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Focus of the meeting

The Partnership Team met in Kuala Lumpur on 19-21 February 2014. We welcomed Sr Rasangi Fernando from Sri Lanka onto the team. Sr Kevin Yin was unable to travel from Cambodia for the meeting. Our work together focused on:

  • » Revision of the Terms of Reference and refocusing the role of Province Link people.
  • » Developing a common statement on Co-Responsibility for Mission.
  • » Maximising use of the website across Asia Pacific to promote Partnership for Mission.
  • » Reflection on Partnership for Mission in relationship to the Congregational Chapter and Intercontinental Assembly.
  • » Formation and Leadership development for Mission Partners.
  • » Creating a Strategic Plan for the work of the team for 2014/15.



Potential of the website

We are excited about the potential the Asia Pacific website offers and see the need to create pathways for mission partners to engage with the site.

Statement on Co-Responsibility for Mission

Drawing on the results of an earlier survey on Co-Responsibility, we formulated a statement on Co-Responsibility for Mission (see below) which we hope will be a foundation from which we all work across the Region. We have placed this with the statement on Partnership for Mission developed in 2007 for the First Asia Pacific Partnership Gathering held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The hopes and inspiration

Ms Trish Carroll, Mission Leader from Good Shepherd Australia/Aotearoa New Zealand, gave us a presentation which we discussed. It stimulated our thoughts and desire for the development of integrated and contemporary Formation and Leadership programmes for mission partners – sisters and lay partners. We aspire to work collaboratively with other groups within the Asia Pacific Network to jointly develop a Formation Journey for all mission partners –sisters and lay partners.

This was an energising and fruitful time of working together in a Co-Responsible model for Partnership for Mission.

Members of the Partnership Team

Sr Noelene White

Ms Theresa Symons

Sr Rasangi Fernando

Ms Gendrie Klein-Breteler

Sr Kevin Yin

Mrs Sashirekha Natarajan

The Statements

PARTNERSHIP FOR MISSION

Our experience of Good Shepherd draws us together.

The strength of our Partnership propels us out for mission.

  • » In partnership we identify with Good Shepherd Spirit from whichever place we come and we recognise it in each other.
  • » The strength of our partnership lies in equality and inclusiveness in our relationships. Partnership enriches us personally and communally.

May 2007

CO-RESPONSIBILITY FOR MISSION

Mission Partners (sisters and lay people) accept responsibility together for effective and sustainable Good Shepherd Mission into the future.

Together we work towards:

  • » Ensuring the Good Shepherd charism and heritage remain at the heart of mission.
  • » Designing governance structures and systems to enable participation at all levels of mission.
  • » Developing formation, education and leadership programmes which equip people to work in a partnership model for mission.



February 2014

 



The Challenges

Before 1976, the situation of girls under 18 years of age in Munnakkara, Negombo required to be in detention pending court cases was very difficult. These girls had to remain in remand with older and hard core prisoners.

What did the Sisters do?

In 1976, at the request of the Magistrate of Negombo, the Sisters opened a residential facility for the girls under 18 years of age. The purpose of the house is to provide protection, custody and rehabilitation until their court case is over. The duration of stay depends on each individual situation. We cater for girls from all racial and religious groups.

Who manages/administers the programme?

The Sisters run the facility, including a Directress in charge of the young girls. In addition we also employ lay staff. Also we coordinate the work with two NGO’s.

Who is the major target group?

The girls under 18 who face a court case and need protective custody.

Who benefits and how do they benefit?

Many residents of the home have been subject to:violence, sexual and physical abuse inside and outside the home, trafficking, the sex trade, drug carriers, child labour.

The Good Shepherd home provides:

  • » A safe environment
  • » Food and health requirements
  • » Professional services to assist with healing past memories
  • » Self esteem development/li>
  • » Skill development/li>
  • » The tools for social integration./li>



How many people are assisted?

There are facilities for 40 girls. However the residential number varies depending on the number of court cases.

Motivation and core values

Through the message of reconciliation and compassion shown to those in our care, irrespective of race and religion, we believe firmly in the dignity and value of each person. Our objective is to assist these girls to become more responsible citizens with an awareness of their worth and dignity. The girls are helped to face life and develop good character traits. We create an environment that enables them to develop positive self esteem.

What outcomes are achieved?

Activities include

Non formal education classes

As many of the young girls are not literate or have dropped out of school, we have established non formal education classes with the help of Non formal education department of Sri Lanka. It helps the girls to continue their formal education.

