Driving digital literary in Sri Lanka

by Jo Webber Social Media Director and Marketing Director

Naomi Booth :: Tuesday 20th November 2018 :: This Story


Combining Jo's love of travelling with her passion for digital media, this time her journey took her to the "Noble Island" of Sri Lanka. Inspired by a previous trip to Ghana, Africa in 2011 where she had taught secondary school children in Keta, as part of the Kutu Project. This goal was to drive digital literacy in schools.

Thus, she knew that when she booked my tour of Sri Lanka that having the opportunity to educate school children on the same subject would be a top priority. She had the opportunity to meet Ocean Stars Trust Founder Dilanee Bunter on Facebook (of course!) She liaised with her team mate Janabdeen at the (full name of the school) in Trincomalee, in the North Eastern Province, an area badly affected by the recent tsunami. This was a community keen to rebuild itself, and driven by Sri Lanka's national pride in education and driving all-round intellectual achievement. 

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Arriving at the school in the morning, Jo met Janabdeen and the school principal. The children seemed excited and motivated to see a fresh face. From there, they went into the classroom to complete introductions in a mixture of English and local language Tamil.

From there, Jo ran through a presentation explaining more of her background in digital media (13 years now, having completed a 4 plus year tenure at Google whilst working in London). Subsequently, they ran through statistics on digital adoption in Sri Lanka and the types of social media platforms actively engaged with plus and the most popular websites in the country.

Finally, it was time to complete an activity. The classroom of 30 children was divided into groups of five. Next, confronted with questions they hadn't been asked before, but were super motivated to brainstorm:

  • What type of business would you like to build, and why?
  • Which members of your teams will hold which function?
  • How do you plan to market to your customers i.e seasonal discounts?
  • What are your core objectives?

A cacophony of furtive noise ensued. The ideation scribbles on pieces of paper. The sense that they could achieve something collectively where shared knowledge was applied. Janabdeen and Jo mentored the children in their groups and then it was time for presentations. This was clearly far outside the comfort zones, but finally, two group winners were announced. One male and one female group discussing their business ideas around a seashell business, and an online marketplace business.

Jo had bought several computer and mobile phone gifts from Germany, where she is currently living (though originally from London).

Whilst an all-around educational curriculum is an important cornerstone for many children in this region, and in all the schools we work with, it is imperative for those children wishing to pursue a business (in various industries) to have a sense of how the internet works, how to generate sales and, crucially, stand up and be counted in today's digital era. This was a welcome step in the right direction.

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Jo Webber November 2018

 If you are interested in volunteering in Sri Lanka,

Contact Dilanee

Training Day Success

Over 80 teachers attended an all island teacher training for Ocean Stars Preschool staff held in Batticaloa on Friday 26 October.

Naomi Booth :: Thursday 1st November 2018 :: This Story

Picture: /files/latest-news/323/w288/ost-training-day.jpgOne teacher who has been teaching for 32 years said that this is the first training session she has been to and thanked Ocean Stars for giving them this opportunity.

Volunteers Arrive

10 volunteers ready for their adventure in Sri Lanka

Naomi Booth :: Wednesday 17th October 2018 :: This Story

Picture: /files/latest-news/322/w288/ost-volunteers.jpgPicture: /files/latest-news/322/w288/ost-10-volunteers.jpg10 volunteers arrive safely in Sri Lanka. They will spend the next 12 days visiting Ocean Stars projects in Sri Lanka.

Resources being packed

1000 kilos of resources have been packed ready for Calthorpe Park School Trip

Naomi Booth :: Tuesday 16th October 2018 :: This Story

1Picture: /files/latest-news/321/w288/ost-packing.jpg000 kilos of resources have been packed ready for the 21 students and 4 staff travelling with Calthorpe Park School Fleet, to take to Sri Lanka.

They will be visiting their link schools and preschools which are run by Ocean Stars Trust charity based here in the UK.

Teacher Training in Batti

Our preschool teachers have been signing up for our upcoming teacher training day

Naomi Booth :: Friday 12th October 2018 :: This Story

Picture: /files/latest-news/320/w288/ost-teacher-training.jpgAilidh , Ocean Stars Intern holding our Teacher Training booklet.

