonderful to see first hand the work that OST is able to do with the money so generously donated in the UK, including the building of wells, toilets, nursery schools, sponsorship of teachers, children etc.

 

Maggi Baird

Where to begin?

After a very good 12 hour flight, we were met by the men who were our drivers.  Little did I realise at that time just what a huge part they play in the whole trip.  All of them worked above and beyond the call of duty.

Off to Negombo, we were treated to a lovely hotel breakfast, shower and a bit R & R.  We were warned, this would be the last chance to relax – how true was that comment!

Off again on the road for a couple of hours to Ranga’s for lunch.  Not as opulent as the hotel, but quite well to do.  My first taste of Sri Lankan hospitality and lovely food.

Off again to our hotel for the next two nights.  More than adequate.  Very wet though, but warm.  Glad of a bed, the first since leaving UK about 28 hours ago.

Next morning saw us on our way to Grace Home for Children – well they’re all boys.  Nothing had prepared me for the welcome they all extended.  They just smiled all day.  Of course, boys being boys, they were all keen to get involved with Frisbees, balls, cricket etc, and took delight at the potted sports.  Again, giving the boys medals (donated by Scottish Athletics) was very touching.  Very few of the lads took them off the whole day.  The art project again caught my attention.  The patience and dexterity of those boys was a sight to behold. Being entertained in the church by the boys was wonderful – even although we had to scamper through monsoon rain to the minibuses to get back to the hotel!  It was so sad leaving those delightful boys, and the chat in the bus was little.

I wonder what will happen to those lads who have nothing and nobody in the world other than Mrs Nadarajah and the home.  It would be good to think there could be found some money to build accommodation for them when they are too old to be supported by OST, so that they could perhaps find work, but at least have a roof over their heads.  A garden for growing vegetables could be put in to the grounds, so providing food for the home, but also, surplus could be sold.

Next day, to Trinco. I knew this was to be both a magical and emotional day.  My first impression of the little ones in the nursery was one of delight.  Those tiny people accepted a dozen foreigners as though it happened every day, and they sang and danced for us.  They are so smart in their purple uniforms, obviously worn with pride.

The older school children joined us.  At this point, I was so close to tears of pure joy because my sponsored child came in through the door.  I signalled to her who I was, and she gave me such a huge smile, I was choked.

All the children were clean and happy – a testimony to the teachers and Janabdeen. 

We visited the sewing project.  Again, the work and decoration those ladies put into dresses, tableware and pillowcases is amazing, and they get little return.  At least they are learning a sustainable skill.  Perhaps a couple more sewing machines would let more ladies gain this skill and make a little extra income.

We then visited our sponsored families.  This was so humbling.  Those people have so very very little, yet here they were plying us with Coke, cake and biscuits.  It’s rude to refuse, but I had difficulty in swallowing.  What kept me going was the fact that the very little money I give each month really does make a difference. 

We left Trinco, and I couldn’t speak.  The emotion hit me like a ton of bricks.  At this stage I could do no more to help “my” family, but perhaps in the future there will be ways.

Next morning saw us packed and off to Batti to Joseph’s.  I had been told it was like going home.  It was.  That hotel- keeper looked after us so very well, and nothing was a problem or too much to do.  It was a relief to get a bit washing done!  The cold shower was a surprise, but a great way to waken up in the morning!

We travelled to some of the more remote areas around Batti to visit, and open nurseries.  I thought the folks in Trinco were poor, this was something else all together. 

“Little Stars” nursery was officially opened, and it was heartening to hear the building will be used for worship and other community groups as well as a nursery.  The children have to walk 3-5Km to get to school.  For little ones, this is a long, long way.  Perhaps another building could be erected to take the children in the first two years of education so they could be nearer home.

The nursery Danny had funded (sorry can’t remember the name) plus the well was lovely.  Again, maybe the damaged building could be repaired as a classroom for the older children. There’s so much that could be done, and it must be difficult to spread funds to greatest need..

