My first week in Sri Lanka has flown in! It has been a week of orientation, visiting projects, settling in to the culture and overcoming a wee bit jetlag. I have already learned so much about this beautiful place and the role I will be playing in it’s social services. The first few days were orientation training organised by SLV that were really informative, fast paced and well organised to teach us everything we need to know to carry out our work and get the best out of our experience in Sri Lanka. We visited Psychiatric Facilities, Child Development Centres, Schools and Residential Centres in and around Colombo, engaging in projects and receiving talks about the facilities from consultants that work there.
We learned about socio-cultural perspectives in Sri Lanka, the dominant treatments and interventions, mental health and disability statistics and the kind of backgrounds of the people we will be working with. Historically, Sri Lankan attitudes toward mental health and disability have been rooted in karma whereby karma justifies the existence of any impairment. As such, these groups face lots of discrimination and Sri Lankan social services are working toward creating an inclusive, equal society. I hope our work here can impact positively on this goal!
At the weekend we visited the Tsunami museum, a harrowing and eye-opening exhibition of photos from during and after the disaster. I found it incredibly emotional – the woman running the museum told us that she lost all of her family and still doesn’t know what happened to them. I think it was an important experience for me in helping me to begin to understand the kind of trauma that might effect some of the populations we are working with here.
This weekend was also our first chance to relax and explore this magical place. We ventured down to Unawatuna, stayed in the amaaazing Kahuna Hotel (Below) for about £15(!), drank beers, ate delicious food and celebrated one of the girl’s birthday (Roshni :)). Here are some snaps and a wee vid.