Hands on student volunteers bring joy to Ocean Stars in Sri Lanka

Hands on student volunteers bring joy to Ocean Stars in Sri Lanka

Caption: Bubbling with fun: Avonbourne student Lydia delights Sri Lankan children

Charity, Education | Posted: Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018 at 2:01 pm | return to news

Hands on student volunteers bring joy to Ocean Stars in Sri Lanka

Avonbourne Trust volunteers have proved that an ocean apart is no distance when it comes to helping Sri Lankan schoolchildren to have a brighter future.

Hands on student volunteers bring joy to Ocean Stars in Sri Lanka

Caption: Bubbling with fun: Avonbourne student Lydia delights Sri Lankan children

In support of their newly adopted charity, Ocean Stars, a delegate of staff and students from the Avonbourne Trust headed out to Sri Lanka.

The epic journey saw seven Year 11 and 13 students and four staff members from the Bournemouth multi-academy trust spend five days in the regions of Batticaloa and Trincomalee, where communities have been affected by both the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, and the 2009 civil war.

Led by the trust’s CEO Debbie Godfrey-Phaure, the group volunteered at Ocean Stars’ 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.”

A highlight 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.

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 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 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.

Debbie said, “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.”

Student, Lydia, added, “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, the charity 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 – Avonbourne College, Harewood College, Avonbourne Sixth Form and Avonwood Primary – are planning a number of fundraising initiatives throughout the year to continue its support for Ocean Stars Trust.

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