Computer Classes

We started computer classes to help them to improve their knowledge on Information Technology, to build self confidence, and to help them to face the future.

Contemplative Art

An NGO, specially trained group conducts this program which helps them to bring out their inner feelings and creativity. Once a week this is done for three hours in a silent atmosphere.

Dancing

Dancing helps the young women to improve their talents and especially to release their stress.

Beads to Business

The Beads to Business class educates and enriches the lives of the girls through instruction in beading and other educational programs designed to encourage self-sufficiency, self-respect, a sense of community, concentration and psychological healing.

Skills Development Programme

Specimen, patchwork, ribbon work, embroidery, tailoring, carpet making, housekeeping, home gardening and cookery, train the girls in the skills of day to day living.

Spiritual Program

Group prayers, other exercises, Shibashi (moving meditation) helps each girl to relax, to be calm in her inner self and to cultivate self-discipline.

Individual Counselling

Available to each girl according to her need.

Group meeting

This is a valuable tool which we use with the girls to help foster leadership, responsibility and self awareness. It is also an opportunity to help the girls appreciate the good in each other, while at the same time providing them with opportunities to exercise their talents and capabilities. The meeting begins with a period of prayer and reflection. The meeting also helps to enhance a sense of fellowship and community and develops in them human and spiritual values.

Celebrations

In order to promote unity in diversity and creativity we encourage them to celebrate together their religious festivals and cultural celebrations.

Indoor/outdoor games and recreation

Help the girls to relax, enjoy and to be relieved of their tension.

How is the programme evaluated?

Feedback from:

  • » Government officers, such as police, probation officers, judges, prison officers.
  • » The girls themselves.
  • » Benefactors.
  • » Visitors.



How does it contribute to the Millennium Development Goals?

  • » Providing vocational skills which will help to reduce poverty and hunger.
  • » Primary Education through the Non Formal Education Department.
  • » Empowerment of women.
  • » Providing homely and friendly environment.



Challenges

The project calls for 24 hours availability with sometimes challenging behaviour of residents.

We strive to give our best, but sometimes we experience discouragement.

This always calls us to turn to Saint Mary Euphrasia and to Jesus the Good Shepherd.

What would make the project more effective?

To build a games courtyard for outdoor sports.



The Challenges

The Ethnic war in Sri Lanka, which lasted for 30 years in the form of an armed conflict, with heavy loss of life and limb, as well as the devastation of buildings and property, came to an end in May, 2009. This led to a forced exodus of hundreds of thousands of Tamil people from the districts of Killinochchi and Mullaitivu, creating masses of Internally Displaced Persons who had to be housed in temporary camps in very sad conditions. Eventually, after the process of de-mining was completed, the displaced persons were gradually “resettled”, willingly or forcibly. Even those who willingly returned to their own piece of land, had to start from scratch, with the scars of war in the form of devastation surrounding them, and with little reliable support. Moreover, the inner wounds of mind and heart were deeply painful, and all bottled up within them, while a cloud of fear and suspicion surrounded them. There were the harshly created widows with their children clinging to them, people who were blind and deaf, the mute and the maimed, as well as people who were paralysed.

What did the Sisters do?

Good Shepherd heard the cry of anguish and was drawn into the scene. During the past 4.5 years, roads have been repaired and bridges built by the Government spending billions of Rupees on infrastructure, but the minds and hearts of the so-called “re-settled people” are still deeply sore, crying for Healing and Reconciliation.

Our sisters, mainly Sinhala, and other women from the South, go to the District of Mullaitivu, to certain villages, visiting and spending time with individual families, listening to their pain and anguish of heart. We have been going once or twice a month, in groups of six, spending 3 to 4 days at each visit. We ensure that at least 3 of the group can communicate in Tamil, so that we can go in twos to each family. It is important for Sinhala sisters and Sinhala women to reach out to our sisters and brothers in the North, for healing and reconciliation. The pain and loss of their missing loved ones is shared with us, as they point to garlanded photographs! As our tears mingle with theirs, we are all touched. It is the Divine Touch!

Who manages/administers the programme?

Good Shepherd sisters as well as mission partners are involved in the management/ administration of this ministry.

Who is the major target group?

The women, children and families in certain villages in the District of Mullaitivu, especially the so called “No Fire Zones” of 2009. These areas saw the last stages of the horrific war, with all its cruelty, vengeance, bombardment, shelling and bloodshed, as innocent civilians fled helter-skelter for safety. These people form the major target group .

Who benefits and how do they benefit?

