Volunteering in Sri Lanka

undefinedBlackburn College are working with 4 local Blackburn with Darwen schools and the International Volunteering Service (IVS) to give 16 young people the chance of a life time to volunteer in Sri Lanka. 3 pupils from Blackburn Central High School, Darwen Vale High School, St Bede’s RC High School and Witton Park Academy and 4 students from Blackburn College are setting off on a 12 day trip to help out in a specialist school in the classrooms as well as gardening/labouring and helping out in the local community.

Dermot Gallagher, one of the group coordinators said ‘We hope that this gives the students and pupils a fantastic opportunity to explore different cultures, gain a unique experience and push the learners to challenge themselves in a completely new environment. These opportunities really do help the learners stand out from the crowd.’

The group have been working together for over 12 months on a project which has seen them volunteer on a housing project in Liverpool, exploring cultural differences within their local communities as well as nationally and internationally. This is now being followed up with this trip thanks to the support of IVS and their Sri Lankan counterparts Service Civil International (SCI).

The group intend to blog their experiences during their trip here so watch this space for updates.

Day 1- The Airport

undefinedCurrently at the airport- Moaaz is apprehensive for the flight! Phoebe's gutted that there's no Starbucks- James' Burger King experience was a joy!! Dermot's seen Andy Cole (former Rovers legend)! Ewa, Phoebe, Emily and

Charlie all got searched! Waiting to board the plane now. everyone's happy!!!'




Day 2- Arrival

undefinedAll arrived safely after accosting Andy Cole at Doha airport (picture to follow)- it's been very hot and humid! We had an amazing trip from Colombo to Kandy on a Sri Lankan coach come party bus, overtaking elephants and rickshaws. After the biggest welcome ever, we have settled into the beautiful place that is the Blue Rose school- where we have met lots of lovely people! Currently in the middle of a tropical downpour with amazing thunder and lightning!! The monkeys are trying to get into our rooms but the lads smelly feet are keeping them away! All relaxing ready for a busy day tomorrow!



Day 3- The Boys View


undefinedSri Lanka- the boys view!! Girls to follow tomorrow.


Yahyaa- Looking forward to working with the children. It's unbelievable how much potential and skill they have ! Our big aim is to enhance their skill and learn the unique skills which each pupil demonstrate. Great experience so far ! Can't wait for more of the banter !



James- can't believe how good it has been so far. Looking forward to mixing with the students and learning about them and also vice versa. The children here are so inspirational it's amazing!


Charlie- Started to settle in to our surroundings and enjoy this once in a life time opportunity. Excited to work with children helping them to learn new things and also for them to teach us new things. The staff and the teachers are both as equally inspirational and they show how good will can go a long way.


Ben- After our first introduction of the Blue Rose School today, new things appeared to me and the group, the special students are highly capable in learning new things, the students are very inspirational and have high potential. Both staff and students have welcomed us warmly and made us understand the qualities and equalities. I'm really looking forward to further working throughout the week.


Lewis- we all have started to miss the simple things that we take for granted such as our sofa but we are all having a great time in the heat. The food is different in many ways compared to British food. I am looking forward to the rest of our journey. #banterbus


Josh- It was a very long journey to get here but it was well worth it! We have already experienced some of the culture of Sri Lanka and Kandy in-particular the food (which is very spicy!). The people are all extremely friendly and welcoming and have made us settle in straight away. I'm looking forward to working in the school and helping as much as I can.


Moaaz- A very long journey however worth it. The group are like a family looking out for each other and having loads of fun. A big culture shock but with time everyone adapts. The worst thing is the insects as it just annoys everyone.the food is fabulous and different to Britain. First day with the children and can't wait to see how they live life with the difficulties they face. Just a big motivation and inspiration to everyone. The best part is Banters still going!


 Day 4- The Girls View 

undefinedRosie - It has been an amazing experience so far from actually arriving to Sri Lanka to meeting the kids. The kids have had such a big part on me as they're an influence and they just open up so many more doors of opportunities for me to walk through.

