Residential Child Care Support Worker

SLVeteran Danielle

Education: Psychological Science - Flinders University, Australia

SLV.Global Placement: Graduate Mental Health Placement, September 2016

Current Role: Residential Child Care Support Worker

Tell us about your SLV.Global experience: 'I will describe my average day as a Volunteer Mental Health Worker in Sri Lanka. I have a bit of a sleep in today because my Special Needs project doesn’t start until 9.30 and it’s only a 15 min walk away, score! Some days, I would leave the house at 7:50am for an hours commute by public bus and tuk tuk to get to my project for a 9am start. I head down for breakfast straight away of bread, bananas, jam and tea, and leave the homestay a little after 9 to get to the meeting point to meet up with three other volunteers on the same project as me and then walk the rest of the way together. Today we are making lanterns with the special needs children out of tissue paper and popsicle sticks but first we will start with some basic yoga poses and stretches to get everyone active. While we are doing the craft activity, some will need more help than others because they all have slightly varied abilities. With 4 volunteers to approx. 12 service users, everyone is able to make their own lanterns with our assistance. The lovely ladies who run the centre serve us tea and biscuits toward the end of the session, and the session is finally finished with the Hokey Cokey dance, which creates a lot of smiles and laughter among everyone.'

'On our walk back from the project, we treat ourselves to a fresh coconut from a stall on the side of the road. I have a big break today until I have to meet for my afternoon project so I decide to go home and have lunch there. I might need to gather a few resources for my projects tomorrow so I go by the local bookshop (which has ALL the craft supplies) on the way home to buy some supplies. After lunch I make sure I leave the house with plenty of time to go by the internet café to print off some worksheets for youth teaching this afternoon. My afternoon project is teaching Monks English with 2 other volunteers, and that as well is only a 10 minute walk away so luckily no public transport for me today!'

'My evening is spent eating a delicious Sri Lankan curry made by Amma (mum of the house), and then all sat around in the living room upstairs project planning, making crafts for tomorrows projects, chatting and debriefing about our day, and listening to music.'

Tell us what you gained from the placement: 'I really hoped that by the end of this placement, I would know exactly what area of psychology I wanted to go into – but instead ended up falling in love with every single area of psychology! What’s for certain is that it’s consolidated my thoughts of going all the way to pursue a career in psychology.'

'I found all the workshops we attended absolutely brilliant and loved every second of them. To have the opportunity to spend the day with such a passionate and dedicated psychiatrist, observe him at work, and have him answer any and ALL of our questions was something else. From these experiences, we were able to see psychology applied from a different cultural perspective, which was so interesting. With such a wide variety of projects, we were required to work in so many different environments, with all different age groups, and such varied abilities among them. These conditions made us very flexible workers and has given me the skills of adaptability, cross-cultural communication and I’ve become much more confident in so many ways – from being able to comfortably teach a class of youths, lead a group of volunteers to run sessions, not being afraid to try new things, and making a fool out of myself to make people's day.'

'My placement in Sri Lanka has been one of the best experiences of my life, I have so many new and wonderful friends who share my passion for psychology, and I got to travel and see the beautiful little island of Sri Lanka in the process.'