Befriender

SLVeteran Rachel

Education: Psychology with Sport and Exercise Science - University of Chester, UK

SLV.Global Placement: Mental Health Placement, August 2015

Current Role: Studying MRes Psychology and volunteering as a befriender at an end of life hospice. 

Tell us about your SLV.Global experience: 'Right from my application, to stepping off the plane, the village tour upon arrival, induction day and throughout the 5-week placement, the SLV team were so helpful in making us feel welcome and at home in Sri Lanka. Weeks before jetting off, I realised what I had signed up for and was overwhelmed with worry. Would I be good enough in the role? Will I make friends? Will I get lost? I’m so glad now I ignored those niggles. It definitely was not the easiest thing I have done in my life, some days were harder than others, but I honestly had an unforgettable experience. This placement has definitely set me up for a career within mental health.'

'Monday mornings consisted of project planning for the week ahead. Each session lasted either a morning or afternoon. I enjoyed all of my projects which were swimming teaching, the mental health hospital, SEN school, young boys’ orphanage, college, community group and rehabilitation group. They involved a lot of teaching English games, art, music and drama therapy. I enjoyed the hospital the most, probably because it was the reason I flew out in the first place. It was different to anything I had ever experienced before; the language barrier was also a difficulty but I got through it (with help from the Sinhala lesson during the induction day)'

'As well as projects I was able to use my weekends to explore Sri Lanka, and realise what a beautiful country it actually is. From beaches, to cultural spots, the countryside, safaris and historical landmarks. It's something I don't think I'd ever have explored without the opportunity SLV gave me. It’s certainly a different culture to that here in the UK. There’s the obvious clothing restrictions on projects and in the villages, the food, the public buses are definitely not an experience to miss, tuktuks and the fruit markets are amongst all the great Sri Lankan ways that I miss each day.'

Tell us what you gained from the placement: 'This experience really has helped me grow as an individual. It has allowed me to see the world, and the area of mental health from a whole new perspective. Knowing you are part of something that is helping increase the quality of life of hundreds of people out in Sri Lanka is truly rewarding.'