Moama Anglican Grammar School students and staff have recently returned from their Service Trip to Sri Lanka. Working alongside Habitat for Humanity, the group explored Sri Lankan culture and helped build houses for those who are less fortunate. Students Kerrie Dick and Angus Mawson blogged about their experiences; their second entries are below.

Kerrie Dick
June 21
Larney and I woke to monkeys at our window. The view from our room in Kandy was amazing as we enjoyed the top room of the hotel. It was only a step outside the door to breakfast.
Our journey started, travelling from Kandy to a herb garden, with the rainforest-like atmosphere starting to relax as the rain began.
A guide explained to us the abundance of herbal remedies they made from the herbs surrounding us.
Hair removal cream was made from natural herbs Ben and Lachie kindly tested, leaving a bare patch on both of their legs.
We had a tour of the garden and an opportunity to buy some of the products.
An hour or so later we visited a Buddhist temple where we had a small photo opportunity and we were off to Sigirya – with a lunch break in between. The climb up the rock (Sigirya) began with the ancient story of how the rocks and ruins came to be.
We were joined by other tourists, some locals and Buddhist monks who all held the same goal of reaching the top.
We saw ancient artworks and scaffolding that hung from the side of the rock. After 1011 steps (kindly counted by Angus), we made it to the top.
The view was spectacular but somehow could not be captured with one single photo.
The wind was stronger than ever as it blew hats and hair around and the return to the base of the rock was welcomed by monkeys – and local peddlers.
As we loaded the bus again, ready for our final drive of the day, we were entertained by games and a few wild elephant sightings.
Our bed was warmly welcomed as we enjoyed our meal and easily fell asleep.

June 22
Today was our first build day. After a herbal porridge, with flavours which can’t quite be put into words, we had an orientation of what we were to expect at the build site.
We loaded the bus and made the quick trip there to find palm and coconut trees shading the area as thick layers of sand were laid on the ground.
We were split into our groups and soon after the real work – and real purpose of our visit – began.
Our house had already been started and we later found out it was for a husband and wife with a one-month-old daughter.
The locals were lovely and enjoyed a smile and a wave from us. Our jobs included moving bricks and sand in buckets.
We created a line as the most efficient way to maintain constant delivery of the building materials moving the buckets or bricks to the house.
Three hours later we made our way back to the hotel for lunch and then back to the worksite.
The afternoon was spent digging holes and a lot more relocating of bricks and sand, bucket by bucket.
Quite a few litres of water later we knocked off for the day and set up a casual game of cricket with the local children – who took it very seriously, hitting sixes whenever the chance arose.
After a quick change we drove to the beach for a cool down.
With the temperature hovering around 36C we were delighted to have our first swim on a Sri Lankan beach.
Coconut trees were scattered across the sand and cows roamed freely.
Our meal was demolished in seconds by some and our bed was again warmly welcomed.

Angus Mawson
June 21
We continued on to Kandy, stopping for a browse of the shopping area and then congregated in a sweltering dance hall. Drenched in perspiration, rehydrating like crazy, the curtains opened treating us to a performance of many traditional Sri Lankan dances and acts.
Plate spinners, acrobats and girls dressed as peacocks pranced before three booming drummers and a squeaky bugler.
To top everything off, the finale consisted of two brave souls stamping and fire walking.
We thanked the performers, nabbing a quick photo with them, and exited past the white temple and a lake absolutely infested with catfish, to our bus, which drove us to our hotel.

June 22
We woke up in Kandy to the sight of monkeys outside our window. As we drove out we spotted yet another monkey crossing from the trees to tightrope-walk on the power line. We drove for ages, eventually making it to an assortment of huts just off the roadside. The jungle was thick and verdant.
An ominous cloud hung heavily overhead and a zephyr stirred around our ankles.
We were told we were at a herbal garden; a school of masseuses, natural remedies and elixirs.
Soon the pitter-patter of rain cranked up to the blasting sound of a shower.
We were escorted to a hut filled with rows of seats and a pedestal bearing many bottles and jars.
Our guide handed out sheets numbered with all the different remedies on offer, doing an intriguing performance, demonstrating the hair removal ointment on some of the boys’ legs, handing out sunscreen, mosquito spray and pimple cream for a trial.
We tasted a concoction of cocoa powder, milk powder, water and red banana extract and, following the lesson, were treated to a massage by the clusters of masseuse students.
After investing in some mosquito spray, hair removal ointments and spices, we left the herbal garden.