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Extending an ear to listen – HearME – Day 01, 02 & 03

The project Hear Me was a project initiated by the Community Service Avenue of the Rotaract Club of University of Kelaniya. It was a series of discussions on four timely topics; stress and depression, addiction, harassment and personality development. Adapting to the new normal, the project took place via zoom; an online platform but the hard driven organizing committee did not fail to elevate the project to a significant level. At the inception, the targeted audience was given a chance to share their problems and opinions through a google form, anonymously. The discussions were held with the main intention of creating an opportunity for the aphonic to reveal their concealed stories. Drifting away from a traditional webinar series, what made Hear Me noteworthy were the distinctly interactive discussions that mainly answered the queries of the audience and the advices given by the professionals as to how one can deal with such said issues in life.

The project commenced with the discussion on Stress and Depression on 05th of October 2021. It was in real terms an insightful discussion with Dr. Sajeewana Amarasinghe, Consultant Psychiatrist at National Institute of Mental Health, where he accurately addressed all the questions that were directed to him by the audience. In a community where even clinically diagnosed depression is ignored and disregarded, the discussion was able to deliver an exhaustive understanding as to what stress and depression is, and especially the differences between the two were significantly brought up. How one can assist another who is suffering from any of these problems was also discussed as it was one of the most asked questions from the audience. It is likely that people undergo problems like stress and depression at the present context having to adapt in to many changes deviating from the normal routine of life. Thus, the sole intention of the discussion was to make people aware of the depth of these problems and to create a platform for people to speak of the issues they have.

It was the discussion on Addiction with Mr. Mithra Karunanayake, Lecturer in Drug Prevention that happened right after, on the 07th of October 2021. The resource person was able to carry out an interactive session with the audience advising them about types of addiction, precautions to avoid addiction and ways to overcome addiction. From the responses received from the targeted audience prior to the session, majority of the responses were concerned with cyber bullying and hence, that was discussed in detail. All the problems were given apt solutions and the two hours spent were effective and productive beyond question. The discussion was thus concluded with two more sessions at hand.

The third phase of Hear Me was another successful session on harassment. This discussion, which was conducted on the 09th of October 2021 took another significant stance as there were two personalities invited to talk of both the psychological aspect and the legal aspect of harassment and to carry out an effective session through out. The purpose of adding such an element to the discussion was to provide wide and in depth comprehension to the audience about the seriousness of this issue of harassment. Traditionally, people are afraid to voice out whatever form of harassment they may have faced and thus tend to suffer alone, suppressing it all by themselves. Some are not conscious about the possible legal actions that can be taken against an alleged harasser. Some fear to express themselves because of the social stigma that they might fear would come along. Hence, for these reasons, the discussion comprised of the two said segments.

It was Dr. Ajith Jayasena, Consultant Judicial Medical Officer, who spoke about the legal aspect giving out advices to the audience about the legal measures that can be taken within judiciary of Sri Lanka. He also did not fail to share with us some of his work experiences highlighting the ares of domestic violence, sexual abuse, mob violence and public harassment. Moreover, the legal procedure to be followed when lodging a complaint was also mentioned in the discussion. In addition to that, Dr. Pushpa Ranasinghe, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist, joined us to speak about the psychological aspect, especially to make the audience understand what a person who has undergone harassment goes through. She also made special note as to the importance of having a balanced mentality at such a situation and educated the people how they can achieve it. The significance of expressing oneself instead of suppressing it was brought to the spotlight. Both these personalities were able to give elaborative answers to the questions asked by the audience. The discussion was concluded in such wise making the third session of Hear Me equally remarkable.

~Written by: Rtr. Shakya Wickramaarachchi | Featured image designed by : Rtr. Rahma Zuhri~

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