Over 60 teachers have signed up to attend our Teacher Training day for preschool teachers on Friday 26 October in Batticaloa Sri Lanka.


Avonbourne Trust students

helping Sri Lankan children reach for the stars...

Naomi Booth :: Wednesday 26th September 2018 :: This Story

Picture: /files/latest-news/319/w288/avonbourne-sri-lanka-4.jpgStudents from Avonbourne Trust are showing that an ocean apart is no distance when it comes to helping fellow young people in need.

Avonbourne Trust has adopted a new charity to support, Ocean Stars Trust.

The charity was set up to help Sri Lankan communities devastated by the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami and 2009 civil war by helping the country's young people through education.

Avonbourne kicked off its support by sending a delegation of staff and students – headed up by the Trust's CEO Picture: /files/latest-news/319/w288/avonbourne-sri-lanka-1.jpgDebbie Godfrey-Phaure - to volunteer at the charity's Sri Lankan schools.

Debbie said: "We are absolutely delighted to be adopting Ocean Stars Trust as our charity, especially after witnessing first-hand the tremendous work they are doing in Sri Lanka.

"It is particularly powerful that the charity believes passionately, like us, that education is key to empowering children to a brighter future.

"Our time in Sri Lanka was so special that I know that for all of us lucky enough to be on the trip the memories we created there will last for ever."

During the summer holidays seven Year 11 and 13 students and four Avonbourne staff members spent five days in the regions of Batticaloa and Trincomalee, where communities have been affected by both the Tsunami and civil war.

While in the Ocean Stars' schools, the Avonbourne students led lessons with the pupils, which varied from parachute games with a group of under 5s right through to teaching ballet moves to around 80 boys.

The Avonbourne teachers also got stuck in by leading on a number of activities from painting the classrooms to forging links with the schools that will now become Avonbourne Trust partners.

During their stay the Avonbourne delegation saw how empty patches of land once belonging to families swept away by the Tsunami are fenced off and kept available in case the owners return.

They also met a local headteacher who, during the civil war, was shot in both legs on his way into school. Despite his obvious physical pain he still had a passion for his school and pupils.

Picture: /files/latest-news/319/w288/avonbourne-sri-lanka-2.jpgAnd a highlight of the trip was witnessing the official opening of a new playground in one of the Ocean Stars' pre-schools. All of the equipment had been paid for by donations to the charity.

Student, Lydia, said: "Our trip to Sri Lanka has shown us how much we have and what we take for granted. It has made us appreciate the little things more and made friendships closer.

"The short time we had with the children has had a long-lasting impact on both them and us. Seeing how little they have and knowing that we have made them happier is very fulfilling."

Prior to the visit the Avonbourne group gained sponsorship to pay for the trip and raised several hundred pounds to buy equipment for the pre-schools and schools they visited.

Ocean Stars was set up by Dilanee Bunter, a Sri Lankan woman living in the UK, who was moved to action after the 2004 tsunami.

Alongside the 20 schools that it runs, it also supports a wide range of projects across Sri Lanka, with a special interest in children's education, particularly pre-school children where there is little government support.

Dilanee Bunte said: "Following a very successful visit to our projects in Sri Lanka I am delighted that Avonbourne is officially adopting Ocean Stars Trust as its charity.

"Avonbourne is now linked with three schools in underprivileged areas in Eastern Sri Lanka where our charity empowers children through education.

"Students from both countries find the visit to the link schools life changing. The children in Sri Lanka have so little in the way of material things but give us so much through friendship."

Avonbourne Trust and its four academies are planning a number of fundraising initiatives throughout the year to continue its support for Ocean Stars Trust.

600 Teddies Ready

The teddies will be given out to the children who attend Ocean Stars Preschools.

Naomi Booth :: Thursday 20th September 2018 :: This Story

Picture: /files/latest-news/318/w288/3a7a6576-5818-4974-b6aa-8456a2b3a05d.jpg600 teddies  are ready and waiting to travel to Sri Lanka in Octob                                      er 2018.

