Newsletter July 2020

Dilanee Bunter, Founder and Operations Manager of Ocean Stars Trust, reports on what has been a challenging 2020 so far for the charity, as with many other UK charities.

Naomi Booth :: Tuesday 30th June 2020 :: This Story

"I was in Sri Lanka in January 2020 and had the privilege of visiting our all-island projects, distributing new uniforms, spending time with our Ocean Stars Lanka team and opening both a new music classroom at Urani High School and a new preschool building at Thantha for Little Stars. All this seems like a dream now as we complete almost 12 weeks in lockdown in the UK.

During the UK lockdown, Sri Lanka has been on 24/7 curfews with people being allowed out every 4th day to get essential items during a 6-hour window. It soon became clear to us that several of our preschools located in poorer villages relied on a daily wage income and there-fore children and families were struggling to find their daily meals. After considering carefully the hardships endured by people everywhere we launched our Covid-19 appeal for a month from April to May. We were truly thankful to everyone for their support and for their generosity which meant that we were able to provide 300 food parcels to our neediest and poorest families. The local government offices were also very appreciative of the help we were giving to their communities.

We would like to thank our Ocean Stars Lanka staff who have worked non- stop during curfews from home and subsequently from our office to make sure that all our communities and families had enough to eat and remained healthy. We set up from the beginning of lockdown weekly zoom calls with our OSL team. Zeddy, our Monitoring and Evaluation Supervisor joins our zoom calls from Kenya so we span 3 time zones with the UK getting the early morning slot!! We have begun to really value these weekly meetings as we have completed lots of major admin tasks and talked about our weekly plans. Home learning has become the new norm for our preschool children. OST UK and Lanka have been working closely with the Preschool Bureau to establish a learning programme and to make sure that it has been implemented. New WhatsApp groups have been established be-tween teachers and parents, and teachers and OSL staff and myself.

It seems like a whole new world of communication has been opened up, certainly, and we all feel more connected than ever before. Our fundraising has moved to virtual events. If you feel you would like to make a donation to support our continued work in Sri Lanka further details on how to donate can be found in this our Newsletter. Thank you for your support and, as the future seems uncertain,

I wish you all peace and good health."

Dilanee

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Quiz night

Book your place!!

Naomi Booth :: Monday 22nd June 2020 :: This Story

Picture: /files/latest-news/394/w288/ocean-stars-quiz-pm-poster-july-2020-final.jpgThank you to everyone who has signed up for our Ocean Stars Virtual Quiz pm Thursday 2nd July at 8.00 pm.

We still have a few places so please register and enjoy an evening with our quiz Master Mike.

Vitural Quiz with Mike Gardener
When:
Time: 8pm
Where: Via Zoom video
Email: oceanstarstrust@gmail.com

E-mail to register your interest. Secure your place by making your payment of £10 by TEXTING oceanstarstrust to 70085 (Texts cost £10 plus one standard network rate message). Or by BACS Payment to: Ocean Stars Trust, Account No: 02662990, Lloyds Bank, Fleet
Sort Code: 30-93-32

Our Alternative Curry Evening

Thank you for supporting our Alternative Curry Evening for Ocean Stars. A true Sri Lankan curry feast was enjoyed by many families worldwide!

Naomi Booth :: Thursday 4th June 2020 :: This Story

Picture: /files/latest-news/393/w288/curry.jpgThank you to everyone who has participated in the alternative #OSTCurryNight with some fantastic Sri Lankan meals being enjoyed. We've had an amazing response with over 40 families participating across the world! Thanks for sending your curry photos, sorry we could not include them all!

If you didn't get round to cooking a Sri Lankan meal today, do get in touch if you want access to some Sri Lankan recipes and videos by sending a DM or emailing oceanstarstrust@gmail.com.

You can donate through our website. Your donations and support are hugely appreciated during these challenging times. Our work empowering children through education in Sri Lanka continues in spite of all the Covid lockdowns, restrictions and curfews.

