Sri Lanka Volunteers

Our partnership with Samutthāna began in 2012 with the birth of our Mental Health Placement. Since then our special relationship has gone from strength to strength, with 2014/2015 being a particularly exciting year for us.

In addition to the Meditation and Creative Therapy workshops Samutthāna provides for our volunteers, in August we had the opportunity to visit the Foundation of Goodness with Samutthāna counselor Duminda Wanigasekera. Here volunteers got to see first-hand some of the great strides being made in mental health treatment.

Visiting one of the places where the 2004 tsunami did the most damage, both physically to the island and emotionally to the local community, was a real eye opener for volunteers, and the overwhelming feedback was that the value of the Foundation of Goodness’s services can’t be overstated.

As well as the two aforementioned Samutthāna workshops, all of the volunteers on the Mental Health Placement get the privilege to work with Mental Health Officer/ Expert, Dr. Jegan. This has always been one of the most popular elements of this placement and this year was no exception Dr. Jegan took unprecedented numbers of volunteers out to work with him in the local community and at addiction centres. Giving selflessly of his time, he even allowed volunteers to work with him on the weekend, which was totally unexpected and extremely generous.

This past year Samutthāna offered our volunteers numerous topical workshops to help enrich an already exciting experience in Sri Lanka.

From lectures on CBT to talks covering Trauma from a Sri Lankan perspective, various mental health professionals, both visiting and resident, gave our volunteers the opportunity to hear about and discuss a more Eastern approach to mental health treatment in a welcoming and safe environment.

As if all of these extra opportunities for volunteers wasn’t enough, towards the end of last year Samutthāna started to offer debriefing sessions on Reflective Practice to our more long-term volunteers – ie. Case discussions and skills development.

The staff at Samutthāna understand how emotionally challenging our placements can be, so the chance to talk over their experiences with Samutthāna’s Executive Director Dushy Parakrama, and mental health professionals like Nivendra Uduman and Duminda Wanigasekera is a real benefit to our placements.

Finally, Samutthāna contributes massively to the monthly Psychology Conferences that are a celebration of SLV volunteers’ accomplishments throughout their placement. Often held at luxurious venues like The Swimming Club and Gerard Mendis Chocolatier, these Conferencesare a once in a lifetime opportunity for volunteers to speak to and get advice from highly respected Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Ganesan.

With the success of 2014, we are anticipating an even better, more exciting 2015. We continue to be impressed with the amount of work Samutthāna is able to undertake and are proud to be working so closely with them. We believe the best is yet to come – so watch this space!