Working in the nursery at Chenkalady was a new experience for me.  Happy noisy children engaged in lots of activities and songs.  Not having worked with such little ones was a challenge, but my mindset for the trip was “go with the flow” and I did!

It was here that I got the biggest shock of the whole trip.  Visiting some families of the nursery children, we came across a very young mum and her son living in what can only be described as less than a shack.  Her husband had left – through drink – and her aunt was supporting her where she could.  The dwelling had corrugated walls but only to three feet high, then a space before a covering of palm fronds.  These leaked in the rains, and really there should have been twice as many fronds in use, and even then not been very habitable.

I don’t think providing this girl with a house would be the answer unless it was close to where her family is, but that too worried me as I noticed two empty half bottles of spirits in the grounds.  I just wonder what’s really going on there.


All too soon, it was time to leave Batti and head to Colombo. It was very thought provoking to see the huge difference that tourism has made in Colombo in comparison to the east coast.  I couldn’t sleep that night in by comfy luxury hotel for thinking of those many folks out in the remote areas who do not have electricity nor running water.  They get up and go to bed by the sun.

Ocean Stars Grace Children's home groupHelena Carter

Home for less than a week now I am amazed at how quickly we get used to the luxury of modern life in the UK...

taps with a continuous supply of running water, clean hygienic toilets,  electric lights, solid walls and non leaking roofs. 

None of these things are available to the children we visited in the Nurseries like Nelloor, Karaveddy or Little Stars. But my favourite memories are not of the poverty we saw, but of smiling faces, committed teachers and caring communities.

I am proud to think that in some way we helped provide some basic of needs for these children, like wells and toilets; proud to be part of Ocean Stars dream for the future; slightly overwhelmed by the knowledge that thereis so much more to do, so many more children in need.

Chris Cooper

Everything is still going round in my head; we seemed to cram so much into 10 days.


The remoteness of the projects struck me this time and the difficulty of travel. It takes a huge effort for the villagers to leave their immediate region to travel to anywhere – school, hospital etc. The homes /shelters where they live, many without easy access to water or the things we take for granted. In spite of their poverty their dignity and willingness to share the little they have.

I remember the speeches made at the opening of playgroups and at the evening for the deaf and dumb community when the value of education was stressed and we were overwhelmed by the gratitude expressed for the small contributions we can make.

Most of all I remember the children having fun, laughing and playing, giving back so much more than they had received. I feel privileged to have shared a short time with them

Carolyn Marshall

2 days after returning from Sri Lanka my head is still full of vivid pictures of the people and places we've left behind us, and I’m still trying to process the many wonderful, moving and challenging experiences we had.
Going back this year for my second visit it was lovely to return to familiar places and to connect again with people who are becoming friends, as well as building some new relationships.

There were so many special moments this year, and it seems looking back on them that many of them were about real communication and connection, even when we did not have a shared language. It was wonderful to play and laugh with the boys at Grace, and to share with them in games and painting in the afternoon – particularly powerful was watching the young boy painting beside John for an hour and a half in a really precious time of quiet one to one shared space and communication.

At the opening of Little Stars it was so moving to see so many people of all ages gathering, and to hear from the Pastor of the different ways they are planning to use the space. I was really humbled and challenged to see the man who had so generously given the land and then helped to clear it. He was not a wealthy man, and it was very touching to see his pleasure in the gift of 1 of the famous knitted teddies which he carefully wrapped up in his plastic carrier bag. His real sacrificial gift of the land has challenged me about how I give from my position of plenty.

Another special memory for me from this year was when 3 of us went with Thulia to walk round the village of Kanankudah with the Playgroup Teacher, and then had the privilege of sitting with her family for a while outside their home. Seeing the real poverty and difficulties which they face daily, I felt a strong connection with them as women and mothers as well as a deep sadness. On this occasion, and again when chatting with some of the lovely girls at St. Vincent’s school, it was impossible to know what to say when somebody simply said “life is hard here”. I felt all I could say is “I know”, and hope that somehow our being there for that short time conveys how they are not forgotten, and that in as much as we can we are standing with them.



