Upon arrival to your homestay, you’ll find your individual "Project Pack" in a tote bag on your bed. This contains your placement timetable and has been designed especially for you.
Your projects will run from Monday to Friday and repeat on a weekly basis. Everyone’s timetable will involve a minimum of six different projects, which you can find more about below.
Types of Projects
+ Activity Support (AS)
These projects take place in a clinical or community setting. Here you’ll be expected to get creative and really think about how best to help individuals who are all at varying stages of their recovery. Focus on a particular skill, like improving short-term memory, and form an interactive activity around this.
+ English for Development (EFD)
These projects take place in schools or vocational training institutes. English is a real commodity in Sri Lanka and you have the tools to help provide individuals with better career prospects and increased confidence just by speaking with your students! In addition to the practical side of English language teaching, there's also so much more you're doing.
When working in developing countries, seemingly simple, daily skills, which we take for granted, can often be overlooked, but should really be prioritised. According to a report conducted by the WHO, the skills often neglected in the developing world, but intrinsically linked to mental health are: decision-making, problem-solving, creative and critical thinking, effective communication, interpersonal skills, self-awareness and coping with emotions and stress.
In our experience, we have found that our EFD projects are a great opportunity for volunteers to role model healthy social habits and behaviours with the aim of further developing these skills amongst students and encouraging progression - both personally and professionally.
+ Children's Development (CD)
We partner with a number of children's development centres, primary schools and after school clubs to provide extracurricular English lessons. Our aim is to be role models, but not caregivers to children who are often marginalised by poverty and circumstance. There are also opportunities to coach sports such as swimming, football and cricket.
+ Special Education Activity Support (SEAS)
Alongside the psychiatric facility, you'll work in a number of schools and initiatives for those with specific needs. With an average of 26% of inpatients who reside in UK psychiatric facilities displaying overlapping additional needs, like autism or a brain injury, this is most definitely a client group you should become familiar working with.
These projects are challenging, but will put your knowledge of developmental psychology to good use. You can use a combination of physical and mental activities to really unlock the creative potential of these service users.
+ Community Outreach (CO)
These projects take place in the local community and have been requested by local community members. You could be running an after school club for kids aged 5 - 18 or running an English class for those aged 9 - 90! These projects mean so much that some people walk for miles just to attend.
Potential project disruptions
Although we make every effort to ensure your timetable isn't disrupted during your time with us, some things are unavoidable. Please read on for further information about potential project disruptions.
+ Project Cancellations
Unfortunately, not all things in life are predictable, and that can sometimes include your projects in Sri Lanka. Whilst SLV.Global take every effort to ensure that projects run on a regular basis, sometimes last minute cancellations, which are out of our control, mean that we have to find an alternative project for you to attend that week. For this reason, we value flexibility in our volunteers and an openness to jumping into last minute project changes. Sometimes, something as simple as heavy rain can lead to a project being cancelled if the service users have to travel a long way to attend.
‘Tea parties’ (donations of food from the local community) at CD projects are also an occasional occurrence, which may take focus from your planned activities.
Things like a bus strike wouldn’t really affect things in the West, but in Sri Lanka, often the country can grind to a halt and we need to roll with it. Try not to get annoyed or frustrated, it’s just the way things are sometimes and the sooner you adopt an easygoing, Sri Lankan attitude to interruptions, the better.
+ Field trip changes
Although we do our best to standardise everyone’s experience, we can’t standardise everything. You may be working with a different mental health professional to your friend who is on the same placement. Or someone may be ill, forcing the field trip to be postponed or held with more volunteers than were originally planned to attend. This is totally beyond our control and we appreciate your understanding.
+ Public holidays
Sri Lanka has many public holidays and you may have a few during your placement. Usually projects are cancelled on these days, as the service users will be engaged in their own celebrations. For example, Poya Days are celebrated each month on the full moon. These days are set aside for worship, so projects will be cancelled. Again, this is something we can’t change, nor would we want to. Participating in the local customs is all part of the awesomeness of volunteering abroad.
Your working week begins with Session Planning on a Monday morning, with your final project of the week finishing on a Friday afternoon, which means you've got your whole weekend free to explore the gorgeous island however you choose. WOOT!
We expect you to commit to the full working week each week unless, of course, you need to take some time off for your physical or mental well being.
Of course we understand that getting sick happens, and it’s not fun for everyone, but please be courteous and let your Peer Mentor know as soon as possible so that they can arrange cover for you. We’ll get you the treatment you need, whether it’s from a pharmacist, a doctor or going to the hospital, but please do inform us and don’t suffer in silence. We’re here to help and get you back fighting fit.
+ Taking leave from projects
Your timetable has been designed to ensure that you have an opportunity to take part in a variety of projects and cannot be changed. Some projects you may love, some you may find more challenging, but we’re all here to get involved and commit to a full week of work.
Volunteers cannot take leave for travel or other personal commitments. We plan timetables so that volunteers are never working or travelling alone, so choosing not to attend a project may result in it being cancelled that week, which will in turn affect the work we are ultimately able to do. Please bear this in mind when making plans for parents or partners to visit you. You will only be able to see them at the weekend and we will not be able to make an exception.
If you choose to be absent from your projects you will be removed from the team with immediate effect. Remember, this placement will be difficult at times and it’s not a holiday, so we expect you to conduct yourself as if you were at work, not on Spring Break.
Planning sessions for your projects
Monday mornings are put aside for session planning with the rest of your team. Your project ideas should be well thought out and should always have a mental health focus, no matter the project. Please consider how your session will help to promote positive mental health and try not to fall back on "arts and crafts" each week. Because really, who does that benefit? Not the service users and certainly not your experience level. Make the most of your bank of knowledge and share! You're here to use your skills and experience to make a difference, not to colour in.
Here you'll find some ideas, but please do your own research and come up with some exciting session plans yourself. Make your voice heard and think outside the box to really make the most of your time on placement with us.