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In Sri Lanka, Good Shepherd Sisters and other care organizations conduct residential centres offering support and rehabilitation for girls and young women experiencing disadvantage. Academic studies may be challenging for these girls, due to family difficulties and emotional burdens. Upon completing their ordinary level exam they leave residential care to return to their families, but they may lack the skills required to be truly independent. Also, this generation of young people is more and more challenged by the multitude of possibilities before them. Career guidance has become a need of our times.

What did the Sisters do?

The Sisters assessed that the girls could develop greater levels of competency and skills, within a framework of leadership development. A decision was taken in 2009 to plan a one year Residential Career Development Programme, and Seth Sevana was born. It is a Vocational Training Institute, providing one year free residential Wholistic Development Programme through Vocational and Professional Training. It operates from an existing building at the Good Shepherd Convent, Bolawalana, Negombo.

Who manages/administers the programme?

The Good Shepherd sisters in Sri Lanka manage the programme with the collaboration of international funding partners and with the support of local and foreign donors and a philanthropist. Professionally qualified lecturers are selected for each course to maintain the efficiency and high standard of the institution.

Who is the major target group?

The participants of the programme are girls and women between the ages of 16-25, from child development centres, rehabilitation centres and institutions run by Good Shepherd Sisters and others, and from remote villages.

Who benefits and how do they benefit?

The girls and women who participate in this programme all benefit from it.

The programme focuses on Career Development in order to assist the trainees to find employment or to become successful entrepreneurs. It provides a growth promoting space where girls are inspired and empowered to become strong and creative leaders in their communities.

It is a residential wholistic Professional Development Programme. As well as all Course requirements, Seth Sevana covers the costs of food and lodging, medicines and other personal requirements. At times, the Centre also meets expenses of job placement and arranging hostel facilities.

Seth Sevana is registered in the Tertiary & Vocational Education Commission of Sri Lanka (TVEC) and from the first year it has been eligible to conduct eight certificate courses and to award students with following certificates:

  • » Certificate course in Computer Application Assistant
  • » Certificate course in Bakery
  • » Certificate course in Beautician
  • » Certificate course in General Cookery
  • » Certificate course in Hair stylist
  • » Certificate course in Tailor
  • » Certificate course in Home gardening
  • » Certificate course in Needle work & Hand work.



The Academic year runs from May to April and is followed by a period of 6 months on the job training.

Seth Sevana is also accredited to TVEC and its programmes have received National Competency. Students who are successful in this programme will be awarded the nationally and internationally recognized National Vocational Qualificational (NVQ) certificate, which is an excellent opportunity for those who discontinue schooling early. Apart from other common subjects, choice is given to the students to follow two or three NVQ subjects.

Seth Sevana is eligible to conduct NVQ examinations in these five subjects.

  • » Computer Application Assistant NVQ exams for Level 03
  • » Beautician NVQ exams for Level 03 & 04
  • » Hair Stylist NVQ exams for Level 04
  • » Tailor NVQ exams for Level 04
  • » Baker NVQ exams for Level 03

Graphics Designing Course NVQ exams for Level 04 (Awaiting accreditation.)

Other Subjects

  • » English.
  • » Dancing.
  • » Other short courses such as - Ribbon Embroidery, Needle work, soft toys, Fabric painting, Hand craft, Saree work, Jewellery making, Batik.
  • » Life Education, Counselling & Personality Development – a monthly one day workshop.



How many people are assisted?

Seth Sevana can cater for 35-38 girls each year.

Motivation and core values

‘Seth Sevana’ means Haven of Wellbeing. It expresses the core mission of Good Shepherd Sisters towards the empowerment of women and children. This was the dream of all of us in the Sri Lankan Province: to equip the girls in our residential centres with skills and training to face the future with courage before they left our homes and entered into society. This is especially needed for girls and young women who at an early stage in life have gone through struggles and have not had the opportunity to plan what they would want to be in the future. In such an environment Seth Sevana has become a green pasture and a preparation ground for them before they face the society with its challenges. Seth Sevana seeks to uplift every girl, making true the wish of our founder: ‘One person is of more value than the whole world’.

