Busy time visiting projects in April!

Founder Dilanee and Chair John visited almost all OST activity in April and found all projects pretty shipshape and in good order.

OceanStars :: Friday 8th May 2015 :: This Story

John and Dilanee and the new pre-school building

Let's divide it into 3 phases.

Phase 1 was the long trek to the North of the island to the Mahadeva Achchirama Children's Home in Kilinochchi. Here under the guiding hand of Chairman Mr Rasanayagam some 400 children are being nurtured. OST had provided funds for a second classroom for the burgeoning numbers of pre-school children. A lavish Opening Ceremony was laid on in our honour, with speeches and colourful dancing, and we left in good heart, knowing that we had contributed more to this needed safe haven for young people.

Phase 2 took us southeastewards to Trincomalee. Our colleague on the ground Janapdeen took us to the Vellamainail playgroup and we took some new photos of the many sponsor children there. A very happy bunch of pre-school children here, splendid in their tartan uniforms and OST shirts. At Janapdeen's lunch we had a fascinating talk about the present political situation in Sri Lanka, since the change of government. best to get it from the horse's mouth!

Phase 3, and next, and our longest stop, in Batticaloa. It was coming up to schools' closure, because of the Sri Lankan New Year, but we had time to visit a new Secondary Partner School for Calthorpe Park School, the partner school of Connaught School, Bagshot (delighted with their gift of lighting for the school), and one or two playgroups, including formally opening one of these - the Barathi - which we had just helped to complete.  Our Ocean Stars Lanka team, Diana, Bavan and all, had also assembled a number of people here to receive gifts from our Catalogue. To add to the two boats we'd donated in Trincomalee, we gave another to a family in Batticaloa: also lined up for us to present were a number of sewing machines, chickens, and bicycles.  We thank our donors in the UK for being so generous to make real differences to these families.

The OST projects in North and Eastern Sri Lanka are therefore, we can report, in good health. It is clear however that there are further calls on our generosity: sponsoring a teacher, securing funds to rebuild a delapidated pre-school building, and ever more children in need of sponsors.

Our workers, children and teachers are all looking forward to the next visit in October!

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Pre-school roomsFamilies

 

Group PhotoNew boat

Tsunami charity's Star still rises, 10 years after tragedy

A Fleet charity formed in response to the devastating tsunami that claimed more than 30,000 lives in Sri Lanka, is all set to celebrate its tenth anniversary.

OceanStars :: Saturday 4th April 2015 :: This Story

Fleet Charity Ocean Stars

The Ocean Stars Trust (OST) will mark the special milestone in its short but momentous history with a fundraising party on Saturday March 21.

Sponsors, supporters and friends of OST will look back on the decade since the charity was founded in the wake of the tragic Indian Ocean tsunami of Boxing Day 2004.

Devastation of 2005 Tsumami Working with children in Sri Lanka for 10-years

Dilanee Bunter, who was born in Sri Lanka and now lives in Fleet, was determined to 'give something back' after the disaster, which killed around 35,000 people and displaced around 500,000.

She collected money, along with 50 pairs of children's shoes, from friends and family to take to her homeland in Easter 2005.

Some of the devastation that greeted Dilanee Bunter on her visit to Sri Lanka in 2005 following the Boxing Day tsunami

By the spring of that year, with the help of people in the Fleet area, the Ocean Stars Trust was born with a board of around seven trustees who had the continuing mandate to 'rebuild shattered lives'.

With a special focus on education and children in eastern Sri Lanka, the trust set up a child sponsorship scheme and a programme of supporting and building new pre-schools where previously none existed.

In 2013, OST also began a cultural exchange for pupils from Fleet's Calthorpe Park School, while several links have also been formed between infant, junior and secondary schools.

Mrs Bunter said: "From very small and innocent beginnings, Ocean Stars Trust is now a leading Sri Lanka-based charity. This has only been achieved with the hard work of trustees and enormous goodwill of friends and supporters."

Full Artical by By Stephen Lloyd 07:52, 17 March 2015   

10 Years Post Tsumani Remembrance Event

Ocean Stars were invited mark 10 Years Post Tsumani Remembrance Event at Sri Lanka High Commission In London

OceanStars :: Monday 16th March 2015 :: This Story

Dilanee Bunter from Ocean Stars Trust was invited to the Sri Lanka High Commission in London on 26.1.15 to join in an event to mark the passing of 10 years since the Tsunami that hit Sri Lanka on Boxing Day 2004.

Ocean Stars was also invited to submit photographs to show the work done by the charity since it was set up in March 2005.

Ocean Stars Display in the Sri Lanka High Commission London Dilanee in the Sri Lanka High Commission London

The event was attended by several dignitaries from UK charities. The event began with the traditional lighting of the Sri Lanka lamp by VIP guests. Then there were religious speakers from the four faiths of Sri Lanka Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian. This was followed by moving speeches from people who had survived the tsunami in Sri Lanka. At the end there was a film showing the after math of the tsunami and all the work that has gone on post tsunami to 2015.

