My great passion and love for the Good Shepherd Mission began when I was a schoolgirl. Studying in a Good Shepherd School in my country, Sri Lanka, gave me many opportunities to be in touch with people around me who seemed wounded and broken. My heart reached out in love towards the wounded, desiring so much to be a healing presence.
It is with this passion and desire to bring 'life in abundance' that I joined the Good Shepherd Sisters in 1989 and made my first profession in 1991. My educational background of Psychology and Counselling was an impetus to journey with those whom we serve through our ministries. In 2007 I was elected as a member of the Province Leadership Team. This gave me many opportunities to be involved in projects, particularly the one I am about to describe.
The year 2009 was a very challenging time for us as a Province. We were invited to respond with openness and trust to the war situation that was affecting many lives in Sri Lanka. At the peak of war as the wounded were brought to the hospitals from the battle ground, we Good Shepherd Sisters immediately responded, going into the hospitals, caring for the wounded. Our mission of compassion and reconciliation propelled us to move forward to bring healing to the lives of people.
From this emergency situation, arose our mission to the people of the war torn area. We moved out from the ministries we were doing, to be a healing presence to the people. It was for us a call to move beyond our own boundaries with a passion to reach out to the wounded. Our main focus was towards the children and youth. In the camps we began Pre-school activities, special classes for scholarship, O/L and A/L students, and tailoring for young people with a view of keeping them occupied. Together with these programmes we also spent time listening to their stories, allowing them to pour out their hearts in trust.
Young women facing pregnancies who needed a haven to give birth to their babies were identified, and our home in Poovarasankulam gave temporary shelters to accommodate the big numbers that came to us.
Gradually as the people were resettled, our hearts were moved by the cries of the young girls in detention camps released by the Government. These young ones were disturbed and uncertain of their future. Thus a ‘Skill Training Program’ was planned at Ganeshapuram, Vavuniya. This project began in a rented house on 19 March 2010 and thanks to the funding agencies, we now have a place of our own for this project. Together with skills such as sewing, cookery, beauty culture and bag making we offer professional counselling, music therapy and other healing therapies. All of these services bringing healing and empowerment to them. The sisters working in this project have done everything they can to create an environment of growth for these young hearts, helping some of them to connect with their families.
Today we also have an educational programme as well as a livelihood program for those who have completed skill training. This has enabled them to earn their living, moving towards the future with confidence. Our hope is that they become women healed and able to face the future with hope and joy.
Another project begun during this time was in response to the cries of the war orphans - opened on 12 October 2010 in Mankulam. At present we have 56 school going children. Opportunities for self and personality development are provided. It is a joy to experience the freedom and joy of the children as they participate in an environment which is conducive for their growth.
Although the war is over, people are in need of healing and reconciliation. We as Good Shepherds have an active role to play, creating networks for peace and reconciliation.
Comprehensive overview from the GSAPP team - how Good Shepherd Partnership for Mission is developing in this region