James Sheahan students on Mission in Sri Lanka

Fifteen students and three teachers from James Sheahan Catholic High School have spent from 23rd September to 9th October travelling in Sri Lanka.

The group landed in Colombo, staying with a De La Salle Catholic community, before travelling to Mannar via Kandy. The students admired the beautiful sights of Kandy, in the central mountainous area of Sri Lanka, where they visited the famous Kandy Botanic Gardens and Buddha's Tooth Temple. This was a wonderful learning experience for the students, with the group learning about Sri Lankan culture, and developing their understanding of one of the world’s great religious traditions, Buddhism.

The group then travelled to Mannar, a town in the far north west of the country where they spent a week in schools run by the De La Salle Brothers. Here, they taught lessons in English, Maths, Drama, iPads and Music, as well as donating thousands of dollars raised through fund-raising over the past 12 months to support the Brothers’ work in educating Tamil youth in this poor, war affected part of Sri Lanka.

They lived in very basic conditions, including becoming used to cold showers and extremely hot, arid conditions. The students were able to swap their schooling experiences with Sri Lankan High School students in a tour of schools surrounding Mannar. They also celebrated Children's Day, which included dancing with teachers and students under a very hot sun to traditional Tamil music.

The students stayed with the De La Salle community in Mannar and were overwhelmed by their warmth and generosity. They witnessed the amazing contribution being made by the Brothers to education and the care of children on this poor predominantly Tamil area of Sri Lanka.

After leaving Mannar, the students travelled to Galle, where they visited a tea plantation where they learnt about this major Sri Lankan export and the influence of the Portuguese, Dutch and English in past centuries. They also visited the famous Dutch Fort of Galle, a stronghold for the Dutch during the days of the rich spice trade.   

Returning to Colombo via the south west coast, the students stopped at a memorial to 50,000 Sri Lankans who died in the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, including over 1,000 people drowned in a train swamped by the massive waves.

The students also visited conservation parks for elephants and turtles and observed the wonderful work being done by volunteers to ensure the long term survival of these species.

The trip has given the students a powerful insight into social justice and the incredible work being done by Catholic Orders in the name of Christ, the power of humans in helping one another and greater insight into the Earth's fragile environment and animals.

Student Reflections and more photos can be viewed HERE>

Peter Meers
2015 Sri Lanka Mission Team

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