Help Me Help Mental Health In Sri Lanka!

Caitlin Marks Start Date: Aug 4, 2016 - End Date: Oct 31, 2016
  • Leadership/Training Program
  • Missionary Service
  • Volunteer Trip
  • Sri Lanka

My Travel Story

by: Caitlin Marks Start Date: Aug 4, 2016 - End Date: Oct 31, 2016
  • Leadership/Training Program
  • Missionary Service
  • Volunteer Trip
Volunteering in Sri Lanka:
I'll be joining SLV in Sri Lanka for 5 weeks from December to Januar on their Level 1 Mental Health Placement! SLV is a voluntary organization which was started in 2010 by a psychology graduate from the UK. SLV runs projects to help the local community, while simultaneously helping students and graduates gain valuable experience in a totally different culture. I'll be loaning my skills to this organization, and am really looking forward to developing new skills and gaining insight into what I see myself doing as a career.

What exactly will I be doing?
I'll be working with individuals who suffer with mental illnesses. I'll be running activities for patients and using sensory, music, and creative therapies to engage with patients on a variety of wards in multiple institutions. I'll also be attending workshops run by Samutthana, the King's College London resource center for trauma, displacement, and mental health. Their main aim is to train and support organizations and individuals to respond to the psychosocial needs of trauma suffererers (i.e., tsunami survivors and those who have experienced civil-conflict in Sri Lanka).

In addition to these projects, I'll also be working with individuals with special needs, and teaching English to children and to young people on vocational courses. I'll be using my skills to work with those who may be marginalized in Sri Lankan society. I'll be living, along with other volunteers, with a Sri Lankan family.

Why is this important?
I'm so grateful to have found this opportunity for many reasons, a few being:

1) It's ethical, it's sustainable - it's not "voluntourism".
2) It's not about a fun trip for me, it's about serving the Sri Lankan community and figuring out where our passions/skills meet their needs. Please take a few minutes to watch some of the videos I've linked under "Online Information" to get just a glimpse of the need for the kinds of services SLV provides.
3) I couldn't have imagined a better-suited experience for me. I have really struggled just as many of these patients have, over many years, however I am fortunate enough to have access to Western healthcare and progressive views. Thus, any assistance I can give back once over there would give me immense humility and gratitude.

What is it like living and volunteering with SLV in Sri Lanka?

What makes SLV different?

Training for Volunteers

Training for working with vulnerable children in Sri Lankais led by a Director of Social Work in Sri Lanka. The workshop covers safeguarding children, guidelines for behaviour management and examples of how to create activity sessions. Kids are can be a handful in every culture, this workshop will help to make sure you respond to all situations appropriately. Training for working with those with special needs in Sri Lanka is facilitated by a Sri Lankan speech and language pathologist. The workshop provides an overview of how people with special needs are viewed and treated in Sri Lanka and how we can best work with these service users. We explore examples of activities to improve cognitive, motor and language skills as well as how best to work with the staff at the centres where you’ll be working. Even those of you with loads of experience will need to know how best to work within the Sri Lankan culture. Just another string to add to your bow! Teaching workshops are led by the International team and include an explanation of the syllabus and lesson planning using the British Council resources. Don’t worry if you don’t feel ready to stand in front of a class and deliver a lesson. You’ll never teach alone and there’s safety in numbers. Introductory sessions at projects take place three times in your training week and aim to give you an accurate idea of how the projects run. You’ll be accompanied by Coordinators, so they’ll be able to show you the ropes.

This Campaign:
Those of you who know me well probably can imagine how uncomfortable this is for me - I am notorious for being horrible at accepting help! To help me (and you!) feel more at peace with these donations, I have some little incentives for my supporters:

- A donation is a donation, no matter how small! Everyone who supports my work in Sri Lanka will receive my eternal love and gratitude, and a HUGE thank you!
- For $50+:  a postcard with a little note from me while I'm in Sri Lanka (you'll just have to message me your mailing address)
- For $100+: the above, plus a personal photo OR video thank-you/shout-out from Sri Lanka
- For $250+: all of the above, plus lots of happy tears on my part, my undying devotion, and I will bring you back a small souvenir/trinket

THANK YOU in advance for your generosity and support (whether it's monetary or moral)!

  • Sri Lanka