Students swap pina coladas for paint brushes

11 Jul 2011 15:37:28.157

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Not content with a demanding work schedule during term time, 32 University of Nottingham medical and psychology students are using their holidays to improve the lives of people in Sri Lanka.

The volunteers are spending a month in and around the island’s second city, Kandy, where they will work at a school for children with special needs, improve facilities at a local hospital and shadow resident doctors.

Organised by the Sri Lankan Society, the ‘Rebuild Lanka’ team consists of British, Indian, Libyan, Malaysian, Singaporean and Sri Lankan students, all keen to build their own experience while improving the lives of local people.

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Society President, Charindri Wariyapola, explained: “For the volunteers we hope this will help build teamwork and develop an understanding of the vibrant cultures in Sri Lanka. The ability to work with people from various backgrounds is key to jobs many of us will do in the future.

“The experience gained from working with children in the school and visiting various hospitals, we hope will give the volunteers an understanding of the hardships that some people face and the inspiration to tackle obstacles even if the future looks grim.”

Having now been in Sri Lanka for a week, the team have been treated to a traditional welcoming ceremony, visited temples and been taught the basics in the languages of Tamil and Sinhala.

However, after a tour of the Mampitiya Divisional Hospital highlighted the scale of the task ahead, all members realise the importance of the work they have taken on.

The students are working in two equal groups. The first group will work at the Mampitiya Divisional Hospital, both improving its infrastructure and shadowing doctors. Specific work will include: building a boundary fence, painting, renovating water lines and setting up a waste disposal unit and incinerator.

The second group will help with the daily activities and teaching at Blue Rose School for children with special needs, which is run by Service Civil International. This will give an opportunity for the volunteers to see how children with Down's syndrome and other disabilities cope.

Charindri continued: “We as the Sri Lankan Society wanted to give something back to our country.

“We hope that the renovation of the hospital will greatly improve its infrastructure and that this will benefit it greatly in the long term. The Blue Rose School is run completely on donations and we are looking at sponsoring them for the duration of a year. The presence of this school gives the students a place to interact with society where they would otherwise have no place.”

As well as lending a helping hand, the volunteers plan to make donations to their respective placements, with hospital equipment and money towards the school’s running costs in high demand. These donations will be made up from the money collected by the students and a contribution from the University’s Annual Fund.

The Annual Fund uses donations received principally from alumni, to support projects which directly enhance the student experience, or which add to the University’s student outreach or community activities:  

For more information about this project, please visit

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.

The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

More news from the University at:  

Story credits

For more information please contact Charindri Wariyapola, Sri Lankan Society President, The University of Nottingham, at
Harry Waddle

Harry Waddle - Students Communications Officer

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 823 2353 Location: University Park

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