Day 11

Naomi Booth :: Sunday 29th October 2023 :: This Story

Today 30 volunteers made there way back to the UK on various different flights. The Calthorpe Park Team and Dilanee arrived back at 7pm on Sunday 29th October evening. They were welcomed with banners and balloons by all the families at Heathrow Airport. It was a wonderful welcome for us all. Thank you to all the parents for this amazing welcome.

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The OSL Team travelled back to Batticlaoa from Colombo by train. This is an 8-hour train ride across Sri Lanka and they arrived back at 10 pm.

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Planning has already begun for our 2024 October trips. If you would like to be part of our Teams visiting Ocean Stars projects in Sri Lanka then please contact us :

A huge thank you to all members of our 2023 October visit Teams for all your hard work and bringing untold joy and happiness to thousands of children in Sri Lanka. You are all Stars.

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Day 10

Final day in Colombo

Naomi Booth :: Saturday 28th October 2023 :: This Story

The final day of our trip has been spent in Colombo. Our teams have been visiting temples, seeing the sights of Colombo, shopping for gifts to take home and relaxing by the pool. Julie and Scarlett visited the Methodist Church in Kollupitiya .

The day ended with our final trip meeting. The whole team involved in the trip were there so around 40 people. A friend of Dilanee's called Yasmin came to this meeting and met all the volunteers.

It has been a truly amazing 10 days. The impact the teams have left on the communities they visited is immeasurable. The following numbers of children and families have connected with a team member over the last 10 days.

  • 5 link schools: 5000 + children
  • Preschools visited by the teams: 1000 students and families
  • Sponsorship evening: 170 students and parents
  • Variety Show: 1000 + students and families
  • All 40 members of the trip team will be leaving Colombo tomorrow and going back home.

Goodbye beautiful Sri Lanka. You will always be in our hearts.

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Our last day - today we had a tour around Colombo and some shopping. Unfortunately, I've also got a chest infection so had a visit to the hospital to get some antibiotics. So it's been a quiet day.

We had an end farewell meeting with everyone involved on the trip. It was great hearing everyone's thoughts and how sad we feel to be leaving Sri Lanka. We leave the hotel in an hour - 11 pm for a 2:30 am flight and will be home by 8:30 am Sunday morning - 11 hour flight.

This last week and a half has been amazing. I'm so sad to be leaving; but hopefully I'll be back next year. Xx

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Day 9

Tsunami Village Visit and more...

Naomi Booth :: Friday 27th October 2023 :: This Story

So we have woken up to our departure day from Batti. Bags packed and loaded on to the coach mini bus and  car. Calthorpe Park Team 2023 are going to visit the Tsunami village and in particular, a friend called Fatima who they met several years ago. Fatima's story reminds us all of why we are here and brings real value to the work we do. Team 2 are first going to the office to unload various spare resources and bags and then head t Muravodai School in Vallachenai and spend the morning working with the students there.

Everyone arrived in Colombo by 6.30 pm on Saturday 27th October. We are staying at the Galaldri Hotel, a treat for everyone after a week of hard work.

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Here are a few more stories from team members over the last couple of days.


We have arrived in Colombo after an amazing few days. On our last day in Batticaloa, we spent time in a very rural pre-school, the children were really confident as they individually stood up and sang us a song, counted or said the alphabet. They loved the story and repeated it back to us in very good English.  They loved putting stickers on the hats they had coloured and had fun popping bubbles.
This pre-school is part of the feeding programme and doesn't yet have tables for the children to sit at.

Throughout our time here we have been very blessed with warm welcomes and extraordinary hospitality, we have made new friends and had some wonderful experiences.


26th October - Visit to Deaf Link School

Today some students from Calthorpe and some of us from Team 2 visited the Deaf Link School in Batticaloa. Ocean Stars support the school with visits and resources. We were shown around the school and told that some of the students stay here during term times as they live so far away. Many of the children were non-verbal but they all signed. However they were doing amazing things at the school to help develop the speech of some of the children.  We were shown an amazing room which was acoustically appropriate for children to come there for 1 to 1 teaching. We watched a teaching session where a boy called Johnson demonstrated his ability to make the sounds asked for by his teacher and he was shown through sensory means how to make these sounds. He could say several letters of the alphabet and many of the CVC words written down by the teacher.

Along with some Calthorpe students and teachers we worked with small groups on different craft activities. It was so quiet  and calm in the hall. One of the boys was doing so well that he was being integrated into mainstream education.

