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Chairmans' Messages

Dr. M. Ganesan MD (Psych)
Consultant Psychiatrist

Samutth?na Chairman’s Message

Welcome to Samutthana!

Being a board member of Samutthana since its inception, it was my honour to assume duties as the Chairman of this esteemed Organization as of October 2019. Further, I take this opportunity to convey my deep sadness on the demise of my dear colleague and confidant Dr. Anula Nikapota early 2019. She will be forever remembered for her immense contribution as the Chairman, constantly striving to help Samutthana reach greater heights.

As Chairman of the Samutth?na Board it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to our work. I hope you will get a sense of the different ways in which we pursue our mission to increase capacity building in mental health. The core team at Samutth?na is small but we have volunteers both local and from overseas who increase our professional capacity. Networking is another crucial way we increase the scope of our work.

A vital link for Samutth?na is that with the UK-Sri Lanka Trauma Group which initiated this organisation in Sri Lanka and continues to be involved in many ways.

Samutthana is now focusing more on sustainability and as in the past we have contributed significantly towards enriching the mental health sector by working in line with our mission, objectives and values.

WE are positive about what we do but are aware of the many challenges we face, as well as limitations and shortcomings.

We sincerely appreciate our program participants, facilitators and the dedicated workforce, without which we would not have achieved the mission and goals of Samutthana.

Dr Shamil Wanigaratne
D.Clin.Psych, FBPsS., FBABCP
Chair, UK-Sri Lanka Trauma Group

UK-Sri Lanka Trauma Group – Chairman’s Message

In 1996, a group of expatriate Sri Lankan and British mental health professionals came together to find a practical way of working in partnership with professionals in Sri Lanka respond to the continuing war related trauma in the country. They held the first conference on the psychological aspects of trauma in collaboration with the Sri Lankan Medical Association in Colombo in 1996 and followed this up with a variety of workshops and training sessions for medical practitioners, policy makers and leaders in education.

In 1999, the group registered as the UK Sri Lanka Trauma Group (UKSLTG) Charity in the United Kingdom.  UKSLTG has forged relationships with numerous individuals and voluntary bodies who are engaged in trauma and mental health work in Sri Lanka. These links serve to inform the group of areas of need where help can be channelled.

In 2004 the devastating tsunami stuck the island and the country faced unprecedented devastation and trauma. Some members of the UK-SLTG were in Sri Lanka at the time and got involved in the immediate response.  Others soon followed and got involved in psychological first aid work and the government’s response. The images of the devastation broadcast around the world brought in an outpouring of sympathy and help. Unfortunately, not all the help, particularly the psychosocial help, was appropriate and helpful.  It became evident to us that if we had a base to operate from we could make a substantial contribution to build capacity to deal with the existing situation. When King’s College London and Maudsley Hospital offered to help, we requested help to set up a resource centre.  The development office of King’s College worked with UK-SLTG to develop a bid to apply to charities for a grant to establish such a centre.  Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (CAFOD) responded with a generous grant, a first in their history for a capacity building resource centre. With a fair amount of negotiations and preparatory work Samutthãna the King’s College London Resource Centre for Trauma Displacement and Mental Health was established in May 2006.  The name Samutthãna meaning renewal or regeneration in Sanskrit was suggested by Padmal De Silva, a founding member of UK-SLTG, who was a Sanskrit scholar.  It is with much sadness that I recall untimely death of Padmal in 2008. His contribution to capacity building in Sri Lanka was enormous and he could have given so much more.

In the 12years, Samutthãna has achieved a lot. Helping to establish the first Clinical Psychology training course at the Faculty of Graduate Studies at the University of Colombo, with a generous grant from the Lupina Foundation of Canada, the certificate course in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and awareness raising events highlighting childhood sexual abuse, service user involvement, are some of the highlights. UK-SLTG has worked closely with Samutthana in all of these projects.

After the CAFOD grant was spent, the responsibility of maintaining Samutthãna fell on UK-SLTG.  South London and Maudsley Charitable Trust and the Bromley Trust, have over a 9 year period, provided us with a lifeline to keep Samutthana going.  I am pleased that this burden has now eased with Samutthãna raising much of its own funds in Sri Lanka, largely thanks to a partnership with SL-Volunteers.

The partnership between UK-SLTG and Samutthãna is a strong and the commitment remains unchanged. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the executive director and the board of Samutthãna for their sterling work to increase the activity and strength of the organisation. I would like to thank the Trustees of UK-SLTG for all their hard work and keeping the charity going despite their busy work and family commitments. I would also like to reiterate my thanks to CAFOD, King’s College, South London and Maudsley Trust and South London and Maudsley Charity Trustees, the Lupina Foundation, the Bromley Trust, the European Union and the numerous donors whose contribution has made our work possible. Last but not least I would like to thank all the volunteers who contribute their time and energy in many ways to our work, without whom we could not have achieved what we have.

“She filled our lives with happiness and sweet feelings that we will carry in our hearts forever.”

With the passing of our dear chairperson Dr Anula Nikapota, Samutth?na has lost a great and passionate leader. Her personal courage and dedication towards the upliftment of Samutth?na will be forever remembered.

I have known Anula for many years and still striving to come to terms with this sad untimely death. Anula was one of the strongest women I have worked with and she was always determined and focused. Her passion in devoting her time for working with children and their training needs was amazing.

She was instrumental in mainstreaming the whole operations of Samutth?na, as the Chairman, she was passionate about her work. She was a great mentor and enjoyed travelling.

We at Samutth?na have been enhanced by the strength, energy, and vision of Anula and are determined to continue her good work, we are confident that the legacy of her exceptional work will extend far into the future, We have lost a great Chairman, a wonderful person, and a dear friend.

Tribute to Our Former Chairman
By Dr Shamil Wanigaratne
Chairman – UK-SLTG