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Pilot Pens for Children in Sri Lanka

We recently heard from a wonderful lady named Margaret who'd bought some Pilot Super Color Silver Markers for a trip she was taking to Sri Lanka.

Margaret works with a charity called Ocean Stars Trust, which was established in 2005 to help children and families whose lives were devastated by the Indian Ocean tsunami. She was planning to work on arts/crafts and sports projects with children as part of a nine-day visit.

The Pen Warrior got in touch with the people at Pilot Pens UK, and the company was kind enough to donate 12 dozen Hi-Tecpoint V5s for the trip.

Before she left, Margaret took the time to tell us a bit about what she would be doing in Sri Lanka, and what kind of use her Pilot markers would be seeing.

How did you get involved with Ocean Stars Trust?

(Two years ago) I was a lecturer in special educational needs at Forth Valley College, in Falkirk, Scotland.  One of the classes I had was made up of eight people within the 20 – 40 year old bracket, teaching the subject “Citizenship”  One element of this course required the students to undertake a project of an international flavour to help people less well of than they themselves were.

I introduced to them what Ocean Stars were doing in Sri Lanka, as well as a few other charitable organisations’ work.  The students immediately embraced what Ocean Stars were all about – especially the project for the orphaned boys.  In Sri Lanka, there was no opportunity for boys to progress past formal education unless they had a lot of money.  Our students were shocked there was no free Further Education like there is here for lads to gain skills or apprenticeships and ultimately secure employment.  At that time, the boys drifted to Colombo where they became boy soldiers with the now disbanded Tamil Tigers.  Again the horror of this touched the students’ hearts.

So the students, guided by myself, set about fundraising for Ocean Stars.  They...settled on a clothes collection.  They advertised their idea within the department, but word got round the whole college, and a mountain of clothes arrived to be bagged up...All in all, they raised £500, and at 20p per kilo, that gives you an idea of the amount of clothes generated for the event.

At this time, my husband and I decided to sponsor a child through the charity.  For £10 a month, a child gets food, education and £2.50 in a bank account which can be accessed when the child reaches 18. This small contribution makes such a difference to the sponsored child’s family.

From this, I decided I had to keep the pennies coming in for Ocean Stars.  By this time I had retired, and began knitting Christmas tree decorations in the shape of a Christmas stocking.  Filled with a finger of fudge, I sold them to ex-colleagues, friends, family, and to Scottish Athletics Officials (I’m an official).  I also sold hand-made Christmas gift tags.  This brought in £450.  Then I had the amazing news that I could join the 2011 team on their visit to Sri Lanka if I would like.  Hold me back!!

What kind of work will you be doing in Sri Lanka?

I will be working using the theme of Elmer the Elephant, with nursery age children on educational activities.  Also, because I am a Scottish Athletics Official, I have been asked to run two sports days with the boys at the orphanage, and with the older girls in Trincomalee.  To this end I must thank Scottish Athletics for their kind and generous donation of 60 medals to be presented to the children. (They’ll all get one, not just the race winners!)

I will be playing games, teaching number, and singing songs all with an elephant bias with the children, and on the teacher training morning, I will be using the resources I have made to facilitate the teachers in making height charts made from rubble sacks. They will calibrate the “trunks” and decorate the “ears”, and be shown how to add the children’s names to the chart.  This is where Pilot Pens will be issued to the teachers as the silver paint/ink works really well on grey plastic.

Also, I will be giving a number game to the teachers to take back to their nurseries after they have been shown how to play it.  This involves dice and number cards – again decorated using the silver Pilot Pens.

Other members of the team have other projects in arts and crafts prepared, and I will aid them facilitate the teachers with those resources. As a team, we will be opening a well newly dug at one nursery, and a toilet.  This is a longer – term plan to provide water and sanitation at each of the nurseries.

What kind of specific art projects will you be doing with the children?

  • "Stained glass window” effect elephant templates. Pilot pens ink  makes the “eyes.”
  • Height charts. Pilot pens will be used to decorate the “elephant heads.”
  • Finger painting.
  • Collage.
  • Cutting arty names from folded paper –again pens will be in use here.
  • Making elephant chain decorations from newspaper and detailing facial features using pens.

Was there any particular reason you chose Pilot markers/pens?

I chose silver broad nib Pilot pens because having used one in the past for a wedding book, I was so impressed with it’s durability, and amount of ink.  I felt this type of pen would last a long time after the Ocean Stars visit for the teachers to use for other projects they could devise themselves back in their nurseries.  I am sure the pens live up to their name, and high cost

What is your goal for this trip?

Because this is my first trip to Sri Lanka, my very personal goal on THIS trip is to have a successful sports day, not to let the children down and to be able to hold my head up high with my fellow team members.

I also have the goal of actually opening a well, and pouring a glass of whisky over it to wish it good luck – an old Scottish custom.

In a longer term, goals would to look closely at the orphanage to see how a sustainable vegetable garden could be installed to obviously provide food, but more importantly give the boys skills to garden and sell surplus provisions, and also perhaps set themselves up as gardeners long term to earn a living

Long term, I would like to see a nursery teacher training programme developed across the whole area based on good practise from this country, which is fully facilitated, and to guarantee a regular payment of the teachers.

Finally, I wish to raise awareness of Ocean Stars Trust within businesses and so encourage sponsorship and donations for the bigger projects, and also for individuals to sponsor a child.

Many thanks to Margaret for sharing with us, and for the remarkable work she's doing to help these kids. She's just returned from her trip, so hopefully we'll be able to update you soon on how it went.

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