 

Continuing work with communities in Sri Lanka.

During Covid-19 lockdown and curfews in Sri Lanka Ocean Stars UK and Lanka have continued working...

Naomi Booth :: Wednesday 3rd June 2020 :: This Story

Picture: /files/latest-news/392/w288/food-parcels.jpgOver 300 food parcels have been distributed and 700 + children are accessing home learning. We have just completed painting Kancharikudah preschool following recent refurbishment work. We would like to thank a Glasgow based Charity Sunny-Sid3 Up for their partnership with Ocean Stars and for sponsoring this project.

 

Fundraise and learn!

Learn how to make an authentic Sri Lankan meal and cook it at home

Naomi Booth :: Thursday 21st May 2020 :: This Story

COVID Curry NightWHAT: Learn how to make an authentic Sri Lankan meal and cook it at home
WHEN: Saturday 30th May 2020
WHERE: In your own home
COST: Suggested donation £10


HOW IT WORKS:
1. Upon registration, you will receive an ingredients list and written recipes for a classic Sri Lankan meal
2. Watch a video showing you how to make the meal
3. Cook a Sri Lankan meal at home
4. Send us a picture of the final result via email or tag a photo on social media #OSTcurrynight

BONUS QUIZ: You will also have access to a quiz to add some extra entertainment to your Sri Lankan curry evening

REGISTER
If you are interested, please email oceanstarstrust@gmail.com to register or DM us on Facebook @oceanstarstrust. After you have registered, we will contact you directly with more information. Please spread the word and see if we can have a mega curry evening for Ocean Stars!

DONATE

TEXT OCEANSTARSTRUST TO 70085 TO DONATE £10

You can donate online through our website or directly to our account:

Bank: Lloyds Bank, Fleet Branch
Sort Code: 30-93-32
Account Name: Ocean Stars Trust
Account Number: 02662990
IBAN: GB27LOYD30933202662990

Being part of Team 2

What impact has being in Team2 had on participants?

Naomi Booth :: Wednesday 13th May 2020 :: This Story

October 2019 Impact reflections

 

  • The Ocean Stars Lanka team were incredible. I could not have asked for a more prepared and organised team.
  • The What's app group chat was really helpful to keep in touch with the team and have any questions answered.
  • I was amazed at how extremely highly regarded Ocean Stars is across Sri Lanka.
  • I was struck by how everyone works so well together towards making sure Ocean Stars work has maximum impact.
  • I realised how much I take for granted back home.
  • I enjoyed the challenge of being constantly pushed outside my comfort zone.
  • A truly life-changing experience which I will never forget.

Team 2 making trip hats

  • I felt very supported by the UK and SL teams during the trip.
  • As a result of all our meetings, I felt very prepared for the trip.
  • I was able to see first-hand what an influence Ocean Stars has on the lives of so many children.
  • I have found myself in lots of new situations during the week and that has helped me develop my confidence no end.
  • I have learnt how to work with people who are so different to me.
  • I enjoyed being given responsibilities during the trip.
  • It was helpful having a mix of experience on the team.
  • The experience was unique and very special.
  • The OSL team were amazing in the way they worked together and their organisation as brilliant.
  • It is interesting to observe the impact the Child Development programme is having on the preschools that have been selected.
  • Making connections are an important part of this trip.
  • The organisation on the ground was excellent.
  • OST work is growing not just in terms of numbers but in quality of engagement as demonstrated by the Child Development Programme and Teacher Training.
  • Really good to be part of a diverse team of committed individuals.

Team 2 at the airport

  • The detail involved in organising a trip like this is incredible
  • We were warmly welcomed wherever we went.
  • A very tight schedule which was very well planned and managed.
  • Just being at the preschools the impact that Ocean Stars has on rural communities was evident.
  • I feel I learnt more from the children and the staff than they learnt from us about values and the human spirit.
  • It's been a brilliant trip. Enriching in so many ways.
  • The diversity of the people we worked with during the week: young and old, Tamil, Sinhalese, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim,  hearing impaired, UK, Sri Lankan......Just a mind blowing experience. 





