Edirimuni Rohan Jemcy de Silva
Director at the SOS Vocational Training Centre, Sri Lanka
photo: © 2018 Milena Partsunev
Rohan has worked for SOS since 2005. The most important things for him in his work are development, continuous improvement and shaping the lives of vulnerable young people. He believes that development is a process and we have to shape it with a holistic approach. He is always proud to see poor young people from Sri Lanka find and develop their potential and graduate from the Vocational Training Centre to become strong, resilient members of society who can support themselves and their communities.
His family is very important to him for a sense of belonging and affection and provides a trusting and peaceful atmosphere. He was born in Sri Lanka as the eldest son, and says his family has provided him with unlimited opportunities that have led him to the position he is in today.
In his free time, Rohan enjoys gardening and landscaping and he does gardening at the SOS VTC along with the residential youth. Prayer is also an important part of his life that keeps him close to God in times of turmoil.
My encounter with SOS Children's Villages Sri Lanka
I began my employment in SOS Children's Villages Sri Lanka in 2004 as a senior co-worker. My first appointment was to the SOS Children's Village in Anuradhapura, which is in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. Following this, I transferred to the SOS Children's Village in Nuwara Eliya, which is in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. That was in 2004. The present National Director of SOS Children's Villages Sri Lanka, Mr. Divakar Ratnadurai, was the village director of SOS CV in Nuwara Eliya at that time. I assisted him with administrative work and with activities in the Village, while also involved in pedagogical work with the children.
Taking over the SOS Vocational Training Centre in Monaragala
In 2007 I took over the SOS Vocational Training Centre in Monaragala. This was a sudden arrangement. The short account here is about the SOS Vocational Training Centre in Monaragala and how it has developed since 2007.
The SOS Vocational Training Centre (VTC) was a new project at that time, and the setup was new to me as well. The purpose of the VTC was to assist youth, especially from poor families, to choose a career to support their future, after having mastered a suitable vocational skill.
Initiating an Integral Formation process
The male youth attending the programme at the training centre were from different backgrounds. Getting them together for a common purpose was not that easy for me at the time. While administering the programmes at the training centre, I realised the necessity of initiating an integral formation process for trainees for their improvement in addition to their formal training. Young people were first taught to discipline themselves. They were trained to be receptive to comments and corrections. The wayward behavioural patterns of some trainees were disciplined.
Integral Formation at VTC provides all the components for trainees’ overall growth in every aspect. The following are some of these aspects: character formation, meditation, religious worship, religious exercises, spirituality, sports, teamwork, group dynamics, sharing, review of life, regular evaluations, manual labour, gardening, housework, community living, accountability, cleanliness, discipline, cooking, teaching languages, music, drama, recreation, outings and recreation programs. A holistic approach after all for the growth of individuals.
Well-mannered student body
It was necessary to build a well-mannered student body at the training centre, in order to establish a holistic approach towards the young people whose life situations had been threatened with vulnerability for many social reasons. This was a challenge. Strategies were gradually put in place for trainees to overcome inferiority. Directions and guidance were given for them to form themselves to become responsible young people in society. These were some of the methods put in place to develop the student body at the VTC.
After a lot of hard work, we managed to take another important step: the SOS Vocational Training Centre in Monaragala was registered under the Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission (TVEC) in Sri Lanka. This was one achievement. Curriculums were developed under the direction of the TVEC to comply with its standards. The training programmes run at the VTC therefore have government recognition. The VTC currently provides a National Vocational Qualification Level 3 certificate for its trainees. Alongside this a quality management system was established to assess every dimension of the quality of the services being provided for the young people.
The SOS Vocational Training Centre is well known to the public for the services it offers young people, especially in areas of vocational training. Simultaneously, exposure programmes outside formal training are organised for trainees as part of their Integral Formation. This is meant to offer opportunities to trainees to experience new situations, counteract new arenas, and learn new things and so on. The TVEC in Sri Lanka has declared the VTC for which I am responsible as an ideal locale for vocational training offering a high quality service to young people.
Dedicated instructors and the VTC output
Instructors at the VTC have worked hard to raise the standards at the VTC, which is very commendable. If it were not for their dedication and insight, the VTC's mission would not have been possible. The VTC has produced around 1,500 qualified technicians during the last eleven years. These include doctors, engineers, teachers and employees in the government and private sectors.
To summarise, I would like to mention the community effort of all those who have been involved in all aspects of the development process of the VTC. During the last 11 years or so, the SOS VCT has continued its services throughout challenges and difficulties, which I won't go into here. It is evident that the VTC has had an impact on the lives of the young people who have been trained there. They are prospering in life as worthy citizens in society and are thankful to the VTC for what they are today.
The SOS VTC continues its services with dedication to serve young people, especially from poor families, in the areas of professional training and Integral Formation as the prime objective of its mission.
Video Harvesting Workshop 2018