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Seaford Head students Sri Lanka trip

WHEN many members of the Rotary Club were at school, if anyone had suggested that, in their summer holidays, they might undertake a school trip to carry out a community project in Sri Lanka (or Ceylon for many!), they would have thought it was some sort of practical joke. But that is what eleven students from Seaford Head School will be doing in July. In fact, the visit will combine three elements, a community project, opportunities for trekking and other outward-bound activities, and finally some rest and relaxation (R and R).
After landing in Sri Lanka and completing immigration formalities the students will travel to Negombo. With its old Dutch fort, historic churches, beautiful temples, and bustling fish market Negombo is seen as the ideal place to begin a Sri Lankan adventure.
They won’t however have long to settle in as they will then travel to Kandy, the second biggest town, and located in scenic hill country where they can visit Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist shrine or explore the stunning Botanic Gardens.
The next stage of the adventure will take them to Nuwara Eliya, a quaint former colonial hill station surrounded by tea estates and lush gardens. Locally it is known as “Little England”. The mixture between very British and Sri Lankan styles – rickshaws and red telephone boxes – make this a really fun, if slightly surreal, place to explore. This is also trekking country and there are several short or longer trails which can be followed taking in plunging cliffs, waterfalls, misty lakes, and beautiful cloud forest.
The students will then move on to the community engagement and project phase which will provide a unique opportunity for the students to immerse themselves in a community giving an insight into a rich new culture. There will be an opportunity to explore local development challenges by participating in a local project aimed at meeting an important community need. The team’s financial contribution and unskilled labour will be appreciated by the community and will offer the students a chance to learn new practical and leadership skills, as well as make new friends.
Having done the work project, the next stage will take the students to Dalhousie at the foot of Adam’s peak. There is no rest as this is one of the most popular treks in Sri Lanka and one which requires an early start to maximise the chances of seeing the beautiful views across Sri Lanka from the summit at 2243m.
If that was not enough, the next stage will take the team to Borderland for white water rafting down the Kelani River. The need for proper safety is paramount for the trip down 6.5 kilometres of the river taking from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours. The end of the day will see a return to camp for a chance to dry off before continuing with some evening games, a hot meal, and the chance to reflect on the past few days as a team.
The final stage involves a return to Negombo at the end of the adventure. This will allow time to relax on the beach, shopping for souvenirs and having a final team meal before setting off for the flight home. No doubt there will be a fund of stories about all the achievements, and possibly the occasional mishap which, hopefully, will be shared on return.
So where does Seaford Rotary Club fit in. The total cost of the adventure is not insignificant and the students have been fund raising for almost two years to make it all possible. To help them on their way Seaford Rotary Club has funded the cost of travel to Heathrow for the outward journey and also the cost of visas for the party.
We are sure all those making the trip will gain enormously from the opportunity to sample the Sri Lankan way of life and also contribute, through the project which they will undertake to meet a need of the community.
What a pity there weren’t similar opportunities in our school days.


posted: Thursday, 11 May 2017

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