Queen's University team leaves legacy in post-tsunami Sri Lanka through CIDA funded project
After a tsunami ravaged Sri Lanka in 2004, Queen’s professor Malcolm Peat, led a multi-disciplinary team of experts to establish a series of Social Care Centres along the affected coastline. Short-term support had poured in from around the world, but the Queen’s team knew they could provide expertise that would help the island for years to come.
The Queen’s International Centre for the Advancement of Community Based Rehabilitation (ICACBR) project ended last month after establishing self-sufficient social care centres that are such a success they’re being implemented across Sri Lanka.
The centres were built in the community, staffed by the community and designed for the community. The project involved Sinhala and Tamil personnel and promoted the use of both Tamil and Sinhala languages in all elements of education and service delivery.
They brought a number of government departments together under one roof. They became a central resource for refugees, orphans, the disabled, the elderly and anyone else left vulnerable by the catastrophe. In the centres, they could get support, regardless of their sex, age or ethnicity.
Instead of equipment, Queen’s transferred knowledge and skills; once the centres were established, they worked on developing the capacity of over 270 government service providers and 40 non-governmental organizations active in these communities.
“The Sri Lankan government had the idea for the centres, but they needed support in organizing and implementing this new initiative,” says Dr. Peat. “Canada was committed to help the country rebuild after the tsunami, and as part of that commitment, we used our expertise and experience to get the centres up and running.”
As an enhancement to the Centres, the ICACBR team introduced a Master’s of Social Work Program for senior staff to produce a cadre of leaders. Queen’s supported the program by providing faculty to teach courses as well as equipment, books, and learning resources including access to electronic resources through the Queen’s health sciences library.
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