Love, Learn, Live & Play

Closing the homeopathic clinic for the night, a group of women came knocking on my door requesting my help. They had organized an after-school program, teaching their traumatized children in a home that was left standing. The women wanted to form an NGO so they could find funding to continue to run the program.
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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.
It is now generally recognised that those who are active and move beyond the feeling of hopelessness and help to rebuild their community, manage the grief and trauma better and are more likely to be able to rebuild, and move on to have more for filling lives.
The children of the Visions of Hope children's centre
The education system in Sri Lanka is dependent on the children taking private classes to complete the curriculum. Children from families that could not afford to private tuition and so could not be achieve at school regardless of their ability and they could not even dream of further education, collage or University.

 
Working together with the Sri Lanka Children’s Trust we found funding to build a children's centre, ran by women and focused around the children and their community.

The Visions of Hope Children's center was build in the heart of the community. Ran by the community, to serve the community. As I found my way as the director, I learnt so much from the staff, the women of the community, and how to support them so that they could perform daily miracles.
Visions of Hope education centre
The Visions of Hope Children's Centre provided the much needed after school tuition for the local children. The local women ran the center and took and assisted with the classes. We hired qualified teachers for the core subjects. arranges for computer lessons, Swimming lessons, traditional dance, a nutritional program, dentists, tooth brushes and nit combs.

Sushilla Raja came with her wealth of experience and trained the  staff in co-counselling and to run synergy clubs designed to heal trauma through play. This grounded the center, its tentacles reached out into the community, it was as if Sushilla Raja came with a second tsunami of love and hope.

The centre ran educational and synergy activities that over 85 children aged 4-18 attended daily. 

Actively rebuilding their community, the children and the staff began to create a beating heart in their community. The This devastated community started to dream again, and with the access the psychological tools to rebuild and the education the ability to realise their dreams.
Tutoring of all the core subjects and more, this devastated community began not only to dream but to realise those dreams
The VOH project flourished.
Swimming lessons
Small classes
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Traditional dance
computer lessons
Puja, Kattragama Amma 
Play
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A celebration meal for all.
What  fabulous work.
Volunteers came and brought their skills, energy music and photography.

The Women of the Visions of Hope children's centre, arranged educational tours, dental care, photographic classes, local and cultural celebrations, health education and a centre for the community.

The Visions of Hope Children's centre is owned and ran by the local women, a safe place for their children and community to take refuge and heal.

'Synergy' co-counselling

Sushila Raja, provided the tools to help the healing process.
Sushila Raja, is an incredible woman 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 and the translators  that worked in the Homeopathic clinic.

Sushila also trained the VOH staff to run Synergy clubs for the children to give the tools and the love to heal their trauma and move into the future with hope.
The Synergy curriculum consists of so much including the sun prayer, the use of art, music, dance, yoga, meditation, art, play and games as an expression of themselves and recognition of their emotions.

Through the aesthetic activities, children learn to relax and focus their thoughts. They learn to heal through play, to reconnect with each other playing in groups, learn leadership skills, learning to understand when others act out their emotions and so the art of resolving conflict.

Nutritional Program

We focused on nutritional imbalances, especially deficiencies in fiber, 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.
Daily bowl of fruit
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.  
Cup of fresh warm milk
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.
We also provided the parents with health and nutrition education days, which were well attended.

Pre-school Program

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, from our Synergy trained local staff.

They also 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 encouraged to come to this this small room to rest, 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-counselor 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.
Love, Learn, Live & Play
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