More last days: Teacher training to Colombo

More Last Days

OceanStars :: Monday 31st October 2011 :: This Story

A pleasant party with and for the teachers of the 13 playgroups whom OST support was held on the Thursday evening, where all kinds of silly games were played and playgroup songs sung. This had brought them to Batti town for the evening (many having travelled several hours to get here) so that they could attend the Teacher Training morning that we had arranged for Friday morning. The evening also allowed us to celebrate Matt's 21st birthday which followed this week.

Ocean Stars teacher training eventThe teacher training event involved a starter circle-type session, followed by 5 separate group sessions which the teachers all attended carousel-style, and played board games, made model elephants, collage work, worked on children’s heights with a wall-tape, or did “physical games” – running around, balancing bean bags etc.

 

Matts birthday cakeThe morning concluded with speeches, resources gifts, and certificates, and a final group curry. One snag – there was a power cut from about 1100, the fans stopped, and it got rather hot and sweaty in the heat of the midday sun.

 

Ocean Stars teachers

Ocean Stars teachers make elephants

A morning swim, Sri LankaThe Team left Batticaloa at 2pm. Three vans, one mostly with luggage, left for the 8 hour journey to Colombo. Several of us – particularly those of us who got up for the Dawn Swim from Joseph’s hotel – managed to sleep at least part of the way.

Heavy rains fell again for a lot of the journey, so tribute to the driving skill of Janaka, Suda and Ranga, the latter who still found time to show us the sights including a huge lizard bathing in a stream somewhere along the way.

So just 24 hours from 10.30pm at the Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel Colombo to wind down with a flight scheduled at 2am on the Saturday morning. A sobering moment for all of us, observing the comparative tourist boom-led wealth of the capital city against the poverty of the East – there are no hotels like these in Batti, and few Sri Lankans know both parts well – a real divide. All the more pertinent that OST puts so many of its generously donated resources into those areas of the country.

Another great October visit, result of tremendous planning of naturally Ranchan "on the ground", (and others in the country to get us to Vavunia and Trinco) and 6 months or so's work from Dilanee and the 2011 Team. Let us hope that the result is a strengthening of the Ocean Stars Trust’s work in Vavunia, Trinco, and Batti, and even to broaden the scope of the charity’s work in the future.

Ocean Stars elephants

End of blog for

 Dilanee, Dan, John, Carolyn, Matt, Lydia, Maggi, Kate,Helena, Danny, Maureen, Chris, and Janine.


Last Days

Day 7 Teaching at the playgroups

OceanStars :: Monday 31st October 2011 :: This Story

Today reports from some of the 4 playgroups visited by Team members in 2s and 3s. Teaching had been carefully planned from weeks ago, and since the nurseries were mostly local, I think everyone got there on time to complete a full 3 hour session with the children.


Chris, Lydia and Dan at Kirankulum.  (Chris)

It was lovely to go back to Kirankulum and see some of the children we had met last year, together with lots of new ones. The children were happy and lively, obviously enjoying the chick pea and milk lunch provided at the playgroup. The teachers encouraged lots of activities and enjoyed helping us with mask-making, collage and singing. Percussion was a highlight with the children counting in English and Tamil, their pronunciation putting ours to shame – our Tamil wasn't nearly as good.

It’s humbling to see the vary basic conditions, with such limited resources available, producing an environment in which children can thrive and learn. It’s a very uplifting experience.

Elephant masks at Kirankulam nursery - Sri Lanka

Meeting children at Kirankulam, Sri Lanka

Children at Kirankulam, Sri Lanka

Carolyn and Janine at Kaluwarchikudy (Janine)

Carolyn and I arrived at Kaluwarchikudy just after 8 – the building was spacious and in comparison to Tuesday, seemed better equipped. 23 arrived, some of the children started crying and at one point 5 were crying at once, which was upsetting for us as we couldn't comfort them as they were scared of us.

