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October 02nd 2017

During the Summer

Along with many pupils over the Summer, Connie, now in Year 12, took the opportunity to relax and celebrate the completion of her GCSEs before embarking on her Sixth Form course.  Along with her family, Connie visited Sri Lanka, and made time to find out more about life there.  Here she writes about the trip, and what made it so special.

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During this summer, I travelled to Sri Lanka with my family as a celebratory trip after completing my GCSEs.  I went for two weeks and travelled around the island, exploring the wildlife and the history of the island.

Prior to the trip I planned to visit a school in a less privileged area, to which I would take notepads, pens, colouring pencils, colouring books and sweets.

So, for one day of the trip, we visited Thibirigas Wewa Primary School in Sigiriya. When we arrived at the school, we travelled down a very bumpy dirt track, which is very different to the luxury of the Cobham Hall drive. As I cannot speak Sinhala, our driver was our translator. We walked into the school playground and spoke to whom we thought was the painter, but little did we know he was actually the Headmaster. When the school first opened, there was only 5 pupils as they did not receive funds from the government, so the Headmaster took up the role of doing all the repairs and painting for the school.  As a result, he now receives funding from the government and runs the school, which now takes 45 pupils.

When our driver asked the Headmaster if it was ok for us to see the pupils, he was very shocked, and explained that he has never had any western person visit his school.

As I only took a limited number of colouring books, he said he would introduce me to the least privileged, who were in a classroom containing 11 pupils. Each pupil received a colouring book and a small pack of pencils; the expressions on the children’s faces were completely overwhelming, and it was emotional to see how such a small thing can make someone so happy.  Immediately, all the children started colouring and enjoying their gifts.

We then visited the other classrooms and I gave all the other pupils a notepad and a pencil, which were all equally appreciated.

The weekend before my visit to the school was Sri Lanka’s monthly Buddhist festival of the Blue Moon. The children were so thankful they all came out into the playground and sang their traditional song for the festival. After their amazing performance, each pupil received a packet of sweets, which went down very well.

Over the next few months, I intend to fund raise some money so I can send another package to the school for Christmas, as I promised the children that I would share their school amongst the Cobham Hall pupils.

Overall the experience was extremely rewarding, and made me open my eyes about how lucky I am to go to the school I do and to cherish the life I have.

- Connie, Year 12

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