As a Star Action supporter you are welcome to join us in Sri Lanka to see for yourself the extraordinary difference that simple, practical help can make to the lives of those we support.
Here two patrons record their experiences of seeing their good will in ‘Star’ action!
BACK TO SRI LANKA WITH STAR ACTION
By Robert Boylan
Upon arriving at Bandanaraike Airport, Colombo from Mediterranean, Europe, I quickly realised I was not dressed appropriately for the somewhat humid climate. I was greeted by Stuart, the Finance man for Star Action. It felt good to be back in SL (this being my 4th visit – my third with SA) and I quickly re-adjusted to the chaos that fills the arrivals area.
Once we hit the road the unique Sri Lankan driving style kicks in. With a coded series of honks on the horn cars overtake lorries and tuk-tuks and there is utter respect and understanding for all road users. I have never seen an accident on any of my visits. With Buddha statues/ shrines, Hindu and Tamil temples, Churches and mosques everywhere there is certainly a feeling of being ‘’looked after’’ during the drive from a to b. Even when you are in the ‘’wrong’’ lane facing a large lorry you just know you are going to be safe as a driver allows you to pull in (something of a rarity in the UK!).
This trip had extra-special significance for, as well as travelling around with Jenny, Stuart and Liz – we were going to be celebrating a year of ‘’significant’’ birthdays. Stuart’s 70th during our stay and a week later my 50th as well as Jogy (Shan’s Dad) passing the 70 mark earlier in the year and Liz (another SA donor) who reaches 70 later this year.
I arrived at Golden Sunset (in Negombo, West of the island) to be greeted by Liz, Shan (who manages the business there and is SA chauffeur and Sinhalese translator) and Jenny.
After some breakfast we chatted about the upcoming visit to some of the projects that SA sponsors. Later that day we all visited the Little Temple to meditate and then view one of the many glorious sunsets that blessed our trip.
When we set out to visit the projects in the tsunami-hit eastern part of the Island it was evident that the roads had been improved since my last visit about 2 ½ years ago.
We met with Lal who I first met on my last visit. He proudly showed me his chicks and his papaya, aubergine and chilli crops the planting of which had been made possible with SA donations . Lal is a very determined and motivated contact and as a village leader he aims to empower those in his community so that they can become business-people and generate a decent income for themselves to live on. He is also adamant that children in his village are educated to become a stronger generation than his own. Having survived the tsunami and also saved many lives by encouraging people to ‘’run for it’’ he appreciates greatly the opportunity that Star Action has given him and his community. A new lease of life…
We visited a Hindu primary school where we were greeted by children who presented us with garlands. I was humbled and a little embarrassed to be greeted in a way fit for official dignitaries. A donation from SA supporters allowed the electricity to be connected from the outside boundary so that they could have light to read by and use their computer. The headmaster was very appreciative and we were touched by the applause from the young pupils.
We then went to a long open building in Mankerny where the two teachers, Kowsika and Sneeha, educate 55 young pupils. There we were presented with more garlands. SA donors contribute towards their salary and another SA supporter paid for them to have a bike each so that they could travel easily.
We visited a very poor fishing village, located in the West of the island, where SA supporters have paid for private toilets to be built for a number of the homes. This simple act gives families better health and dignity. Previously people were using the beach.
Our next stop was to a lady called Pawalam whose only words in English are ‘’Good Morning.’’ She repeats this over and over. In an effort to say ‘’thank you’’ we got ‘’Good morning.’’ When we were leaving we were bid farewell with enthusiastic handshakes and ‘’Good morning, good morning, good morning.’’ It brought a smile to our faces. A generous SA donor paid to have a small two-room house built for this lady as her original home was washed away in the tsunami. Her husband also died in the catastrophe. Another donor bought her a table, chairs and some mats so that she and her children could sleep comfortably.
Another lady, Sudharsini, told us that she had been selling all the clothes that she had made using a sewing machine that had been donated by SA.
Stuart provided a woman called Selvarani with a water pum. The Pump is to supply her vegetable farm away from the well and to grow the food for her 6 dependents. Additionally, Samanthi, a new Mother, and her 6 day-old baby had to use a neighbour’s lavatory and didn’t even have a water supply of her own. SA is rectifying that immediately.