We have been able to offer restful shelter for some past students seeking to share their life experiences in a safe environment and looking for ongoing guidance. Some spend their vacation at Seth Sevana. They have a home coming experience.

Students from previous batches have learnt from life experience, still request some help and support and also take time to provide individual ‘mentoring’ for current students who are experiencing challenges. They are coming back to the sheep fold. Many of the past students are married and living a good family life.

What outcomes are achieved?

Officially the programme begins with celebration of a special Mass to invoke blessings from God for the New Year. During the year the students engage in different activities related to wholistic development: social, psychological, physical and spiritual development. The Centre also provides relevant vocational training programmes, leadership development, life skill education, spiritual nourishing activities. Exhibitions showcase their creative talents. Outings, exposure and worksite visits enhance the training programme. Resource persons conduct workshops on Group and Personality building. Motivational sessions, Career guidance and orientation to select the subjects at their discretion are also conducted.

Students engage in full day activities including social, psychological, physical and spiritual development. They have exposure to outside visits such as exhibitions and site visits to gain first hand knowledge. Recreational activities are arranged. Participants share all the responsibilities of the Centre such as cooking.

After they went for on-the-job training many Students showed interest to continue NVQ Level 4 exam.

Students who succeed in obtaining NVQ Level 4 from Seth Sevana are able to join government Technical Colleges to undertake Level 5-6 which is Diploma and Higher Diploma. Level 7 is the Degree level from Univo-tech.

Many have found good job opportunities in recognized companies with a good salary and have settled happily in their lives. 80% of the past students are settled in their career path.

Not only do we find good jobs for students, but we also continue to support them for higher studies. Many have improved in their career paths. Still we have been unable to cater to the high demand for job opportunities. Now we are creating a circle of both entrepreneurs and employers which will be useful for the future.

A few girls have proceeded with higher studies after training up to degree level and we were able to motivate sponsors to cover their educational expenses.

Much interest is shown by others, especially students from other children’s residential centres, to enter Seth Sevana for the training.

How is the programme evaluated?

Seth Sevana successfully completed 5 years in January 2014. All the students and visitors who step into Seth Sevana are amazed by its development within a short period of time. The sponsors are very satisfied with its progress and they are happily motivated to continue to fund the project. From the commencement of this programme four batches of students have passed through. Over 4 years, 121 students have successfully completed the programme and currently 39 students are studying in the fifth batch.

From the first year we were able to get recognition of TVEC and could receive accreditation for six NVQ courses in the Tertiary & Vocational Education Commission. Now we conduct National Vocational Qualification exams for 6 NVQ courses, and Students receive an internationally recognized certificate. Students benefited from the well equipped workshops for each subject.

So the Seth Sevana programme is a good opportunity for students who stop their schooling at an earlier stage. It enables girls and young women to face society and barriers which they meet without any difficulty. It provides guidance and support to this younger generation which is challenged with a multitude of possibilities.

How does it contribute to the Millennium Development Goals?

Seth Sevana contributes to Goal 3. It promotes Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women.

Challenges

Challenges include - at times:

  • » Motivation and dedication of the students.
  • » Emotional vulnerability of the students.
  • » Results may seem poor in light of the resources expended.
  • » Life challenges of students are complex.
  • » Lack of consistent support for the students by their guardians.
  • » The jobs found by the students may not be relevant to their studies.
  • » Avenues for job placements may be closed off by students who do not behave responsibly.
  • » Some students are too emotionally unsettled to remain in a job for long.
  • » Need for better team work by the Sisters.

What would make the project more effective?

This is a demanding ministry. In order to be more effective we need to be fully strengthened by God’s abundant graces and blessings. This is also a collective mission of our sisters in Sri Lanka, as our girls and women come from child development centres and our communities all over Sri Lanka. It helps when all the sisters with responsibility for the girls become involved in their ongoing development. As Good Shepherd Sisters we need to give a girl another chance, over and over again. We appreciate the generosity of our local and foreign funding partners in helping us to be more effective and productive.

Seth Sevana has become a blessing for our girls and young women.

 
 



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.

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