Our time there ended with a wonderful dance show.  Two boys and a girl danced to 'By the rivers of Babylon'. They could not hear the music but felt the vibration in the floor and followed the signing of their teacher who was sat at the front. Even when the music failed, they were completely unfazed! They were absolutely brilliant.


Today, Friday 27th October 2023 on our way to Colombo we stopped off at a primary and secondary school.

This school is in the poorest of areas with so many difficulties. However despite the challenges they face daily they are the top performers in exams out of 84 schools. It just shows what can be achieved with determination from both teachers and students.

The excitement when 14 year olds were playing cat and mouse with the parachute; given a beanbag to throw to a partner.

We then gave them a sticker each. Well I have never seen such excitement just for a sticker. I must have given out about 100 stickers - wow it was incredible. The excitement for something we just take for granted or often pick up off the floor.

We are now on the long journey from Batticaloa to Colombo. We are traveling to Ocean Stars Sri Lankan staff, our dear friends. One more night together living it up in a posh hotel, some sightseeing tomorrow and I know some tearful farewells.

And here is what are  Calthorpe Park Students and staff have had to say.....


I really enjoyed being busy all the time and trying out so many different things. It was great to be in school and seeing the children so happy. The temples have been a great experience to see the different cultures and how pretty and unique they all are. I am so glad to have had the chance to do all this, because I never would have done this before!


I have enjoyed all aspects of the trip especially seeing the children's faces light up when we go and visit them. I have loved visiting all the tourist attractions but my favourite was definitely the elephant orphanage. Being able to feed the elephants and feel their trunks was such a surreal experience. I have loved this whole trip and it is a life-changing experience.


I have really enjoyed the whole Sri Lanka experience so far, especially seeing the difference in cultures and how excited the children get when seeing us and doing activities with us. My favourite experience by far was the safari and it felt so surreal to see the elephants and other animals so close up. Overall, I have loved Sri Lanka and the way it has changed my perspective.


I think the engagement of our students has been amazing on this trip, especially at sports day. Even when they were not participating, our students were interacting all the time with the Sri Lanka students.  Even allowing for the language barrier it is amazing to see everyone enjoy themselves, laugh and share together.


I have very much enjoyed my time. Despite having travelled to Sri Lanka many times I still feel like I see new things every day and gain new experiences. Highlights of the trip this year would be watching our students interact so well with the Sri Lankan children. They have represented our school superbly and all enjoyed themselves immensely.


I have really enjoyed the company of the Calthorpe Park students and teachers after five years of not being able to take a student group to Sri Lanka. I enjoyed the fact that they asked so many questions about life in Sri Lanka. I love how the gelled together with the local students all the way through and have learnt valuable life lessons through doing this.


This is my first time doing a tour involving students and a charity. The whole things has been a very valuable experience for me.


I have really enjoyed this trip. For me, the highlight has been seeing how the UK students work with the local students. What they do empowers the Sri Lankan students to become good citizens of our country.

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Day 8

Sports Day

Naomi Booth :: Thursday 26th October 2023 :: This Story

Our final day in Batticaloa and wow what a simply awesome day it has been. There was a Sports Day at Navalady School which turned out to be full of fun, laughter and competition amongst everyone involved.

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Today I went with the Calthorpe students to a 'sports fiesta' at a local secondary school. It was very different than I expected to be as the events were not the same as in the UK. We competed against the school's students in events like the balloon blasting which involved blowing up a balloon with the aim of popping it as fast as possible. After all the competitions, we had an awards ceremony in the hall where we were presented with medals and were thanked for joining them. It was really nice to meet people and have a friendly competition with them.

Then there were visits to preschools where a story was read, hats made, bean bags thrown and caught, bubbles chased, Parachutes swung up and down, teddies distributed and of course the Hokey Cokey sung. 12 preschools have been visited this week and over 400 children and families have been impacted by our UK visitors. Our preschool children become confident in meeting different people, in speaking and listening to English, singing English songs and develop their fine motor skills doing craft activities .

Some our volunteers visited a School for hearing-impaired children. This visit as always quite emotional as we see the struggles the hearing-impaired children face in SL. The school principle Mathy has created a nurturing and stimulating environment for the 32 students registered at her school. She cares passionately for their welfare. The volunteers had a look round the school, did some activities with the children and then the children entertained the visitors by doing a well-choreographed dance.