The most unusual request of the visit was from a woman, called Santini, whose husband had ‘’gone walkabouts’’ leaving her to rear their two young children and she wondered if SA could buy her a….cow! She would then breed calves and they in turn would go into the community. She also said she could sell the milk to the dairy to feed herself and her two children. She was very articulate as we sat and listened (via Lal who translated from her Tamil into Sinhalese and then Shan translating into English!) to her explaining the process of how to go about this business starting with artificial insemination!
So, as you can see the visits are productive and change lives. All the money donated goes directly to those who are in great need. Potential recipients are always considered. Sometimes there is an urgency about the request and Stuart and Jenny make on-the-spot decisions about what to give there and then so that projects can swing into action immediately.
As supporters of SA we pay for our flights, our accommodation, meals and car hire/petrol from our own pockets so that money donated is not wasted on administration. There is a lot to be said for supporting a small charity. There is complete transparency that you don’t always get with larger charities.
So, to close I would like to say if you are already donating to a charity that gives overseas aid and support, when you come to renew your donation please consider switching to SA. You can donate to a general fund where your money will be used for projects in Sri Lanka, India and Africa. Or you can ask for a list of specific projects and request that your donation be spent on one that you resonate with.
And, if you haven’t started charitable giving, even a small donation to SA which you won’t notice every month will have a dramatic positive impact on the lives of others.
PS. The birthday party was fun and the food delicious…
A HAPPY RETURN TO THE SUN
By Liz Vicary
In Star Action country once again—it was a privilege to be able to accompany Jenny and Stuart on visits to projects and to meet once again the wonderfully resilient and enterprising people that Star Action supports.
What fun to go to the bicycle shop in Valechennai and buy bikes for the two lovely young teachers, Sneeha and Kowsika, and to see their happy faces; to see basic furniture loaded into a tuk-tuk for Pawalam; and to visit my toilet family. However, it is always a little saddening to listen to the various ‘wish lists’ of so many poor people, always asking for things we take for granted, and wishing for a magic wand. But a little goes a long way in Sri Lanka and the recipients of our gifts are so smilingly grateful.
My visit was enhanced by the wonderful comfort and hospitality received at the ‘Golden Sunset’ Guest House, run with kindness and efficiency by Shan and his family. Nothing was too much trouble and the food produced by chef Noel was endlessly delicious. I recommend it most warmly.
Jenny travelled to Sri Lanka with her son, Michael, this year as Stuart’s wife, Bobby, was very sadly taken ill and has subsequently died. Our thoughts are with Stuart and his family.
Star Action continues to transform the lives of poor communities in Eastern Sri Lanka with agricultural projects such as rice, groundnut and chicken production. Our focus on education also continues apace, as Rakshana takes on the task of teaching children the national language of Sinhala in Mankerny – this is particularly important for the Tamil speaking children who might otherwise be unable to benefit from the national education provided. Others who have given much over the years to support the education of children here – such as Sneeha – are moving on to train in nursing with Star Action’s support and blessing.
In India, Richard and Sasees continue to provide a refuge for children. Our most recent recruits are a small group from the desperately poor Cardomom Hills region, who it is hoped will have an opportunity to break the poverty trap of poorly paid manual labour in the tea plantations that might otherwise be their meagre inheritance. The life-changing impact that our Brighter Life home (as we are now calling the Save the Babies orphanage) has, can be seen in Marcus, one of our first babies, who is now studying for his A Levels in Maths, Physics and Chemistry.
Star Action has also been able to be of assistance to more people in Nepal: we have helped by stocking the library of the Haven on Earth Orphanage that Jenny opened in 2014 and, through the generosity of one supporter, have been able to rebuild the home of a family that was destroyed in last year’s earthquake.
We are indebted to our active and growing band of supporters, who have, through their unstinting generosity, helped us to improve the lot of so many. Thank you
It’s been quiet on the blog but we have been busy working behind the scenes!
