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Chaplain uses passion to help Sri Lankan students

YouthCARE chaplain Chantal Pereira is using her experience as a chaplain to help kids in Sri Lanka. Since moving to Perth as a teenager, Chantal has visited Sri Lanka more than 15 times. Apart from visiting family, she uses the time to volunteer with local churches running programs in the slums, hospitals and schools.

“Sri Lanka is my second home and there is so much need in every aspect of life there,” Chantal said.

“It’s a third world, post-war country and it’s sad to see kids finding it difficult to reach their full potential in life due to political corruption and insufficient resources. I have a passion working as a chaplain and to be able to introduce the concept in another country is the least I can do to leave a footprint.”

During her last visit in June, Chantal visited her old school. She was able to discuss with the principal and deputy about the importance of meeting the social and emotional needs of the students and how chaplaincy can help.

Chantal explained what she did here in Perth and the response was very positive.

“In the school I went to, there were no psychologists, social worker or a chaplain/counsellor,” she said.

“They mentioned how few of the issues they grapple with are bullying, peer pressure and self-value/respect.

“Using training I received at YouthCARE, I was able to make a short program according to the issues the school dealt with, such as Social Skills, Peer Skills and Youth Mental Health First Aid.

“The programs were based on my experience working at two different schools, with two different socio-economic levels.

“This was a great start for the school and they agreed on how it important it is to meet the kids half-way through the understanding their mental/social needs.”

Chantal was also able chat with the teachers at the school.

“This was an awesome opportunity for me as the teachers I spoke to were my own primary school teachers and I was able to share how I felt about the way they cared for me as a child when I was at my lowest,” she said.

“I have two homes, one in Perth and one in Sri Lanka. If I am able to bring to Sri Lanka a little bit of what we do as chaplains, we’ve made a significant difference already.”