During the evening Dilanee met Cherie Blair and Rob Forkan from Gandi flip flops.

Dilanee & Cherie Blair in the Sri Lanka High Commission London The Sri Lanka High Commission London

It was certainly an honour for Ocean Stars Trust to be invited to such a prestigious event.

Pancakes for Ocean Stars

Pancake day (Shrove Tuesday) was a beautiful crisp Spring morning that fell in half term this year.

OceanStars :: Tuesday 10th March 2015 :: This Story

The Pre school group therefore were not meeting so it was an opportunity not to be overlooked to hold a Pancake and coffee morning in the Methodist church .

As usual we sent out publicity , uncertain of the response... ...

However, we should not have had any concerns over what the outcome would be -we had a superb turnout of folk who were most generous not only in their giving but in their patient waiting for their pancake! We were VERY busy having to make fresh batter mixture even though we had a reserve mix made up! We do apologise if you were one of those who had to wait - lessons were learned, so thank you for your understanding!


Ready for PancakesPancake helper
Once again we are made aware that the finances for the work of Ocean Stars is being provided - we just need to be open and available and we shall learn of the difference it makes to young lives.  We give thanks for the hope and joy we can share with them.

Pancake guestsMore batter needed

Newsletter

Our December Newsletter is now available - Download it here

OceanStars :: Thursday 22nd January 2015 :: This Story

Download the full Newsletter

Ocean Stars Trust will be 10 years old on the 26 January 2015. Over the last 10 years OST has worked tirelessly to rebuild shat-tered lives of children and families in Sri Lanka. When I look back over the last decade I am left with a feeling of awe and wonderment at how Ocean Stars has evolved and how so many people in the UK, Sri Lanka and the world have been brought together to work to make a difference to the lives of so many people in Sri Lanka. A strength of Ocean Stars is the emphasis it puts on relationships and in what now has become an Ocean Stars family. People who become involved with Ocean Stars in what ever capacity al-ways comment on how much they feel loved and cared for, and how their lives have been en-riched by the people they meet. “People have so little but they give us so much”, is often said by visitors to OST projects.

Sponsorship schemes are an aspect of our work that really makes an impact on families. When I see UK sponsors meet their sponsor child and witness the warmth and gratitude ex-pressed to them I realise the true value of the work we do. If £10 per month will help a young person pass exams and go onto University or work then we have rebuilt a shattered life and given a family hope for the future. A whole generation of children have grown up with support from UK sponsors. I would like to thank all our sponsors - some of you have been with us for 10 years - for your continued sup-port for our work. We are always looking for sponsors, so if you feel you are able to donate £10 per month please get in touch with us using the contact infor-mation above.

OST enables children in rural com-munities to access pre-school education—this is a major part of our work. We work with 16 pre- schools in the north and east of Sri Lanka and reach out to more than 600 children. Bringing laughter and a morning of creative activities, songs, bubbles, parachutes, the Hokey-Cokey, has become routine for team who visit our playgroups annually.

I would like to wish you all a Very Happy and Peaceful Christmas and New Year 2015.

10th anniversary of the Tsunami

A service of remembrance for the 10th anniversary of the Tsunami on Boxing Day 2014.

OceanStars :: Thursday 22nd January 2015 :: This Story

Tree Flowers

Ocean Stars Trust Trustees Dilanee and Maureen attended a Remembrance Service for the victims of the Boxing Day Tsunami 2004. It took place around the tree Prunus Autumnalis which was planted at North Camp Methodist Church for the victims of the Tsunami. Rev David Jebb who was Minister at the church at the time of the Tsunami lost 12 members of his family

 Tsunami Memorial ServiceTsunami Memorial Service

This plant was chosen because it blossoms in December coinciding with the anniversary of the Tsunami which hit Sri Lanka’s shore 10 years ago.

Download the service sheet.

Tsunami Memorial ServiceTsunami Memorial Service

Tsunami Memorial Service

Grim Challenge

On the 7th December

OceanStars :: Thursday 22nd January 2015 :: This Story

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A small group of us braved the cold and wet to complete the 8 mile off road Grim Challenge across some army land in Aldershot. The first two miles were an easy jog then we encountered hills, mud and deep, freezing water which some people threw themselves in! Later we came across logs, tyres and more deep water which we waded through, it was all good fun, if not a bit chilly but a great way to raise a bit of money!

Grim challenge for Ocean Stars Trust

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All packed and ready to go!

In less than 48 hours the Calthorpe Park School group will be leaving rainy England for (hopefully) a sunny Sri Lanka!