This has been another year of good progress with our projects to help individuals and families in severe poverty and to contribute to the education of the next generation. One or more of the Trustees was able to visit India and Sri Lanka during the summer and we were able to steer assistance in Nepal, after their two devastating earthquakes, from a base in Qatar.
Christmas is nearly here again. STAR ACTION Christmas gifts help you find the answer to ‘what do I give…?’ but also enable us to give more greatly needed support to really deprived children and sad families in Sri Lanka and India.
Also see our latest Newsletter for news from Nepal and a possible new project to help the Syrian refugees trying to live in Turkey.
We thank you so much for all your support throughout 2015 and send warm greeting for Christmas and the New Year ahead.
Thank you for all your interest and support of our Star Action work. It has been a busy year for us here at Star Action; please browse through our site or download the newsletter from the sidebar for updates on all our projects and news of new ones too—including our new friends in Nepal.
We have had a another successful year running our Christmas gift scheme and hope you have had a wonderful Christmas and a happy start to 2015.
Whilst you have been enduring almost constant rain in England and Northern Europe this winter, Jenny and I have spent 3 weeks in Sri Lanka and India, both of which would have been glad of some of the water.
We shared the delight of our 27 strong Indian family at their new permanent home in Tamil Nadu and briefly met the first two (gap-year) students who had been staying to learn about India and to help the children. In Sri Lanka we met Vijayashanthi who, through your generosity, has almost fully recovered from her heart operation. We saw the joy on the faces of many family members at the prospect of a new set of clothes (Christmas 2013 appeal), and arranged for two refurbished houses and a power supply to a third. The Youth Training Centre in Ghana has also enjoyed a generous donation enabling a constant water supply to the building.
Best wishes and thanks,
(for Star Action Trustees, Jenny, Kate and Joan)
This year sees the launch of our Christmas Gift scheme – a choice of gifts that can make a real difference to our friends in Sri Lanka.
Visit the Christmas Gift Page for more details.
Stuart and I have just returned from another visit to Sri Lanka and India to check up on the progress of all our projects.
In India we were very pleased with the progress in completing our new home for our ‘STB Children’. The response to our appeal in April was wonderful. After 17 years of moving from rented house to rented house, it will be a bonus to have the
permanent home and more settling for the children.
In Sri Lanka we are launching our new ‘Buy a Gift for Christmas’’ project and happily report that there is now light at our little East Coast School of Aranculam. Our teachers have their bicycles and we have two new toilets being built.
A big thank you to all our kind supporters.
It’s been a busy few months since our last update, and we are thrilled at the progress that your generous support has enabled; you can read about developments in both India and Sri Lanka by down loading our new NEWSLETTER
- Electricity for a forgotten school
- Pawalam’s house now built
- Our new Chicken Farm project...
New Home for Indian Orphans
This project is moving quickly now, and, as you can see from the picture, is two thirds of the way there. You can imagine how excited the children are about their new home!
In order to complete this permanent home for our ‘Save the Babies” family, we need a further £10 000 and are launching a special appeal to this end. Excitingly, a generous supporter of Star Action has promised to match every pound donated for this appeal up to £5 000 so your generosity will be doubled!
It’s easy to donate – find out how here.
HAPPY HOLIDAYING IN SRI LANKA?
Visit beautiful Sri Lanka. See the Island, tour our projects, and stay in our Golden Sunset Guest House. Phone Stuart at (UK) 01395 568064 or visit golden-sunset.org for more details.
Dear Friends and Supporters of Star Action,
I am delighted to tell you that we have received wonderful support for our emergency appeals for our destitute war widow Pawalam in Mankerny, Eastern Sri Lanka.
Thanks to your generosity, we have been able to go straight ahead and built her little house. She is now safe and dry, with new clothes for herself and all the children (these made by our sewing machine lady Sutharsini). She is so very grateful to Star Action. Thank you.
We have also received further wonderful help for our ‘Build a Toilet’ project, and this means that we can go forward with the building of two more toilets.
Great appreciation to everyone.