A group of 35 volunteers will be going to Sri Lanka to volunteer at Ocean Stars projects.

The teddies will be given out to the children who attend Ocean Stars Preschools. For many children the only toy they will ever have.

Thank you to all our knitters for bringing a smile to children' s faces.

Thoughts from Avonbourne School

Students from Avonbourne reflect on their trip

Naomi Booth :: Thursday 13th September 2018 :: This Story



So far, the trip has been an amazing experience I have really enjoyed working with the children as it was lovely to see how excited they got over the activities we did with them and small things such as bubbles and stickers. We visited an elephant safari which was amazing where we were able to see a very wide range of amazing wildlife such as elephants, buffalos and deer. I am really looking forward to continuing working in the schools.


The start of this trip has been amazing. It has been really interesting seeing a different culture and seeing new things. Everyone we've met has been so friendly and the children were very welcoming. It was lovely to see how happy even the smallest things made them. I am excited for the next few days and meeting more of them and learning more about their lives.

Megan F

Our first day arriving in Sri Lanka was an eye-opener to what the rest of our trip would consist of. We were welcomed with friendly faces that were willing to participate in our journey alongside Ocean Stars Trust. Although the heat is something we're not used to in the UK, the fun activities have enabled us to forget about how hot it is slightly. The elephant orphanage, tea plantation, temples and safari are memories that we are going to treasure and never forget. Our first day in the link school with the children was an experience. It enabled us to have an insight into their culture and everyday lives. Everyone was so willing, friendly and welcoming.In Sri Lanka


So far this trip has shown me many experiences such as the life and culture, the tourist attractions that are available; like a safari, elephant orphanage and tea plantation, and also the students. I think that volunteering in the schools today has been beyond amazing and I've realised how they have so little but so much more happiness than us. The energy in the classrooms was incredible and I look forward to making many more memories like today over the next week.


During this trip, I've really enjoyed all the once in a lifetime opportunities such as seeing elephants, monkeys and a range of more animals native to Sri Lanka. Whilst teaching it has been an eye opening experience seeing how grateful the children are for little things such as bubbles and even high fives! I can't wait for the next days to come to teach more children and get to know them and their lifestyle.

Games in Sri Lanka


I've really enjoyed every moment teaching in these schools and experiencing what their lifestyle and culture is like. The tourist parts of the trip have been exciting and an eye-opener. I've learnt so much and now begin to understand how the charity is helping the schools develop in order to educate. The students at the school are welcoming and energetic as they give everything a go and aren't shy. It made me realise that they appreciate the smallest things that we at home take for granted. It'll be something I'll never forget.

Volunteering in Sri Lanka


It was lovely to see the excitement and huge smiles on the faces of the children today and their gratitude for the receipt of simple presents and stickers etc. Our students also enjoyed the experience and personally I feel very proud to have been part of the process that has put the two groups together. It is tragic that this region suffered so much devastation but it is also a testament to the resilience and compassion of fellow human beings that this is a place of growth and, often, considerable joy even though the landscape never lets you forget the legacy of the tsunami.

Anon #1

Today was quite magical. To see the expressions of delight on the faces of both the Sri Lankan students and the Avonbourne volunteers clearly showed how rewarding the experience was for all. To teach these wonderful young children was a privilege and a lesson in itself. They were so very happy playing simple playground games and engaging in things like colouring that it made us all stop and think about what we take for granted in our daily lives. This trip is more than an experience it is the beginning of a journey where through reflection we will hopefully become better than we were before.

School in Sri Lanka

Anon #2

We have had an amazing couple of days touring around and enjoying stunning scenery, sampling tea, learning about herbs and spices, visiting the spectacular Kandy temple and eating a wide variety of curries. The wildlife safari was truly stunning – sea eagles, water buffalo, elephants and their young, chameleons and monkeys to name but a few. Now we have arrived in Batti and have spent the day working with two schools in an area which suffered far-reaching effects of the Tsunami and the civil war. A truly humbling experience seeing how these children live and how few resources they have. In spite of this, they were all friendly and welcoming and excited by our visit.