Freya's Story

Freya Innes, Head Girl (2019-2020), Calthorpe Park School, talks about the impact of the trip to Sri Lanka as a Year 10. Freya was part of a group of twenty one students and four teachers who travelled to Sri Lanka in October 2019 to visit their link scho

Naomi Booth :: Monday 11th May 2020 :: This Story

My journey with Ocean Stars started aged 7 when I was in Year 4 at Velmead School. This journey has affected my friends and me and I would like to tell you about it.

I was first introduced to the charity when I was in year 4 and performed with Velmead School at the Ocean Stars Variety show. I sang with the choir and performed in various different acts during the four years I was at Velmead school. From the first year I was captivated by the amazing work Ocean Stars were doing and was very keen to support from then.

Freya on her visit to Sri Lanka

When I joined Calthorpe in 2015, I continued to take part in the Variety shows with music groups and then I was made aware of the exciting opportunity elder students were getting at school to go to Sri Lanka. It seemed like such a surreal opportunity I so desperately wanted to take part in.



In 2017, I applied to go on the trip of a lifetime run by Ocean Stars to Sri Lanka and I was fortunate enough to be offered a place along with 20 other students. Then the real work began! For over a year in advance the team spent lots of time fundraising doing a range of things from cake sales to bike rides, car washes to fun walks. However, we worked exceedingly well as a team and by the time we travelled out in October 2018 we had raised just over £11,000.

While on our fantastic trip, we spent the first few days travelling around and exploring how beautiful, interesting and incredible the country is. Though I very much enjoyed what we referred to as our tourist side of the trip, we were all really there for one thing and that was to work with the children Ocean Stars supports.

A few days into the trip, we arrived on the East Coast of Sri Lanka in the area known as Batticaloa. There is nothing there. The people live basic lives and even today are still affected by the 2004 tsunami and civil war. During the 5 days we spent there we worked in the schools Ocean Stars supports, colouring, playing sports and sharing laughter with the students. If I had to choose my top 3 highlights from my time there, they would be these:

One afternoon we attended the opening ceremony of a new pre-school in Chenkallady. £6000 of our fundraising had gone towards building it and we all felt incredibly proud and special when we arrived and the young children put on a traditional dancing show for us in their beautiful costumes. 

Freya on her visit to Sri Lanka

Another highlight was when a smaller group of us attended a deaf school the charity supports. It was a very emotional experience being among the children who not only were affected by natural disasters but also by their own disability. However, that did not stop them being thoroughly enthusiastic.  Despite the barriers they proceeded to teach me the alphabet in sign language. Laughing hysterically when I made the wrong signs – it was truly a precious time.


On our last day in Batticaloa the mood shifted when we experienced the true extent of the devastation caused in a village now named the "Tsunami Village". Families living there were displaced by the disaster and were assisted by the government until a few years ago when they had to return to the ghost like village. We distributed bags of essential resources to the families there who live in ruins with no electricity or running water. It really made us reflect on how lucky we all are and the subsequent journey back across the island was subdued in a thoughtful silence.

After spending a couple of days in Colombo, both teams met up in the hotel for a final debrief. Something that has resonated with me and the whole of our cohort is something a member of team 2 shared with us all. "Though we in the West are so materially rich we will never be able to reach the level of spiritual contentment every person we met displayed though they had no possessions or wealth"

Since we have returned, that message has remained with me and makes me value everything I have a little bit more. Although we took many resources out there and gave them away, I personally have gained much more than I gave from the experience.


So that has been my journey with Ocean Stars which I hope continues for many more years because it is such a shining charity doing incredible work. I hope everyone here tonight, whether you are part of Ocean Stars, have never heard of it before or knows only a little, gets a feel about how the charity which began so small creates so much positive change to children and their families devastated by the 2004 Tsunami. We really saw how empowering children through education really makes a difference first-hand. Ocean Stars will always have a place in my heart, and I hope tonight it has entered into yours.