Love and greeting from Jenny
During our recent time in Sri Lanka, August 2012, I spent as much time as I could meditating in the Little Temple for World Peace by the sea. Stuart joined me for sunset prayers and meditation. We both believe that there is increasing spiritual power in this Little Temple, which has been of significance in bringing about the current peace in Sri Lanka.Read More»
Kate (Neil) has just returned from her annual summer visit to our STB Children.
They are enjoying school holiday time now and Kate reports that they are all well and happy!
More news of the new house building project to follow in her report.
My dear friends and supporters of Star Action,
I have recently returned from a very rewarding visit to Sri Lanka and India, with my colleague and co-founder of Star Action, Stuart.
We try to visit Sri Lanka twice a year, if possible, but certainly each February, so we can personally check on the progress of all the up and running projects and oversee the initiation of new endeavours. This visit has been very fruitful and I am particularly excited about our new community education project in the remote and formerly war-torn East Coast village of Mankerny, and also our ‘build a toilet’ scheme in a very poor fishing community on the West Coast.
In our last Newsletter we wrote about three individual families in our care in Sri Lanka, including our ‘triplets family’ and the family caring for our Little Temple. Although Maria, our ‘Temple guardian’ with her daughter Mabel and granddaughter Wasana) has now lost her elderly husband last September, and then sadly suffered a stroke herself, she is recovering well and has nearly regained the use of her left side, learning to walk again with a stick. All our families are very appreciative of Star Action’s care and support.
The triplet family are now self-supporting and all five children doing well—the two older girls being particularly clever at school.
Latest News March 2012
Fred and Hamida are working for some months now in Kumasi, not far from Asiakwa. After a recent visit Hamida says: ‘We are currently putting the finishing touches to the building.’ She goes on to say that she has begun her teaching work at Kumasi University. We are all hoping that this will help her with the next stage of the project to get government grants and assistance from the Ghanaian Education Authorities in beginning the actual equipping and teaching work in the Centre.
Our dear Supporters of Star Action,
As we begin this New Year season we are writing to thank you for all your wonderful support of Star Action throughout 2011. We are really delighted at the progress which has been made in the completion of our building for the Vocational Training Centre in Asiakwa, Ghana, the subject of our appeal to you at the beginning of the year.Read More»
Jenny reports: All twenty children in our Save the Babies home are doing well. Our youngest child, MAYAKANNAN (2 years) and his sister DANA LAKSHMI (4 years) have settled in well and will learn enough English from Sasees to pass the ‘English Test’ all children take before Primary School. PADMINI (5 years) and MARCUS (8 years) have already passed this test. Marcus is proving particularly bright and is learning Tamil (the local language) along with Hindi and English. POPPY (3 years) now at nursery school is also good with English and could be very clever. Our cleverest older child is VELAMMAL (13 years) who in spite of her terrible start in life as a street beggar, dead mother and father suffering from leprosy, has blossomed in Save the Babies’ care. At senior school now, she came 10th out of 60 girls in the top group. She hopes to train as a nurse.Read More»
We wish to share with you the plight of our teenage friends in ASIAKWA, a remote location in Eastern region of Ghana, West Africa. Children attend school up to the compulsory lower secondary school level (age 14 years). Beyond this, many parents in this village cannot afford to continue educating their teenage children. Consequently; these young people roam around with nothing to do; they have little or no skills as they grow into adulthood; teenage pregnancy is rife in the community and also the problems of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS. Signs of poverty abound in the village. In short, the community is slowly dying.Read More»
I completed my 26 mile swim on 11th October raising just over £3,500. A huge THANK YOU to all those who gave so generously.
The money raised will enable us to complete the next stage of erecting the building to provide a Vocational Training Centre for the young people of Asiakwa. We are striving to continue fundraising for the project and you will see below details of Fred and Hamida Bote-Kwame’s Appeal.
With grateful thanks,
Jenny Dent – Star Action Trustee
Again Jenny reports: Our two weeks in Sri Lanka have been very fruitful. We checked up on all our existing projects (see updated SRI LANKA PROJECTS page ….) and made plans for new ones, including helping another very poor school in the North East civil war battered area of the island. It was moving to see children leaving one of the poor schools we had previously helped, carrying their ‘Star Action school bags’.Read More»