School in Sri Lanka

Anon #3

I really enjoyed teaching in the schools today, all of the children were so welcoming. It was eye-opening because the children were so enthusiastic and valued the time we spent with them despite having so little. The parachute games were a highlight for me as all of the kids got involved. It was nice to see them so excited and happy. I feel really grateful for all I have at home as these children don't have the luxuries that I do. Also, I enjoyed the safari, seeing the elephants in the wild was amazing.

Calthorpe Students Getting Ready

Read how their preparations are coming along...

Naomi Booth :: Thursday 13th September 2018 :: This Story


Jack Haddock
Really excited all sorted out, just need to get some sharpeners. Buying some last-minute clothes and I am really excited to go!

Oliver Rix
I am really excited and ready to go. I can not wait! 35 days!

Ella Hodges
I feel happier now that we went over the packing and flight. I'm excited even more because of this.

Thomas Aves
Can't believe it's only 35 days! Looking forward to going.

Jack Woodley
I'm very excited about the trip with just over a month away it will be amazing. The trip should hopefully live up to my expectation. Can't wait.

Student ready for Sri Lanka trip

Molly Wakley
36 days to go! I'm so so excited and I'm feeling fairly prepared so that is good. Just need to pack now!

Beattie Horan-Jennings
I'm really excited about the trip, can't wait! I'm really looking forward to spending time with everyone and experiencing the Sri Lankan culture.

Pippa Campbell
I'm super excited now it's getting so close 35 days it finally feels real I can't wait

Ella Waldron
I'm ready to go. I'll start packing soon. I need to think more about fundraising. I can't wait to eat white rice. It's going to be really fun and it feels like its still months away. 35 days to go!

Molly Fowler
Really looking forward to going to Sri Lanka and can't wait to go.

Amy Whiting
It's getting really close to leaving now! Only 35 days! We got our t-shirts and hoodies today which was very exciting! Our fundraising is going very well as we are over £10,000 now.

Charlotte Staples
I am so excited only one meeting left, today we got our hoodies and t-shirts and I am so happy with our total, I am more than ready to go now!

Imogen Scutter
I'm feeling very, very excited and it's 35 days away. We have got our tops and jumpers. We are just getting the last few bits for our activities! 35 days!

Shaheen Gurung
Now there are 35 days. Its crazy how close the trip is, I still have so much to do and I'm even more excited. I can't wait to go to the schools and to go to the hotels and go see the elephants. I also need to try to pack lightly. I'm also thinking of bringing sheet masks but I don't think I have enough for everyone...

Katie White
In today's meeting, we finalised everything. 35 days now and we have raised £11,000. We are so excited and cannot wait till we go!

Freya Innes
Whoop whoop! Yay! Let's go! Go to remember that I PACKED MY BAG and NOBODY PUT ANYTHING IN IT. Arrgh 35 days to go LET'S GO!!

Robyn Scott
35 days until we go! I have lots of last-minute fundraising to raise some money! It still seems like a lot of work with packing and stuff. I'm excited for the elephants as soon as we get into Sri Lanka! I'm also excited to get on the plane with my friends!

Luke Whiting
Now it's getting really close my constantly evolving lesson plan will have to stabilize. This is what I'm nervous about. But overall it's only excitement remaining.

Keira Etherington-Smith
We have now sorted out the packing situation and we are only 35 days away from leaving for Sri Lanka and I am getting more and more excited as the weeks go by. I am still most excited to see and feed the elephants and also to be able to fly with my friends on the plane.

New Intern for OST

Ocean Stars wishes Ailidh Watson a warm welcome as she starts her post as OST intern next week.

Naomi Booth :: Friday 7th September 2018 :: This Story

Picture: /files/latest-news/315/w288/ost-new-intern.jpgOcean Stars wishes Ailidh Watson a warm welcome as she starts her post as OST intern next week.

Ailidh has completed a degree in Politics and International Relations and would eventually like to work in the Charity sector.

She is looking forward to learning all about the work of Ocean Stars Trust.