RSIS Sri Lanka: Ayubowan

Posted: 20 December 2018

Happy birthday

A very happy birthday to Raskit, Laura and Christine who all celebrated their birthdays whilst in Sri Lanka. We hope you all had a very memorable and special day. Each birthday was celebrated with cake, singing and a present!

Student update by: the environmental team

Last night ended with a viewing of Plastic Oceans, a worrying documentary on the damage plastic was doing to our environment. This left many of us, me included, with worried eyes and a drive to try to use less plastic and to ensure to use safer plastics when necessary. However, it was off to bed for the night and everyone sure looked ready for a good night’s sleep.

Saturday started with a taste of a Sri-Lankan traditional foodstuff- milk rice, with a spicy relish and bread and jam. The team took a slightly easier start to the day, with the planting of the 23 holes we dug yesterday afternoon and two holes to be dug and planted in the same area. This was completed very quickly so the team moved to the next site on the block to dig 25 more holes for the final set of trees for the block.

Probably the fastest and most efficiently completed piece of work since we began. We took less than an hour to complete 25 trees! The entire group was blessed by soft soil, overcast weather and good attitude. Between our continuous turmoil, we were graced with                well earned ginger tea and delicious biscuits from our Provider, the local store. With that done we headed back to community. After lunch we headed back to site to continue our task. Though our time frame was short we finished digging and planting 17 saplings in an hour and a half.

Student Update by: Yash

The last few days…

As there was less work to do and less students were needed some of us started to build some plantations to make the work site prettier for the children at the school. Everyone had lots of fun building games and objects to play on.

We prepared loads of cement to plaster the brick walls.

We had a presentation by Brad who told us the reason why we need to support the cause for the prevention of plastics and find and use more innovative methods. He told us why it was necessary and the consequences of plastics in ocean. Brad also told us to support the B-corp organisations like Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Creams because they check on aspect of their companies ethics so that the consumer is able to be sure and believe whatever they buy is ethical and supports the health of our eco-system.

Student update by: Nat and Lizzy

A typical day for us:

You might think that, because we had done this for the last five days, we would have become sick of it by now. This was, however, not the case. Each day and each farm has been new and exciting. This day was no exception. Our silly discussions and ridiculous banter when they we came across five adorable little pups. Finally and with much effort, we all dragged ourselves away and prepared ourselves for the hard day of work ahead of us.

Mika and Owen were our leaders for the day and they worked us hard. At this point of the trip, we were all fatigued and their no-nonsense attitude was the perfect motivation to get our work done effectively. Joining us, were four of the big build students. Although we had mastered (minor exaggeration) this technique long ago, our new helpers still managed to dig a few holes (with the help of a few of us experts). FORTY-SIX skilfully crafted, hand dug, perfectly squared, two by two by two foot holes. A new record. During the small break, we were fed coconut balls and the sweetest of sweet tea, while learning some of the local children’s names, as they practised their range of English words. After our three and a half hours of hard work, we made our way back to lunch and chatted as usual.

After lunch, Chandi our local expert, discussed the different challenges faced by farmers in Asia versus Africa when it comes to different methods of preventing elephants from destroying farms and potentially getting shot. He told us the benefit of beehives in order to advantage both the farmers and the elephants by keeping the destructive animals away from crops. We visited a nearby farm, and learnt of the skills and benefits of bee fences in Sri Lanka. Most of us believed the bee hives to be post boxes at first, however, we soon were able to study the complex design of the hives. A variety of deep chats, banter and singing (preparation for the upcoming talent show) lightened our Jeep ride on the way home.

Student Update by: Hannah

Today we planted our final orange tree for the Project Orange Elephant conservation programme. Our final planting frontier was based at the school, just on the opposite side to the Big Build worksite. Everyone by this point was exhausted but with the realisation that we had a mere twenty-five trees left to plant, there was a feeling of determination within the group.

Fuelled by packets upon packets of chocolate biscuits and the distant sound of the Big Build music, the holes were dug as swiftly as ever. The soil in which we were digging was by far the worst that we had faced, huge rocks were being lifted from the ground on a regular basis and our arms were tiring with the large amount of effort every scrape of the holes took. However, these conditions could be seen as rather fitting, given that these impossible holes would be the last we were to dig during the remainder of our time in Sri Lanka.

The main aim for a few of us during the afternoon heat was a challenge that we had not yet faced the ‘Round Square’s Got Talent’ auditions. The stakes were high. Greg was acting as our very own Simon Cowell and the rehearsals were extensive. Each act trying to claim one of the fourteen available spots for tomorrow’s show.

The selected acts range from ballet, cultural dances, singing, raps and even stand-up comedy. All have the qualities of a winning act, especially with such a good representation of the Environmental crew with Miguel singing and playing guitar, Garv’s cultural duet and myself attempting to do the Alphabet Aerobics. I hope that we will even be able to peer-pressure Andy the Intern into performing for us. In terms of who will win, I guess we will find out tomorrow night.

Student Update by: Vaida

Nearing the end of the building aspect of the trip, everyone seemed to be getting a bit tired. Despite this, everyone was able to pitch in with a great last effort to clean the worksite and finish the project, which we are all so proud of.

Everyone was super excited about painting the building after having finished the plastering. Soon enough, the paint went from going on the building to going on a great deal of people’s faces.

One highlight of the morning was the large task of excavating our group’s “loch-ness monster” head from the concrete mould in the ground to complete our sculpture for the kids. Everyone thought that it was going to snap or break apart but much to our surprise, it worked out. Now our group will have a long lasting reminder of a contribution that we have made to the community.

As we embark on our last ever walk to the site this afternoon, I am sure that everyone will miss the work that we have been involved in and remember it forever. I know that I will also definitely miss all of the amazing people that I have met on this trip.

End of the project

Time on the project site has now come to an end. Both the Big Build, and the Environmental team have worked incredibly hard. Their efforts will leave a lasting impact on the local community. The new classroom will allow lessons to be taken in shelter and the trees planted will help protect valuable crops.

“I am very proud of them,” say Vicki, the adult leader for the Big Build team “Their hard work has been amazing, resilience when they were tired, well behaved and lots of fun to be around. The time has just flown with lots of laughs and enjoyment, delicious food and great company. I’m looking forward to seeing what all these great young people achieve in the future.”

Adventure time

Yesterday students had the opportunity to visit the Dambulla cave temple, a World Heritage Site which is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. Five separate caves contain about 150 absolutely stunning Buddha statues and paintings, some of Sri Lanka’s most important and evocative religious art. The Buddha images were first created here over 2000 years ago, and over the centuries subsequent kings added to and embellished the cave art. Many of the students (and adults!) opted to wear traditional sarongs to visit the temples.

After lunch Students then went on to explore the breath-taking Citadel of Sigiriya also known as ‘Lion Rock’. Sigiriya is an ancient rock fortress located in the northern Matale District near the town of Dambulla in the Central Province, Sri Lanka. Sigiriya today is a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site. It is one of the best preserved examples of ancient urban planning.

There has also been a chance for a city tour and some shopping the perfect opportunity to pick up some souvenir and maybe some last minuet Christmas presents!


The students will end today in Negombo where they will celebrate their final time together with a special dinner and time to enjoy the sunset.

Adult leaders will help students check in for their return flights in good time before their flights. Students will then be escorted to the airport three hours before their flight and taken through to Departures, where they will get their mobile/cell phones back! Round Square will email parents to confirm that their son/daughter is on route home when they have safely gone through to departures.

Thanks for following our blog! We may add some additional photos to this post and to Facebook throughout the day.

Back to all RSIS updates