Katherine works as a Coordinator for Asha Trust, a UK funded charity that supports communities and groups in need, in and around Colombo. She supports the local teams that work with people in need ensuring that they have the resources and training they need to support people in improving their lives.
Sharing office space with Samutthāna means that Asha Trust and I are able to work in a supportive environment with people who have similar goals and interests. I have also benefitted enormously from the numerous workshops that I have been able to attend, gaining further insight into psychological issues which has certainly helped to develop some of the work Asha Trust does with children and adults in need living in the community.
Of particular interest have been workshops on the impact of drug and alcohol addiction on children as well as workshops on supporting those with disabilities. What is great about the workshops is that experts in their field are able to share their knowledge and experience all with a Sri Lankan perspective; very relevant for the work Asha Trust does.
The wider team and partners at Asha Trust have also benefited enormously from Samutthāna’s support. The RCCI (Rehabilitation Centre for the Communication Impaired), a wonderful school for children and young people with disabilities, who accept students regardless of financial means is one of Asha Trust’s key partners. We currently fund the education of some of the children with autism who attend. Samutthāna has had a lot of input there supporting the teachers with the challenges they face with working with children with behavioural difficulties. The team at Samutthāna has been able to provide the space for them to discuss their issues and think about how these can be resolved using particular techniques taught to them. Concentrated input from Nivendra Uduman and Louise Gordon has also ensured the teachers are working better as a team as well.
This year, Samutthāna is helping us set up peer support groups for people in need of mental health support in one of the key areas that we work in
This is a low income community in Mount Lavinia and many people who live there face multiple challenges on a daily basis linked to poverty and its consequences. This is an exciting development for us and an important step towards improving the emotional support that people who access Asha Trust services receive. Sincere gratitude to Dr Lorna Fortune and Dorian Cole for being instrumental in setting up these sustainable peer support groups, one for women and one for men.
A further initiative that Asha Trust has been able to support was with the input of Nivendra and one of his many extra-curricular activities. For some time now, he has been ‘clowning’ to children in need and we were really excited to invite him to Prithipura Communities, an organisation with four locations in Sri Lanka that offers a home, education, rehabilitation and work opportunities to children and adults with disabilities who have no or limited family support. He took his clowning skills to an event they had organised and really showed how ‘clowning’ and ‘therapy’ can be combined. The afternoon event that he was part of was attended by over 200 children and adults with disabilities.
The partnership between Asha Trust and Samutthana is a mutually beneficial one and I would like to thank the team at Samutthana as well as the visiting Psychologists and other experts, all of whom are a joy and inspiration to be around on a daily basis.
To find out more about Asha Trust, please visit our website: www.ashatrust.co.uk.