Circle time, the story and our first activity went well, the teachers helped the children a lot in terms of doing some of the sticking etc for them. After break we went outside and played "Elmer says," which worked well, and then played with the bean bags. The children all enjoyed the outdoor games. Then we did one more collage activity and suddenly the morning was over – the session finished at 11, not 1130, so there was a rush to get teddies given out, with masks and photos, and we didn't have time to sing more songs or listen to the children singing to us.

The children seemed better nourished, and after playgroup we went for a walk around, arriving at the teacher’s house, passing a very large pink mansion which belonged to the aunt of one of the playgroup children. The teacher’s house was spacious and cool, and we were treated to a glass of king coconut juice before going back to the nursery for a delicious lunch..

During the morning Dilanee had phoned to say she had bought a bike for Indushan, and he was coming to Joseph’s at 3. The bike was amazing, shiny, complete with lock and bell – and pompoms on the wheels! Indushan arrived by tuktuk, with his mother and was a little shy at being photographed by about 8 people at once, but both he and Mum seemed delighted, and it was special for me to be able to present it to him while I was here. Thank you Dilanee for organising it – I think it will make a difference to his life.

Maggi and Maureen at Kurumunvely

Fortunately not all the 56 enrolled turned up. The 40 odd who took part in today’s session had the advantage of being in the church building, where there was more space. The ladies had a fun time working with Nilanthe, whom Maureen has known for several years now.

Craft work at Kurumunvely
Elephant ears at Kurumunvely

Meeting with sponsored girls from Vincent’s School (secondary) in the afternoon.

These sponsor arrangements go back to Dilanee’s first trip here in 2005, so many of the girls are approaching University courses. It was fascinating to hear about their ambitions, as these are all highly motivated girls.

Vincents School sponsored girls


Day 6: Openings and Toppings Out

Day 6: Openings and Toppings Out

OceanStars :: Monday 31st October 2011 :: This Story

A later start saw us driving to Karaveddy first. Past familiar paddy fields and more paddy fields across the flat terrain we arrived to a welcome of some 60-70 mix of mothers grandmothers and tots. A novelty this time was being paraded in to the new playgroup building by a minor percussion band. The building itself was smaller than its predecessor that had been made unusable by the January floods, indeed a similar size to those other new ones we’d visited.

61-a-warm-welcome.jpg
Ocean Stars Trust opens a new nursery in Sri Lanka
Danny, who had provided the funds to rebuild the playgroup, had the honour of cutting the ribbon. Then it was some very thoughtful speeches by the locals, but a bit too far for 3-4 year olds who were simply waiting for the orange and biscuits. Danny's speech captured the mood - short and to the point!

Afterwards some gifts to the kids – flags and balloons - a good look at the well that Danny had also financed, then off to Mandoor.

Mandoor 1, that is. A notable achievement noted by all in the midday 30 degree heat, of the 28 feet well recently completed, to match the toilet also financed by The Bunches – “Bunches Bogs”.

A new toiletAt the new well in Sri Lanka

Bunches Bogs... and Wells

Ocean Stars opens another new nursery in Kurumunvely, Sri LankaThen to Kurumunvely, the playgroup next to the Methodist church in the town of that name, where Collingwood College is supporting the extension build. A reception from the teachers and church workers (today is Diwali, a holiday, and therefore no school). Extension not yet completed as it was decided that the extension should go a little further to support the 52 tots who are registered.  Thus more funds required! So we called it a “topping out” ceremony to celebrate part of the roof being erected.

 

This classroom is just too smallThe too small classroom for 56 tots!

Interesting roads along the way. Included a recently collapsed bridge where the roadway around it was flooded.  More skill from our drivers!

Evening; entertained by the Deaf and Dumb group at Kalladay.


Day 5: Visits To Playgroups All Over The Place

OceanStars :: Tuesday 25th October 2011 :: This Story

Today my own personal visit was with Kate, danny, Matt, and Helena to Addachakal nursery, which opened with OST help in May, pays two teachers, Modisswari (18) and Malini (17) to teach the thirty five 3 and 4 year olds who come there from 08.00 'til 11.30 each day.