Link School Impact

Find out what impact having a link school in Sri Lanka has for both schools

Naomi Booth :: Monday 11th May 2020 :: This Story

Impact on Local Sri Lankan Students

  • Sri Lankan students have opportunities to share in exciting learning opportunities, developing skills and talents they did not know they had
  • Sri Lankan students  are able to share their unique culture and heritage with our students
  • Sri Lankan students are able to take on meaningful roles, helping to facilitate activities in their own schools, and acting as translators
  • By leaving behind musical instruments we have brought, Sri Lanka students are able to taking on directing and organisational roles for their schools, continuing a school samba band, long after we have left
  • Sri Lanka students are able to share their unending skills in the fields of cricket, drama and dance and amaze our students with their talents
  • Sri Lanka students are able to partipcate in activities which they would not normally be able to engage in, in their own local community
  • Sri Lanka students have the opportunity to experience cultural activities outside of Sri Lankan and Asian culture, those broadening their understanding of the world in which they live
  • Sri Lankan students see others volunteering and are inspired to give something back to their own community and to their own country
  • Sri Lanka students have the opportunity to experience cultural activities outside of Sri Lankan and Asian culture, those broadening their understanding of the world in which they live
  • Sri Lankan students see others volunteering and are inspired to give something back to their own community and to their own country
  • Sri Lankan students are directly motivated because of their experiences with Ocean Stars and many schools see significant improvements in students engagement, motivation and success
  • Sri Lankan students build friendships with British students which they are able to maintain and develop through social media

Impact on UK students

  • Being involved with Ocean Stars and the visit to Sri Lanka is so impactful for our students at Calthorpe Park School.
  • Many become outstanding ambassadors for the school as they work in their local communities to raise funds for the charity.
  • For our students there is always a revelatory moment when they see for themselves the results of their fundraising in the community projects they visit in Sri Lanka.
  • Recent Calthorpe Park student groups have been able to visit a newly built preschool and an amazing playground for which they raised funds

Students going to Sri Lanka


  • Calthorpe Park students learn for themselves that people live quite differently from themselves in Sri Lanka, but have fun and build strong relationships throughout the trip
  • Our students are able to use their skills and talents in new and exciting ways and even discover things that they never knew they were so good at
  • Through fundraising and travelling together, our students bond with one another and share lifelong friendships
  • Many of our students are so impacted by the Ocean Stars experience that they want to continue to give back to Sri Lanka, working in NGOs and other community projects
  • Out students have opportunities to learn about all aspects of Ocean stars through visits to community projects during the trip
  • Students are able to see the contribution made by volunteering adults in Team 2, and gain an understanding of the contribution made by adults on the trip
  • Students develop an understanding of the history, culture and geography of Sri Lanka and are able to share this with their friends and family on returning home
  • Students build friendships with Sri Lankan students which they are able to maintain and develop through social media

Impact on UK staff

  • UK staff have an amazing opportunity to engage their students in projects which are radically different from what usually takes place in school
  • Staff are able to extend their own learning, developing new activities which engage Sri Lankan students without the need for significant oral instruction
  • Staff return from each trip highly motivated to engage their own students in fundraising and in planning activities for the next trip
  • Staff are able to extend and develop their own continuing professional development through their involvement with the trip
  • Staff have opportunities simultaneously to promote our school and Ocean Stars in locally organised community events
  • Staff have opportunities to develop their ability to work with students with particular needs, such as the hearing impaired community
  • Staff are able to learn how education systems work in another county, they are able to bring back and share the things they have learnt from their time in Sri Lankan classrooms
  • Staff are able to use their own talents and skills in different ways and work with Sri Lankan students who are always so keen to grasp every opportunity which is afforded to them
  • Staff are able to develop meaningful and continuing friendships with their counterparts in Sri Lankan schools
  • Staff are able to encourage their students in developing communication and relationship building skills in more meaningful ways





Grace's Children's Home Impact Stories

What difference has the support Ocean Stars Trust has given Grace's Children's Home made?

