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Want to know what Vishwāsā is?

Posted on March 11, 2019

There are a small group of staff and students from Plymouth University who have a great volunteering opportunity for a project that aims to help out and empower young people living in Sri Lanka through education to access opportunities for employment.

The project is being led by a core group of 5 (two students from Medical and Cardiac Physiology streams + one who provides mentoring support to our students + one experienced at organising volunteering projects + one member of staff – Poorna Gunasekera, known to most as “PG” and widely known in the community for having started the global volunteering network, MegaReach).

The project, called Vishwāsā (meaning “Belief” in Sanskrit), aims to send (and assist) 2 volunteers to Sri Lanka for 2-weeks each in order to create and deliver a syllabus (consisting of 2-week modules ranging from topics such as ‘Communication skills’, ‘Leadership skills’, ‘Project presentation skills’ and ‘CV and Interview skills’, all ultimately helping to improve their English language skills) to a group of highly motivated participants, all of whom would have sat their University Entrance Examination (GCE Advanced (A-) Level) at least once. This will increase the confidence of and improve the life skills of the Sri Lankan participants, as well as help the volunteers develop their own confidence and life skills. It's hoped that, over time, these exposures will help develop a new cadre of socially conscious individuals on both sides.
There is an Information Day, which is coming up on:
Saturday 23rd March
11am - 1pm at
Lecture Theatre 2, Roland Levinsky Centre, Plymouth University

Their project page can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/projectvishwasa
The event (Information Day) they are trying to advertise can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/events/2447862475286772/
and there is an Event page on the Plymouth University site which can be found at: https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/whats-on/vishwasa-information-day

This is how they explain it in more detail:
We have designed the project with the support of a group of enthusiasts in Sri Lanka, known to PG. We have undertaken the responsibility of designing the syllabus and organising free accommodation and meals (most) at a Temple school in Katagarama in Sri Lanka. Prospective volunteers will be responsible for organising their own airfare, insurance, visas and internal travel in Sri Lanka between the airport and Kataragama. Our contribution will come absolutely free of charge.

Two of our group went last November to visit the site and run through preparation for the programme. They have identified approximately 30 highly motivated participants in Sri Lanka, all of whom would have sat their University Entrance Examination (GCE Advanced (A) Level) at least once, who are willing to participate in the programme.

This is being organised under the MegaReach umbrella, an organisation started by PG (that is widely recognised within the Plymouth community for its vast number of community projects such as but not limited to working with the Moments Cafe, projects alongside SCOPE, supporting the local Freedom Fields Festival annually, community music events at the Sherwell Church Centre, a project alongside the local Simply Counselling organisation, and a long-term mentoring project to help community members, displaced persons and students grow together just to name a few) in 2015 that has run projects in all 5 continents of the world. Some of our work is detailed at http://www.megareach.org. We are no longer actively promoting the MegaReach label this time though in a conscious effort to give the ownership to volunteers, as our main focus in empowerment of individuals.

The empowerment programme is designed to run for 16 weeks starting from early September 2019. It has been structured into 8 ‘units’, each 2-weeks in length. The units have been designed in collaboration with potential employers in Sri Lanka, who have guaranteed an interview for each local ‘graduate’ of the programme. These units will be delivered in English by pairs of volunteers from around the world. We believe this will increase the confidence of the Sri Lankan participants, even as it will help global volunteers develop their own generic skills. We hope that over time, these exposures will help develop a new cadre of socially conscious individuals on both sides.

We will hold general training days to prepare potential volunteers and help them develop lesson plans to meet the key learning objectives identified for each unit. We will also offer options for inland travel and sightseeing, which volunteers can arrange directly with trusted third parties in Sri Lanka.

We have already contacted various avenues within Plymouth University itself to help us advertise amongst students and within our university, but we were wondering if you may be able to help us share our Information Day so that we may be able to reach a wider core of the total Plymouth community as well, if you would be so kind. We think it would be a fantastic opportunity for the Plymouth community and university students to work together on an international project!


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