It was another very long trek, further indeed into the paddy fields than Little Stars was. we arrived at 0930, with Suda negotiating another lot of broken bridges and precarious sandy pot holes.

Ocean Stars - colouring in elephants

John


Day 4 Travel to Batti and Opening of Little Stars

Day 4: To Batticaloa and “Little Stars”

OceanStars :: Tuesday 25th October 2011 :: This Story

A lot of travel: 2 hours to get some chips at Polonnaruwa (where notably Queen Elizabeth 2 visited for chips in 1954), another 2 hours to Joseph's hotel (AvonLea – "A home from home") at Batti. Then, after a break, another 2 hours to get to Little Stars playgroup, which Matt had been independently instrumental in founding, in the middle of nowhere, down a long rough track from the main road surrounded by paddy fields.

John

Dan's notes

After a fabulous day at Trinco, the team were summoned to breakfast at 0630. As Dilanee stated today: "Tired doesn't come into Ocean Stars vocabulary." The day involved a lot of travelling: we left at 7.30, and with a brief stop for French Fries which involved a stunning view of Sri Lanka's mountainous landscape, we arrived at Joseph's for 11.30.

Our main event of the day was the opening of "Little Stars" nursery, which has been built over the past year and funded by OST team member Matt Marshall. The playgroup was located about 30 minutes' from the main road along sandy tracks often pitted with huge holes which made Suda think twice about carrying on. We were welcomed with garlands by the waiting women and children and a purple ribbon across the entrance. The ceremony inside involved lighting of the lamp by various members of the community, and speeches by Dilanee Matt and The Local Pastor, with Ranchan (of Ocean Stars Lanka) providing the translations. All were greatly received, and emotionally delivered on what was a very special day for Matt and OST as a whole.

The journey to the playgroup was rather adventurous, as it involved completely-packed vans and very mischievous roads – resulting in a very bumpy ride!

As I write, the team is preparing for all the fun and games tomorrow in the playgroups.


Day 3, Trinco and the Jungle Lodge

Day 3 Trinco, the Playgroup at Vellaimanil, and the Jungle Lodge

OceanStars :: Tuesday 25th October 2011 :: This Story

Away from our hotel by 06.45.  Arrived at the playgroup by 09.30, and up the steps to see 35 litll'uns seated in a horseshoe in front of us, with Mums peering over the wall into the room.

Children at Trinco nursery Sri Lanka.jpgThey sang us a range of songs mostly in pretty good English, and then Maureen took over and led the party with Elmer-inspired songs and games. All followed heartily with the Team joining in. Then as the sun beat down Maggi and others took some out to play games outside, whilst others were photographed in the hope of finding sponsors at home.

Textiles were bought at the sewing project afterwards. Then to various homes to deliver gifts from sponsors. I delivered to Joan Tasker's child with Janine and Kate. This was a Moslem fisherman's family with 5 children, the sponsored one being the penultimate one. They live like many others in a post-tsunami new house. Father goes some 40 minutes on a bus to his boat, to start at dawn at 6.00. He usually return 13 hours later, having hopefully caught 1 or 2 big tuna fish. These can weigh up to 80 kg.

Others brought back stories from their visits.

Then to Jenabdeen's house - coordinator here of the programme. A sumptuous lunch of curried seafood (crab, prawn, etc). A quick trip to the local coast of Dead Man's Cove (only the British can think of names like these), presently a military area, but we were let through to see one of the nine OST boats moored there - as well as seeing fantastic blue seawater.

Now to Rohan's Jungle Lodge, a real treat. On the way our minibus lingered by the road as we spied a dozen elephants down in the valley. Wonderful sight!

It took two land-rovers, on a treacherous track to drive us to the hideaway. Sadly no elephants, but up on the rock we could have seen the whole world. Bit like the Lion King I thought. Good drinks, a nice chat, and another sumptuous curry - string hoppers, chicken, bread fruit, potato, sambol, jack fruit.

