Where to start...

OceanStars :: Saturday 1st November 2008 :: This Story

Where to start? So many experiences crammed into the space of 10 days!

Highlights for me? Too many to mention, but arriving at the playgroup in Trinco, seeing the children lined up to present us with garlands made from shells was very special for me. Although I have been part of Ocean Stars since the beginning, back in January 2005, this was my first trip out here, so for me all those evenings spent sitting in Fleet discussing funding and projects had finally come to life!

We have spent the last 10 days immersed in Sri Lankan life and culture. It has been an incredible experience, the warmth and hospitality of all the people we have met has at times overwhelmed us. They have welcomed us into their homes and taken us to their hearts. Their generosity of spirit has been second to none.

It has been a very busy time with very long days, early mornings and lots of travelling but to see the smiling faces of the children we have been working with has made it all fade into insignificance. To see them relax, smile and laugh with us made every 5.30am start more than worthwhile. We watched them take pleasure from the simplest of things, and heard them squeal with laughter despite the fact that they are not blessed with life’s luxuries, and sometimes barely life’s necessities.

There have of course inevitably been some very sad, emotional moments, hearing heartbreaking firsthand accounts of the tsunami, visiting families living in single room tin shacks – and yet these people still manage to smile!

I think we have all agreed that that this is a land of contrasts – walking on an idyllic beach looking across the road at the destruction wrought by the tsunami, which still remains and swimming in the sea at sunrise watching armed soldiers patrolling along the beach.

It has been a truly all encompassing and absorbing experience – a complete sensory overload! I don’t think any of us will forget the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of Sri Lanka and it has certainly touched our hearts and will stay with us for a very long time.