OceanStars :: Wednesday 22nd October 2014 :: This Story

Keep up with all their news and thoughts at:

http://oceanstarsteam2014.blogspot.co.uk/

The Barefoot Experience

Walking with Philip, the OST response...

OceanStars :: Sunday 7th September 2014 :: This Story

be-the-step.jpgbarefootThe Barefoot Billion experience…it has certainly been one! Having spent many a day trying to find Philip in various parts of the country, walking with him through both thick mud & rain & glorious sunshine, having helped to clean & tape up his injuries, having watched & listened to him reciting poetry along the way (Glastonbury Abbey, Stanton Harcourt Manor, Oxford, Hay on Wye) & having seen him light up a school hall full of children with his words at the end of a hard day’s walking, it felt only right to be there in Wales for the final few steps of the 1000 miles - such an incredible undertaking! We walked barefoot with Philip on one day & it was only too clear how challenging it was, having to watch every step & be aware of every kind of surface along the way (we didn’t last long!)

Barefoot Philip The final day on Anglesey (9th August) proved to be sunny & warm & filled with laughter. As Philip walked the final few steps across the Menai Bridge to cross the finish line, everyone was filled with a sense of elation on his behalf. When he set out on his challenge on April 22nd I think many of us had our doubts whether he could actually complete the full distance & spend four months walking but how wrong we were. He seemed to become stronger as the walk progressed, inspired by poetry & the cause close to his heart – raising awareness & money for the barefoot billion children around the world.

It was an honour & a pleasure to be a small part of Philip’s adventure & to be there at the end to witness him achieve his goal, surrounded by family & friends.

Jo Barton (Ost trustee)

It began in the centre of London, Somerset House.  Philip headed off towards Westminster Bridge followed by a troupe of children.  Early barefoot steps, lots of energy….but just a hint of nervous tension.  There was a long road ahead.

A few days later he began his barefoot trek in earnest, leaving Land’s End in Cornwall.  The early days were very difficult.  Rough, stony paths, snakes in the grass, gout!!  By the time we joined him towards the end of May he had reached Glastonbury.  I remember that first evening well – he was tired, his feet were blistered; every step was painful.  I did wonder  if he would make it. However, I hadn’t properly reckoned on just what passion, inner strength Philip could and would call upon.  A couple of days later as we walked with him, literally pulling our boot clad feet from the mud in Wiltshire, I saw evidence of his deep resolve to make this journey.  His feet were cut and the plasters, which had been applied to try and give his skin some protection, were failing miserably to do their job.  But he just kept going. His pace was slow as he hauled himself up muddy banks and then slithered downwards.  We ended that day in Wells cathedral, sitting together in silence, reflecting on our day and remembering the Barefoot Billion whose plight Philip constantly sought to highlight.  It was at that point, as Dilanee noted so well, that there was a sense that we were part of something much bigger than ourselves. Something which stretched beyond our immediate world and linked us again to our children in Sri Lanka and the millions elsewhere who live barefoot and in poverty.

barefoot summer In subsequent weeks Philip gained strength. He became fitter, his feet hardened, the weather improved.  We enjoyed great days hiking with him through Avebury, along the Thames towpath into Oxford and around Tetbury. We listened as he engaged and inspired schoolchildren with the Barefoot message during their Friday afternoon assembly.  And we sat with him in the sunshine at Stanton Harcourt, his family home, and listened as he recited some of his own poems. He shared with us memories from his childhood, recalling the influence and inspiration of family members who encouraged him to grow and become the fire poet that he is today.

It all ended when he crossed the Menai Bridge into Anglesey, Wales. A walk of a thousand miles barefoot complete.  We celebrated in a pub garden – he was exhausted, a stone lighter  but relieved and delighted.  Job done!!  The ‘Barefoot’ message had been carried across the country.  He spoke briefly, encouraging us all to continue to ‘Bthe step’ on behalf of the Barefoot community across our world. And he thanked us. I’m not quite sure why for our thanks are due to him for allowing us to join with him and be part of the ‘Barefoot’ experience.

So on behalf of the Ost MoJo and all of us at Ocean Stars – Thank you Philip!!

Maureen Johnston (Ost trustee)

barefoot mo jo barefoot end

Ocean Stars Trust do 'Fitcamp'!

Last Wednesday 27th September the Ocean Stars team got sporty!

OceanStars :: Sunday 7th September 2014 :: This Story

The amazing Taurofit team, founded by Ross Potter, kindly donated one of their unique but intense outdoor fitness sessions known as 'Fitcamp' to Ocean Stars Trust.  

With a great turnout, Ross led the team in a brutal circuit session, followed by assisted squats and the infamous Taurofit 'tunnel of love'.  After a group selfie to finish the session, the team went home on a high and an amazing £95 was raised for Ocean Stars Trust.

A massive thank you to Ross Potter of Taurofit for such a great evening.

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