Earlier night tonight 10ish before packing for Batti.

John


Working at Nelloor - Batticaloa

Working at Nelloor - Batticaloa

OceanStars :: Sunday 23rd October 2011 :: This Story

Dear All - I am happy to show you some photos about Ocean Stars team's work in Batticaloa.  We went to Nelloor play group.  Teachers and some helpers were there, we started the work we had planned before.  Some neighbours came and helped.  At 2pm we were all are hungry and had a good meal locally.  On the way back to the hotel we don't know how many minutes we traveled because we all slept in the van except Danny and Helana.
 
Ranchan   


Day 2 Grace Children’s Home

The team visit Grace children's home

OceanStars :: Sunday 23rd October 2011 :: This Story

A summary of the day

Left JC villages at 7.00 after “English breakfast”.  Smoothish ride over mostly new roads still being built by local men and women, tarring away in hard hats and flipflops.  Around 9.30 we arrived at Grace Children’s home and were greeted smilingly by some of the boys.  After drunk our cokes  we were straight into activities playing with the boys – Frisbees, cricket, foam aeroplanes and whatever.

Running races at Grace childrens homeThen Maggi took over with her fantastic range of races and relays involving an hour of team-forming, cheerleading, balloons, beanbags,coloured papers and sweat. All played with a lot of great humour and competitiveness and light-hearted cheating.

And everyone got a medal, and of course some Scottish saltires.  After that time for cricket and walking around the newly furnished “peace –garden”, which boys tend daily.

Lunch – a superb one of many curries – was consumed late because everyone was having such fun.

Children's art project Grace children's homeAfter lunch it was Kate’s art project and one by one the boys got into it and produced some wonderful evocative stuff. Most intrigued by my little lad who took ten minutes to start, but once I had dipped his brush in the poster red paint, was off and away, copying my abstract shapes I was absentmindedly slamming on to my canvas. And taking just as long as I did.

Games followed: Connect4, Uno and the like, and it got hot in that little “classroom”.
We spoke to Mrs N, and also to the resident Pastor, Chairman of the Home (who also interviewed Dilanee for his magazine).  We finished with prize-giving and birthday party cakes for Pastor (50) and Mrs N (a sprightly 75). Then renditions by the boys in the chapel, fond farewells and dashes to the minibuses through the inevitable monsoon that started at 6pm.

Back to hotel at 9.15 and straight to spicy noodles. Staff meeting over dinner, a bit of prep for Trinco tomorrow… and our 6am breakfast!

Lydia’s thoughts

What a lovely day at Grace!. The boys were so welcoming and it was great fun getting to know some of them. I think the best thing was seeing how they along with each other and how much they love Mrs Nadarajah. She has made a lovely home for them.

Maureen

It was great to return! Visiting again with Mrs N and the boys, playing games, listening to them laugh, painting pictures – it was such a busy day. I continue to be inspired by Mrs N’s love and commitment to the boys. It’s now a happy, peaceful place and it’s encouraging to see that OST’s commitment over the years has brought change and improvement to the boys lives. As per usual, they gave lots of love and warmth to us and it was difficult to say goodbye.
Yet again a very special day and I’ll treasure the memories.

Maggi

What an amazing place! A sense of calm prevailed all day yet all the boys had so much fun, playing together in silly potted sports. The lads are so polite and loved the individual attention given to them. It’s quite humbling that a few games made from paper, plus one or two card board games, and paint and paper means so much to them. We take so much for granted.
Very emotional leaving the boys. They were very affectionate.

Janine

Cheering on the runners in Sri LankaI had a wonderful day, the boys and Mrs N were so welcoming and friendly and they seemed to lead happy lives, even though they do not have much in the way of individual possessions. The lunch was delicious, and the boys are so confident singing to us. It was a full day and I will never forget it!

 

Ocean Stars Grace Children's home group

That's all for tonight

John


[Previous] 1 2 [Next]