Inspired Words

These are the experiences of our volunteers in TRIP Canada Program.

Team TRIP Canada makes great leaps in Sri Lanka

Posted in TRIP Canada Program on April 24, 2018

Team 14 Ready to Go!

18 volunteers…3 families ready for new homes….4 rooms to finish at Canadapura orphanage

2017 was a terrific year with much success in TRIP Canada’s building initiatives, education programs, fundraising and volunteer development. With this momentum, Team 14 has an incredible opportunity to complete 4 building projects in April.

The team is a mix of experienced volunteers – 2 marking their 10th anniversary – and new people keen to make a difference. They are coming from western Canada, the US and Ontario.


Manjula’s New Home:

One project the team will tackle is building a new home for Manjula and his family. They had much of their home destroyed in the devastating 2017 rains and flooding – the worst in Sri Lankan history. Manjula is physically disabled but works whenever he can as a mason’s assistant to support his wife, a garbage collector, and children. They struggle to make ends meet and would never be able to rebuild their outside kitchen, well, toilet and the walls of their home. The first photo is the family a few weeks after the storm with their walls held together by donated tin. The second is the their new home that the volunteer will complete. A special thanks to our donors for providing the funding to get started!


And One for Ishandra:

Another major project is a new home for Ishandra’s family. Ishandra collects old tires which he repairs for resale or cuts up and sells the rubber to shoe factories. His wife Nilmi cares for their two children – both with muscular dystrophy. Ishan, 12, is confined to a wheel chair. Kamili, 15, still walks but will need a wheel chair soon. The May 26th floods washed away all Ishandra’s tires, his tools and their home. TRIP Canada is building a new wheel chair accessible home for this family with small sitting room, two bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen. Pictured is the family right after the flood and the progress of their new home.

Team 14 is up and running!



The volunteers started to arrive on Saturday – some traveling on their way here – all excited to get started. Sunday we visited the worksites and met the families and children we would be spending time with. The return to the orphanage meant a great deal to the volunteers and the children who were all dressed up to greet us. Throughout the day we had visits with a number of the students in TRIP Canada’s education program.

Monday – up for an early breakfast and the team divided into three groups for different worksites – and three new family homes.

“Team Don” travelled to Thigoda at 7:30 to work at the home furthest away. When they had the opportunity to see how the family is living now they knew their time was going to be well spent. After meeting the family, Anura, Nilmini, Tamali (15) and Ishan (12) they set to work learning the fine art of plastering and Sri Lanka style house painting.

Stacie was a great coach for Kelly, Janet and Jim as they learned to “parge”. Hilary loved being back at it and fearless leader Don only hit his head once. People  had just as much fun painting each other as they did the walls and Jim had only one minor “parge attack.”


“Team Am” met Jagathe, Nishanthi, Hiruni (15), Ravindu (11) and Thavindu (2). On the walls of their old home Jagathe showed how the flood waters came almost to the roof of his house. Then they went down the road to the site of the new family home where they would be starting from the foundation.


According to Buddhist tradition there are certain hours of the day that you are not supposed to start something new. Nine o’clock was a special time so, although they were very anxious to go, the team could not start building the new walls until after the hour passed. Ron and Am are old hands at this so started moving the stacks of bricks giving teammates Kelly, Gretchen and Chris an opportunity to learn a new skill.

It was a long, hot day but much was accomplished and the walls were at least 6′ tall by the end of the day – maybe 8′. Lots to celebrate with new friends!

Working alongside the volunteers are a number of the local labourers who helped build Ketakalawatta in 2005 after the tsunami. They are thrilled to have us back – Senevi and Kal are wonderful teachers and the brick layers caught on quickly.


The house where “Team Bruce”  (or BT and the Girls) is working, is part of a family community with multiple generations, lovely children running around and lots of dogs! Manjula, Anusha, Lasith (17) and Kavindu (2), will behapp y to move to their new home.


Susan, Deborah, Stephanie, Bruce, Coleen and Terry’s task for the day – laying cement on all the floors. This involves shovelling stones and sand, mixing in cement and then creating a chain gang to pass buckets through the house to the room we are working on. Staring with the kitchen the team pressed on taking turns at the different tasks.


While they had time for a breaks with nice cups of tea and cookies, lunch and also time to play with the children, they worked so hard that they finished early at 2pm. Wonderful local workers to help and teach – a great team effort!!

Everyone happy to get back to our new home at Moonstone, jump in the pool or the ocean and share stories of their first day. All wondered at how happy these Sri Lankan people are with so little. We are all truly blessed.