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The final event of the day saw the sky fill with the noise of Samba drums as 5 Samba Bands from different schools gathered at Vipulanantha School for our annual October visit Varity show. The spectacle was a sight to behold and seeing so many young people playing the Samba drums was simply awesome. Mr Ross Walker who has visited Sri Lanka since 2013 with Calthorpe School is a Legend in the eyes of young people he has inspired in their musical journey. Students from the past who have left school come back to see him and the whole atmosphere is charged with energy and immeasurable energy and joy.

After a wait of 5 years returning to Batticaloa with 30 volunteers has been an enriching experience. Thousands of lives have been impacted and transformed . Laughter and music has filled the air and all the hard work behind the scenes makes the trip a unique experience for all those involved.

Onwards to Colombo tomorrow.

Day 7

A hot day in Trinco!!

Dilanee Bunter :: Wednesday 25th October 2023 :: This Story

Picture: /files/sri-lanka-2023/575/w288/photo-2023-10-25-17-12-28.jpgToday was Trinco Day in our trip programme and everyone had an early start as we had to leave Batticaloa at 7 am for our 3 hour drive along the East Coast to Trinco.

The Team from Calthorpe Park School as well as all the other volunteers first visited preschool in Vellaimanal which has been supported by Ocean Stars Trust since 2005. We then moved on to the secondary school in Trinco where the UK students led workshops for the SL students. This was followed by a singsong in the midday sun on the school courtyard involving around 400 students.

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Here are some reflections by our team.

Lorna and Samuel

Today, Wednesday 25 October we went on a three-hour journey each way to Trincomalee, to the north of Batticaloa on the coast.
This is predominantly a Muslim area. We visited the preschool and were entertained by the children; and then we did some activities and gave them the teddy bears.
We also visited the secondary school where Samuel spent the morning playing basketball and football with them in very hot sticky temperatures.
We then went and had lunch at the manager's house of Ocean Stars for the area.
After we went swimming in the Indian Ocean! Saw a cow on the beach and monkeys.

Julie and Scarlett

On Wednesday we had a wonderful day in Trincomalee where we were entertained with wonderful singing and dancing at the pre-school, before a delicious lunch at the project manager's house.

I met with our sponsor child Rimsha and her Mum and two younger siblings. She is now 12 and has just done some school exams. Rimsha wants to be a doctor in the future. Her family are very grateful that her education is being supported.
A visit to the beach with a lovely swim in the sea was just what we needed to cool off in the afternoon.

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And from the students of Calthorpe Park School


I have really enjoyed every aspect of the trip so far. It's been a really eye-opening and enjoyable experience that won't be forgotten. The children are such fun to work with and I love seeing how happy they are to see us and how engaged they are in our activities. Not only in schools but around Sri Lanka it's also been so great to experience a completely new and interesting culture.



The trip has been so wonderful and all the children are so kind and welcoming  - they listen so well and are just so excited to do the activities we have planned for them. It's really lovely to see a smile on their face and get to know them more throughout the sessions.



If I had to describe my whole Sri Lanka experience I would say it has been incredible. I have loved every aspect of it - from exploring different places all around the country as well as working with members of the Ocean Stars Team. One standout moment would be meeting all of the children that Ocean Stars has helped at the annual sponsorship evening. It was amazing to see how many families had been helped by the charity. I also enjoyed the tuktuk ride and Jeep safari as they allowed me to experience some uniquely Sri Lankan activities. Overall, the whole experience has been so amazing, and it will be something I will definitely never forget.



Honestly, the whole experience has been amazing, but if I had to pick a special moment, I think today would have been one, when two boys learnt my name and would get so excited to call me across the classroom and ask my opinion on their work. Watching all the children's faces light up when you are able to understand them and have a short conversation in English or even tell them you love what they have done is truly an incredible experience and it was worth every pound of fundraising. The trip as a whole is an amazing experience from visiting schools to more tourist attractions like the safari. I am so happy that the children in years to come will have more of the Ocean Stars team coming to visits them so more life-changing memories can be made.

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Dan News Update

OST visit made it on to DAN news

Dilanee Bunter :: Tuesday 24th October 2023 :: This Story

Day 6

4 preschools visited, two link schools with over 1000 students visited, and sponsorship evening attended by around 170 people

Dilanee Bunter :: Tuesday 24th October 2023 :: This Story

Another action-packed day with 4 preschools visited, two link schools with over 1000 students visited, and sponsorship evening attended by around 170 people. Here are some reports from some of our team members.

