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The Visions of Hope Project.
I had just closed the homeopathic clinic for the night, when a group of women came knocking requesting my help. They had organized an after-school program for the traumatized children of their community and they wanted to form an NGO so they could find funding.
So we worked together, the result being that the Sri Lanka Children’s Trust found funding to build a centre, and as happens, the centre opened when the Homeopaths without Borders left, so I found myself the director. I learnt so much from my staff, and how to support them so that they could perform daily miracles.
The VOH project flourished.
Sushila Raja, is an incredible lady that has been actively promoting 'Co-Counselling,' In the post-Tsunami Sri Lankan context, she has trained many young co-counsellors, including our VOH team, in a training regime called Synergy.
We focused on nutritional imbalances, especially deficiencies in fibre, vitamins and minerals by providing the children (and staff) with a daily nutritional snack consisting of fresh cow's milk, fresh fruit (local and in season, like banana, papaya, pineapple, sometimes mango), dried fruit like dates or raisins, and boiled legumes (like mung beans, black-eyed peas, and chick peas) or peanuts, etc.
In January 2007 our pre-school program was launched with a donation from Steve & Suyin Karlsen who went on to form the mother foundation.
Running a weekday morning nursery school activities from 8:30-11:30 am, it has been very well received by the community. Their young ones draw sing, dance, play and learn, and of course benefit from the nutritional program and homeopathic treatment.
Homeopathic treatment in our Homeopathic Clinic
Homeopathic Clinic ran in the Listening room. Some children were disruptive, unable to concentrate, upset or simply wanted to talk They were able to come to this this small room to be heard and treated.
The Clinic was not advertised nor due, to generosity of HOG in leaving their homeopathic remedies, did it need any financial support. Usha, our co-counsellor trained translator and I ran the clinic, and with the help and observations of the VOH staff we were able to give consistent homeopathic care to the children of the centre and members of their community.
Fevers are common in the tropics, and we found that the mental and emotional repercussions of the war and the tsunami brought about many physical and psychological symptoms, our children and their community took much comfort in the homeopathic treatment they received in our listing room.
Being in the VOH center, it was incredibly rewarding to witness the children and their community, as they moved from fear and ill health and into much more healthy states.
Many of the children manifested their dis-ease in an inability to absorbed nutrients, here in the UK we would take supplements and adjust our diet, this option was not available to this poor community, the root cause had to be treated. With the combination of the nutritional program and homeopathic treatment, the children became strong, their skin cleared, hair shone, their concentration returned, as they recovered from their trumas and learned to laugh and play again.
Love, Learn, Live & Play
The Visions of Hope Children's Centre provided on a weekly basis for over 85 children aged 4-18;
Tutoring of all the core subjects,
Traditional dance, computer lessons,
‘Synergy’ co-counselling activities,
Volunteers came and brought their skills, their energy and also music and photography.
Moved by the strength of these women, suffering so much loss and trauma, yet determined to rebuild and heal their community. I visited their project. I found a large group of children of all ages, eating and studying in a building that had just about survived the Tsunami.
We also arranged days, educational tours, dental care, photographic classes, local and cultural celebrations, health education for the community and so much more.
What fabulous work.
The Synergy curriculum consists of sun prayer, art, music, dance, yoga, meditation, art, play and games. Through the aesthetic activities, children learn to relax and focus their thoughts. They learn to play in groups, learn leadership skills, and resolve conflict.
Our VOH Team
The Visions of Hope center.
The poor families of the VoH Project eat rice and curry, often with just enough spicy curry to give flavour to the plate of rice; they cannot afford the more nutritional foods. Hence, we aim to address the deficiencies in children's diets. In an effort to affect the taste buds of the children by refraining from adding sugar or salt to our daily snacks, we were able to let the children grow accustomed to the more subtle natural sweetness.
We also provided the parents with health and nutrition days, which were well attended but I doubt if it affected their intake of sugar or salt dramatically.
And most importantly a safe place for the children and their community to take refuge and heal.