Jade - So far the experience of arriving in Sri Lanka and meeting the young students at blue Rose has bean amazing. The dorms we are all sharing has encouraged us to get closer to each other and make more memories. These past 5 days have been really good and I hope it stays like this throughout the rest of our stay :) 

Phoebe- I think that the whole experience so far has been challenging because of the huge culture change, but already unforgettable and amazing. I've met so many inspirational people these past 5 days, in particular the teachers at Blue Rose. I can't wait to make the absolute most of this once in a life time opportunity and experience & Im sure the remainder of our stay in Sri Lanka will be brilliant :))

Jess- I am absolutely loving our time in Kandy, Sri Lanka! It feels like so long since we were at Manchester Airport because we have done so much over the past few days and met so many inspirational people too. It is such an incredible experience that we will probably never get again so I'm trying to make the most of everything and I can't wait for the rest of our stay!

Sairah- this has been an amazing experience and I've met some lovely people in Sri Lanka and I now have many Sri Lankan friends who have taught me the language which is quite w easy once you get to know it. The teachers and students at the blue Rose school have been a dream to work with, especially an ex student, who now works at the school. He is a hero and I think that the message from this is the idea that being disabled can't  stop you from achieving in life.

Amber- my time in Sri Lanka has been great so far, I have met so many influential People that have given me a different outlook on life. Kandy is amazing, the best thing about Kandy for me is the Blue Rose Special School, they do so much for their disabled students who are not always accepted in society. I'm making the most out of this experience because I know I probably won't get another opportunity like this again in my life. The local Sri Lankan students that have joined the UK group for our time in Kandy have thought me and others some basic phrases of their language. I have also enjoyed experiencing the cultural aspects of Kandy and Sri Lanka in General. This is an experience that I will truly never forget!,ok

Rebekah- Sri Lanka is amazing! Everything about it has been fantastic so far and I can't get over how welcoming, friendly and truly inspirational everyone has been. The culture change has opened my eyes to a whole other way of life and I really appreciate the wonderful opportunity I've been given.

Ewa- So far I have experienced the best time in Kandy. This place has given me a chance to look at different aspects of life in a less fortunate country. I'm loving the fact that I have hopefully made life long friends, who will want to carry on working with people who have different abilities than ourselves. This opportunity that I've been given us life changing, and I'm truly great full  that this door has been opened to me.

Emily- my experience in Sri Lanka has been amazing, meeting the blue Rose students have inspired me so much. They are so friendly, caring and are so great-full for little things that we take for granted. This opportunity has opened my eyes and I would love to carry on doing volunteering like this again in the future.

Blog Update! 31-10-14 - Dodgeball

Our students planning and running sports sessions for the Blue Rose pupils- followed by a game of dodgeball and basketball with the parents of the children.

We're really impressed with our students leadership skills and concentration, they have been amazing! After the sessions our students went off with their host families to spend the evening and night sampling Sri Lankan culture even further- more to follow!



Students give views on their night with a Sri Lankan Family!

Our students got the opportunity to stay with local pupils' and students families for one night- all students found the experience very interesting and beneficial. The students went in pairs with one family taking 3 boys! A huge thank you to the SCI team, the families and pupils/students for their amazing hospitality during this unforgettable part of the programme.

Quotes from the home stay:

  • 'The hospitality was great, the accommodation wasn't amazing but we got through it and was a really good experience, although the shopkeeper broke my tuc-tuc!!'
  • 'Was really nice, we got on really well with the host family and it was an amazing experience'
  • 'It was amazing, I learnt all about Sri Lankan weddings and they showed us through lots of photos of the family and their experiences'
  • 'Perfect! We got addicted to caram game- surprised by the quality of technology at the house- the family atmosphere was fantastic'
  • 'Was really good- the hospitality was great, the feed us lots and lots and I mean lots! The family where really nice and it was a great experience'
  • 'Funny, we learnt how to say "thank you very much"- the shopping experience was interesting as well as the tea factory'
  • 'It was really good- and a great experience. Very interesting. The house was huge with a temple on the roof with historical religious artefacts, we chatted a lot about religion. We had lots of interesting food'
  • 'I just really enjoyed it and it was very sad to leave'
  • 'We really appreciated the home comforts- lovely beds and a warm shower'
  • 'I was impressed by the similarities to our teenage culture- we laid in bed watching movies. We also went to see 3 different temples and went to the most amazing restaurant!'
  • 'Got to explore the culture further and the family got all the best cutlery out just for us. Felt very honoured'
  • 'We exchanged gifts with each other and built up great friendships'

Nipun & Ranga (Sri Lankan students): 'Very interesting and was a great chance to improve our spoken English and helped with our patience- they introduced us to Blackburn- we would like to visit sometime!'

