The British Council sets several goals for itself both internationally and locally. One of our tasks is to work in partnership with local people to create lasting relationships between the UK and Sri Lanka.
David Morgan is a community development specialist working in the Yala area. In conjunction with Marlon Mendis, the General Manager at the Yala Village hotel they wanted to respond in a measured way to the effects of the tsunami. 'There are many issues that needed dealing with here but the focus had to be on bringing as many aspects of the community together, this is a long term agenda, not a short term reaction.
People have been showing a variety of signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); people would not talk about it, men have been turning to drink and drugs and our children have shown odd behaviour too.'
Patricia Parkin works for a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) called the Environmental Community Trust. She is Sri Lankan by birth and although she spends a lot of her time in the UK her heart is clearly with her fellow Sri Lankans, particularly those around Yala.
She has many projects but one of them is to provide local youngsters in the Yala area with educational opportunities by building a centre where they can learn English, use computers and work together to improve their futures. Together with David and the British Council we organised a team of drama workshop leaders to go down to the Yala area and work for two-and-a-half days with more than 60 kids affected by the tsunami.
One of the workshop leaders is Angela Carr, she is also a teacher at the British Council, she explains, 'The games are designed to build trust and develop confidence while allowing people to share ideas and express themselves freely. The workshops are drama orientated but there is not always a performance in the traditional sense.
These kids were very keen to be involved from the word go, they may be smiling on the outside but hiding behind this as a mask, one boy Janaka was painfully shy and unconfident at first but after 2 days he’d opened up like a flower, it was great to see.'
The British Council does teach English but we also build partnerships that work.
Read more about these workshops.
Visit Patricia’s Environmental Community Trust website.