Dr. Charika Marasinghe of Sarvodaya was awarded the Women and Engaged Buddhism Award 2008

Buddhist Council of the Midwest is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2008 Women and Engaged Buddhism Award are Sensei Joan Hoeberichts of the Heart Circle Sangha, Ridgewood, NJ, and Charika Marasinghe, PhD, of Sarvodaya, Sri Lanka, for their initiative in partnering to create the Psycho-Spiritual Healing Project to train Sri Lankan counselors to provide psychological support for tsunami survivors and others needing such aide.

There were scant mental health resources available in Sri Lanka to help survivors deal with the unseen psychological wounds caused by the sudden disappearance and death of loved ones and the wide spread destruction that was left in the wake of December 26, 2004 tsunami. In response to news reports of the devastation, Sensei Joan Hoeberichts contacted the Sri Lankan NGO, Sarvodaya, and proposed a program to provide teams of psychologist and social workers from the United States to train local counselors to work with the survivors.

Rev. Hoeberichts together with Charika Marasinghe, PhD, of Sarvodaya developed and implemented a plan to provide specialized training in grief and trauma therapy to non-therapists so as to reach the largest numbers of people affected by the tsunami as possible. Rev. Hoeberichts put together the training program and teams of therapy teachers from the United States while Charika Marasinghe used Sarvodaya grassroots village network to recruit prospective Sri Lankan counselors and provide the infrastructure necessary for their training and work.

Members of Heart Circle Sangha, Ridgewood, NJ, joined in to raise funds and administer the U.S. side of the Psycho-Spiritual Healing Project undertaken by Sarvodaya. The work they began in January of 2005 continues and grows. Now there are Sarvodaya sponsored therapists serving villagers in all the departments (provinces) of Sri Lanka addressing the psychological wounds of the ongoing civil war, alcoholism and the needs of families.

The grant money will go specifically to the children’s program to provide books and training materials for the counselor’s as well as tools such as puppets and art supplies to help children to express their grief.

Donations are especially important at this time as Imago Relationship International has pledged to match every dollar collected for the Psycho-Spiritual Healing Project so that the project may train counselors to expand the project’s family and marriage counseling services.

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