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Julie and Scarlett:  It was lovely to revisit a pre-school I had been to previously and see the teacher again, as well as be in familiar surroundings. The teacher was pleased to receive a bag full of resources that had been collected in the UK.
The children were so full of joy and loved throwing beanbags to each other and popping bubbles. Scarlett did a great job reading the story and as usual the stickers were really popular. As we left the children were sitting down to eat together.

Lorna: This morning we went to Little Stars preschool. This one has a special place in my heart. I visited it 7 years ago. It was a small building with a crack down the back wall that you could put your hand through. It now is a brand new building.
The money that was collected at Richard's funeral was given to Ocean Stars and Little Stars now have some swings from that money. The preschool have done a memorial plaque for Richard and we had a short ceremony at the beginning of the session.
(The photo has changed somewhat but you can see it's Richard).
When leaving the preschool I felt quite emotional as if I was leaving a part of him behind; however, he will always be remembered at Little Stars, Sri Lanka.

This afternoon and evening (Tuesday 24 October 2023) we had Ocean Stars Trust sponsorship evening.
Children are sponsored by people in the UK at £15 per month. This sponsorship helps educate, feed and clothe a child.
To date some of the children who have been sponsored have become doctors, ICT experts and running their own businesses employing many staff. So these sponsorships really do change lives.

This evening we had an activities with Calthorpe School. Children and parents were able to join in the craft activities. Remember many parents have never had the opportunity to do crafts like this. We also sang songs - a favourite being 'The Hokey Cokey'.

We then finished the evening by having dinner together. There were approximately 160 people. Many families having travelled an hour and a half on the bus to join us.

And some student reflections from Calthorpe Park School Team 2023


I have had a brilliant time here in Sri Lanka so far. It has been so rewarding to see how much the children in Sri Lanka have enjoyed the lessons we prepared for them. I am absolutely loving this experience. It has definitely inspired me to continue helping others in the future.


I am so grateful for the opportunity to meet so many people who are living in difference circumstances from me. It has been really amazing to teach and learn from all the children we have met, especially this morning, when we watched a young dancer at Chenkallady Pre School. I also enjoy dancing, so it was wonderful to watch someone from another part of the world enjoy something as much as I do.


I really enjoyed learning about all the difference cultures here and how not everyone shares the same culture or religion. It has been really amazing to meet all the different students and how excited they are to see us, and how willing they to get involved with what we have prepared. It has been a really amazing experience in Sri Lanka so far.


I have really enjoyed experiencing the different culture in Sri Lanka and realising the people don't need lots of money to be happy. I like how open and friendly everyone is here and how welcoming everyone has been to us. Visiting the schools has been eye-opening as it showed me how grateful the students are and how ready they are to have fun with us. I have enjoyed making great friendships and also seeing where the money from all our fundraising has gone. I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to enjoy such a life-changing experience.

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Day 5

School Visits

Dilanee Bunter :: Monday 23rd October 2023 :: This Story

Another action-packed Ocean Stars Trip Day with over 1000 children impacted by our visit and the work we do empowering children through education in Sri Lanka. The Calthorpe Park Students and Team 2 have been in remote villages visiting preschools and link schools.

Here's a brief summary of our day.

Lorna: Samanathan Preschool

Good evening everyone!
So today we went to our first preschool in Batticaloa. Breakfast at 7 am and in a Tuktuk at 7:30 am for an hour's journey to a remote village. This Preschool is supported by Dogmersfield Primary School. Later in the afternoon went shopping to buy food for the preschools to support the children whose families don't have enough money to feed them. This was paid by donations given by some of you. We also went for a walk around Batticaloa looking at the sights and shopping.
We are now back at the hotel after having dinner and dancing. xx   Oh and we also went to the Ocean Stars office to see where all the action happens!

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Julie : Ilampirai Preschool

Scarlett and Julie had a long journey to one of Ocean Stars newer pre-schools, in a very remote area. Everyone was very welcoming and took part in the warmup before joining in with the story. The children spent time making colourful hats before playing bean bag games and doing action songs. It was then time for a break before we made a lovely collage all together. One of the highlights of the morning was seeing the children playing with the Duplo blocks that were given to them. It was lovely to spend some time with the families before we said goodbye.

Calthorpe Park School Team 2023

The highlights of today were visits to Navalady and Urani school. At both schools the students and staff were welcomed by Samba Bands, Garlands, Students dressed in colourful local outfits and hundreds of students lining up not to miss their UK visitors. Ross Walker opened a Music Room at Navalady School which was renovated from a dilapidated state with funds raised by the students. Songs were sung, hands shaken, high fives shared and once again the shared experience of two cultures just coming together and being together was powerful.