Work Ahead of Schedule – Student Celebrations



On Monday night the volunteers welcomed a number of the students in TRIP Canada’s education program. We presented watches to two new graduates – one in Engineering and the other in Biology – and celebrated the success of all our university scholarship students. Sashini, our very first medical doctor, is on maternity leave and came to introduce her son Vihan.

TEAM “HERMIE” – Now honouring a favourite dog at the site nicknamed Hermie by the team, the volunteers made huge progress at the home of Andura and Nilmini. Our goal is to have this one done by the time we leave next week.

It was more experience in concrete with pouring of a paved walkway around the house – Jim and Don took the lead on this. Kelly and Janet have been promoted to join the class of “mason” with Hilary and Stacie. Susan joined the team today to add her painting expertise and the whole inside of the house is now done. Great job by all and many thanks to the workers who make the day go so smoothly

TEAM MARGARITAVILLE – It is no coincidence that a Jimmy Buffett atmosphere has descended on Bruce’s worksite. Manjula lives within a small community of seven family homes – his is closest to the rice paddy field and sustained the most significant damage from the floods.  There are lots of kids around as it is a school break.

The big job today is more plastering. The kids join in to help  sift the sand. Then Bruce and Darshana hand mix the plaster and deliver to the “pargers”. Stephanie, Terry, Don, Coleen and Deborah all excelled at this.

Believe it or not you can get rock music from an English station here so there was lots of singing and dancing at the site. Although they didn’t need lessons, the kids loved teaching Coleen and Deb to dance and skip!

After finishing most of the inside parging here, the team earned an afternoon tea break. Job well done!

GOOD MORNING SUNSHINE CREW – An apt name as the sun is shining brilliantly and this is a very hot site with even the Sri Lankan workers wearing hats. Never before seen that! This team moves fast anyway. By 11:00am cement mixed, bricks moved (maybe for second or third time!!), two more walls done and corners DONE.

Moving on to the next level – getting bricks to roof height – was a challenge to most of us. Lots of moving – scaffolding, bricks, cement – looks impressive. A tough day – lots done – WHEW!

Everyone very happy with the results!

 Team Intrepid Tackles Rainy Wednesday




In spite of threatening skies, Team 14 headed out early to keep moving each project forward. Today was a first for getting back to Canadapura – the children’s orphanage we have worked on for the last two years. The job is to start painting the second floor rooms and Susan, Ron, Coleen and Stacie took it on. As Stacie shared it was a very peaceful day with lots of progress:

“Listened to music while we painted two rooms and two bathrooms. Had some laughs along the way and enjoyed the gentle rainfall. It was a quiet day as the kids are still on break so we’re looking forward to them coming back so we can see them.”

Not so peaceful at Team Amalie. Am, Jim, Terry and Kelly were outside as their house is several days away from having a roof. Am declares that she is really not a slave driver, “the work is just hard here.” The workers and volunteers are putting the final touches to the brick work on the walls. There is a fine art to preparing the walls and framework for the lentels.

Then a lot cement mixing, slugging and reaching to get the “mud” to the real experts.

The team scribe (Jim) was clearly overworked as his key observations focused on the number of times bricks were moved (too many), food preferences of the local dogs (fried rice) and the kids (cookies – of course). Good job team – this house is taking shape.

Meanwhile Bruce and his team are shaking things up at Manjula’s house. In between anointing Master Pargers (Gretchen, Hilary, and Kelly), Janet became the Master Shovel Slinger and Stephanie and Chris the Queens of Sifting.

Bruce is missing in action on the highest scaffolding while Janet informs the workers that they are personally responsible for his safety. There clearly had to be lots of other interesting things going on during work and tea breaks that shall remain unpublishable. Hilary references: “lotus blossom”, “butter cup” and “sunshine” bonding with a cement ceremony; lots of boogying; and being chastised for thin cement by Nilantha. the head mason, who clearly adores her.

Let’s just say all had great fun and what happens on the site, stays on the site!

A Very Rewarding Day

Thursday dawns hot and clear with plans to make considerable progress at all the houses. The home for the two special needs children is close to completion, for Manjula’s more plaster, and at Jagath’s it is time to start some “inside” work.

For Coleen, Terry, Gretchen and Janet it was very exciting to arrive at Aruna’s to add some finishing touches to the painting. The very caring work crew here were completing the ramp to facilitate Ishan’s wheelchair and the verandah is extra large so he will be able to sit outside. The carpenter, who made all the doors and windows, offered to build a table for the family. It is a beautiful work of art.

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