Dinithi, Janani & Thamali (Sri Lankan students): 'It was really nice- everything about it was really good!'

Head Teacher of the Blue Rose School: 'The parents have come back with really good comments about all of the students, it has been very rewarding for them and helped to explore the British culture more'

Friday blog update:

The students earning their keep! They have been very creative this morning making greeting cards for the Blue Rose school to sell:

Card Making at the School

Blog Update: Friday 31st October

Sairah teaching a maths lesson! Sairah can now count up to 20 in Sinhala. Very impressive.

Sarah Teaching a Maths Lesson


Blog Update - Saturday 1st November

Elephant Orphanage- Another excellent day- we visited the elephant orphanage, which was a strange feeling as we had initial concerns over the conditions there but we found it to be very interesting and had an amazing time. We found out why the elephants were housed there and that it was the safest place for them. After this we went to another smaller orphanage where some of the students got to ride on the elephants and wash them- 'I was scared at first but the experience was just amazing, the elephant kept flicking water at us with it's tail and trunk' (Amber).

Elephant Orphanage









The Tea Factory- After the orphanage we went to a 70 year old tea factory where we could see how tea was grown, picked and produced. The whole trip was very impressive- it was followed by a sophisticated cup of tea.

Game of Cricket- After the tea factory we went to play cricket and football at the local park- a bit different than the UK apart from the rain clouds. Some very good play- cricket player of the match was Emily Parkinson with two amazing catches!

Sunday 2nd November

Botanical Gardens and shopping-

This morning we went to the Botanical Gardens in Kandy town where we saw thousands of different trees and plants from around the world.

The climate in Kandy is perfect for most trees and plants to grow- this was extremely impressive! Most of the group walked around with some of the lads being lazy by hitching a ride on a large golf buggy which chauffeured them around the gardens!

We had lunch and then went off shopping to buy final souvenirs, although Moaaz has bought half of the merchandise in Kandy already!!


Blog update Sunday- our final sunset together in Sri Lanka. We've had an amazing time and the rain stopped to allow us to see this beautiful scene.

Sunset Sri Lanka

Final day 

We are sad to say that this is our final day, we have been swimming here with the pupils of the Blue Rose School- we all had a fantastic time!

Swimming Pool Sri Lanka

We are currently sat in the final goodbye/cultural show with the pupils, our students are getting upset at the thought of leaving. We will be evaluating the whole trip later on, followed by a final walk to the Second World War memorial garden, packing and then setting off for the airport!! :-(

Final day blog continued:

The Blue Rose pupils giving us an amazing send off with a traditional Sri Lankan dance. They've made the trip a memorable time and their happiness and energy is really infectious! We have been given lots of gifts from the Sri Lankan students (Nipun, Dinithi, Ranga, Thamali & Janani), Punchi and his lovely wife, the SCI group and the Blue Rose School. We are overwhelmed by their thoughtfulness and generosity.



The second picture is of Moaaz planting a lemon tree on behalf of the group for the Blue Rose School and SCI to remember us by! The group are hopeful to come back sometime in the future to see the tree blossom!!



At Colombo airport: waiting to board the plane- all excited to be coming home although very sad to be leaving! Individual video blogs to follow.


Back in the UK after an unbelievable trip! Amazing students and staff as well as amazing new friends from Sri Lanka! A huge thank you to Ben Moon (enjoy the rest of your stay), SCI Sri Lanka, IVS GB, The Blue Rose School and especially Blackburn College for this opportunity! BCHS, Darwen Vale, St Bede's and Witton Park you have fantastic pupils and Pleckgate, Walton le Dale and St Michael's thank you for your ex pupils- Rosemina Bux, Yahyaa Bax, Charlie Errey and Josh Hudson!


27 Oct 2014, 10:30 AM