Naomi Booth :: Monday 11th May 2020 :: This Story

Thusanthan's Story

I am 22 years old. I was born during the war and I have two brothers. My father died during the war and I lived in a camp for displaced people in Vavuniya with my mother and brothers. Life got very difficult at the camp so my mother went to India with my two brothers. I went to live in Grace Children's Home in Vavuniya when I was 4 years old.

We were looked after by Mrs Nadarajah who was like my mother. There were 30 boys in the Home and we all called her Amma which means mother. She looked after all our needs and often worked alone without any help cooking for us and made sure the Children's was home was a home for us.

In 2005 Dilanee visited us at Grace Children's Home for the first time. She talked to us, did activities with us and came to church with us. This was the beginning of Dilanee and Ocean Stars in my life. Dilanee visited us twice a year even during the war when it was difficult to come to Vavuniya.

Thusanthan

 

Thusanthan 2

Every October Ocean Stars visited us with about 10 volunteers. They did activities, games, craft work with us. They gave us presents and growing up October was Christmas for myself and the other boys. We used to look forward to October and the Ocean Stars team visiting.

Their visits made me feel very happy. I felt cared for and supported by Ocean Stars growing up at Grace Children's home. Without my own family, Mrs Nadarajah and Ocean Stars supported me and gave me hope growing up.

I did my O' Levels, A Levels and I did a Diploma in Commerce. I did a temporary job for the government. I sat some government exams and then got the job working for the railways as Station Master.  I love my job. There is a lot of training and I earn a good wage around RS 35,000 a month. I work 6 days a week and my job involves travelling to Colombo often.

Ocean Stars has played a huge part in my life. Even after I left Grace they have been in touch with me and come and visit me regularly.

Thusanthan age 22


Stephen, Sasikumar, Seeveras, Kiruba & Vinod

We all grew up at Grace Children's Home with Mrs Nadarajah and the help and support of Ocean Stars Trust. Dilanee from Ocean Stars was like our second mother. We always looked forward to Ocean Stars Team arriving every October. They bought us new clothes, shoes, toiletries and did lots of sports with us. 

On her second visit Dilanee and Ocean Stars bought 30 mattresses for our beds. We had never slept on a mattress. Ocean Stars gave us hope and supported us when we were growing up. This gave us the chance to study and do our exams.

We all live in Vavuniya and we have got jobs as construction workers, engineers, bankers and carpenters.

We still keep in touch with Ocean Stars through Social Media. Even though we are now working Dilanee still visits us every October.

We are very thankful to Ocean Stars for bringing light and hope and happiness to our lives and making our childhood experience a happy one.

Picture: /files/latest-news/388/w288/2005-graces-childrens-home.jpg
2005
Picture: /files/latest-news/388/w288/2017-graces-childrens-home.jpg
2017










Impact of Ocean Stars on a UK Volunteer

Read Natalia Lopez's Story

Naomi Booth :: Monday 11th May 2020 :: This Story

 

NataliaAfter the Tsunami hit the southeast of Sri-Lanka, I was devastated by the amount of lives destroyed, not only by the personal injuries, parents and children disappearance, but by the wreckage that it was left behind.

I felt I needed to do something about it and decided to sponsor a few children and spread the word. They can do so much with such a small contribution! The most import thing to me was the fact that I knew that every penny was going to my children, nothing stayed on the way in the form of admin, marketing etc as many of the large charities do.

Two years ago, I decided to visit the area with OST. I was overwhelmed! There are no words to express the feeling when I met my sponsored children. Seeing pictures of them growing from young children to accomplished young adults and knowing that I contributed to rebuild their lives! There is not feeling quite like it.

OST has improved the quality of so many families. Thirteen years on and there is still so much to do.

There is a great feeling of satisfaction when you know you have helped to rebuild shattered lives.

I will always be grateful and proud to be a small part of the OST family.  





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