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Another group of students had travelled from Valachenai to receive a new Samba kit that had been brought over from the UK with funds raised by the students. The students are looking forward to returning tomorrow to do more activities with their Sri Lankan friends. And we made it onto Dan News TV!

Day 4...

Gift catalogue boat, tourist tour and Calthorpe Park School students arrive in Batticaloa

Dilanee Bunter :: Sunday 22nd October 2023 :: This Story

So much has happened today that it is difficult to know where to start! Just to help me navigate the multiple experiences and events that have taken place I am going to break the day into bite size sections.

Odile and the Gift Catalogue Boat: A Report by Odile

8.30 visit to see 2 boats that my family had bought collectively: Pineapple 1 and Pineapple 2.  My nephew married in Sri Lanka in 2020 and we all made it to the wedding, about 20 of us from the UK plus 150  other people from all over the world inc. Australia and the USA. We made it back home about 3 weeks before lockdown in the UK. My sister didn't want anything for her big birthday later that year but suggested we contribute towards a boat.  Sri Lanka had been such a welcoming island back in Feb. 2020 and she wanted to give back in some way.  The fisherman's life had changed since getting the boat as he no longer had to pay rent for one and this meant that he could keep more of what he earns. He told us how he had once been attacked by a crocodile which must have been terrifying. But the boats are pretty solid fibreglass vessels and certainly fit for purpose. Pineapple 2 was owned by a husband and wife who go out together on their boat every night at 10pm and stay out on the lagoon until the morning, fishing. They earn around  1000 Sri Lankan rupees a day- about £2.50. Before they had the boat it sounded as though they had to beg borrow or steal boats to get out and fish so as to make a living.  I was given a short spin around the lagoon which was a wonderful experience.

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Lorna and Samuel

So today we finished our tourist tours. We've all had a wonderful couple of days visiting Kandy Temple, Dambulla Rock, the Elephant sanctuary, on Safari, Wood carving centres and a Batik factory as well as a trip on the train and a village tour.

We began our journey to Batticaloa where I think most of us took the opportunity to catch up on some much needed sleep!

Arriving in Batticaloa we all joined together for a meeting - Calthorpe students, Team 2, Ocean Stars office staff, Sri Lankan secondary school teachers and students, drivers and translators. We all introduced ourselves and heard the story of why Ocean Stars was founded. We sang the Ocean Stars song 'Hokey Cokey' which was great fun.

After 5 years of no visits to Sri Lanka it was like 'coming home' for many and the team spirit was great to see. It's going to be a wonderful week.

Julie and Scarlett : arrived at the Hotel Riviera having had a wonderful few days exploring Sri Lanka. Their highlight so far has been the Village Tour and the cookery demonstration.

Calthorpe Park School

After 18 months of planning, fundraising, meetings the staff and students of Calthorpe Park School have finally arrived in Batticaloa!! They were warmly welcomed by our staff . The sports direct resources bags and suitcases and Samba drums that arrived with the students were a sight to behold!! A meeting with staff and students from 4 link schools. Team 2, the Beyond Boundaries Team made this a gathering of around 70 people. Welcome speeches were made by Dilanee, Ross, Shalini, Gihan and all the link schoolteachers. We sang songs and the students from the UK and Sri Lanka mingled with each other and foundations of friendships were made. Several group photographs were taken. Happy Birthday was sung for OSL staff member Chitra, and the Trip Inauguration meeting ended with the customary Hokey Cokey.

The students spent a lot of time after the Inauguration Meeting sorting out the resources into what they needed for the week, into categories, in to age groups. The students also sorted out football kit that had been donated into 3 full kits that will be donated to their link schools during the week.

We are all excited to start our work at the link schools and get stuck into the action-packed Ocean Stars week.

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With so many volunteers in Sri Lanka at the moment...

...there's lots going on!

Dilanee Bunter :: Saturday 21st October 2023 :: This Story

Julie and Scarlett are spending a few days touring the island with Beyond Boundaries, before heading to Batticaloa to meet with the rest of Team 2. They had a great time visiting the elephant orphanage in Pinnawella.
The team from Calthorpe Park School are also touring the island with Beyond Boundaries before heading to Batticaloa on Sunday.

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They went on a train ride as well as visiting the elephant orphanage in Pinnawella.

Picture: /files/sri-lanka-2023/569/w288/394086894-760135429482082-8299541614956158522-n.jpg Picture: /files/sri-lanka-2023/569/w288/393961184-760135386148753-8967533169142053988-n.jpg


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