The above-mentioned women, children and families benefit, as well as their village communities. Eventually, the people of the North who have been war-victims, and the Sri Lankan society as a whole, will benefit.

How do they benefit? When people experience inner healing and freedom, they are psychologically, socially and spiritually empowered. Thus, they will be able to live a fuller life, using their inner potentialities and resources. This will restore in them their lost dignity and worth as human persons, children of the one Father. They will thus be empowered as persons. It is only then, in a climate of inclusion, freedom, love, understanding, and acceptance, that they can be themselves and think of others as well, building relationships that will enrich themselves and society. This indeed, is a long term process. In the long run, it will foster noble human values, which will ultimately lead to a transformation of our Sri Lankan society.

How many people are assisted?

4,000 - 4,500 Persons (including persons with disabilities due to the war.)

600 Families

300 Female-led Families

2,000 - 2,500 Women

1,500 Children

Motivation and core values

Reaching out with compassion to the wounded and marginalized women, children and their families, to save and restore to dignity, through inner healing and reconciliation, towards empowerment. These are the direct objectives of our mission. They are indeed the core values and spirit of the Good Shepherd.

How does this project work towards empowerment of women and children?

  • »Regular visits to the families, and to the Women’s Rural Development societies.
  • »Visiting some of the very poor and badly neglected schools, and providing school books and other basic essential materials.
  • »Arranging programmes, such as North-South Exchange Programmes for the children.
  • »Organising self-help projects for the families, especially for female-headed families.
  • »Providing scholarships to University Students, whenever possible.
  • »Organizing North-South Exchange Programmes for Women, such as the celebration of International Women’s Day.
  • »Holding Capacity and Skill-Building Programmes on Human Rights, Civic Rights.
  • »Networking with other Inter Religious Groups, Human Rights and Women’s Rights Organizations, for advocacy and lobbying.



How is the programme evaluated?

  • » At our very first visits, after much questioning and cross-questioning of us by the people, as we listen with love and compassion, with acceptance and understanding, the cloud of suspicion can be seen to disappear. Then the painful stories come out quite dramatically, as in a closely knit family, with tears and sobbing, with all the symbols and relics they possess, such as photographs and articles of clothing.
  • » At our second or later visits, when these people, who earlier could hardly smile, come running out to meet us, with smiles on their faces, we consider it an indicator of the effectiveness of the process of healing.
  • » We also consider it an indicator, when they make telephone calls to us, saying that they experienced God during our visits, and they request us to come again to have a meal with them, they who barely have one meal a day! This shows that their inner wounds are healing, and that they feel less excluded. Furthermore, it shows that they are now sensing their worth and dignity as persons, and as sisters and brothers of one family.
  • » These are some examples.



How does it contribute to the Millennium Development Goals?

Of the 8 Millennium Development Goals, our project is directly connected with Goal 2 & Goal 3.

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education.

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women.

The MDGs originated from the United Nations Millennium Declaration, which asserted that every individual has the right to dignity, freedom, equality, a basic standard of living that includes freedom from hunger and violence and encourages tolerance and solidarity.

Our project deals directly with the basis of this. As long as individuals or communities are psychologically and socially wounded, living in fear and insecurity, constantly under suspicion as possible terrorists, there can be no room to experience dignity, freedom and equality. There can be no room to be truly alive. Therefore, for the achievement of the MDGs, the fundamental need is for healing and flowering, for fuller life with dignity and freedom, which is what our project is all about.

The MDGs sets concrete targets and indicators for poverty reduction in order to achieve the rights set forth in the Declaration. The MDGs emphasizes three areas: human capital, infrastructure and human rights (social, economic and political), with the intent of increasing living standards. Human capital objectives include nutrition, healthcare and education. Human Rights objectives include empowering women, reducing violence, increasing political voice, ensuring equal access to public services and increasing security of property rights. These goals were intended to increase an individual’s human capabilities and "advance the means to a productive life".

Our project is directly concerned with this thrust of the MDGs, basically promoting gender equality and empowering the women, while directing our attention to the education of children and their wellbeing.

Challenges

  • » We do not feel sufficiently free to mix up and relate with our sisters and brothers in the North, due to the prevailing situation.
  • » Their economic, social and educational needs are beyond our capacity, due to lack of sufficient resources.
  • » Many more programmes need to be done for the children, but our hands are tied due to insufficient funds.
  • » Capacity building programmes for the women are a dire necessity. Here again the same obstacle of insufficient funds, holds us back.



What would make the project more effective?

The availability of more financial resources for our programmes in Mullaitivu.

 

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