Stories from Our team

The key to transformation

I view Emerge as an organization that takes on a social responsibility of caring for children who have been overlooked by society. The young ladies who participate in our residential program at the Centre have survived a tough life that was no fault of their own. The abuse they survive as children impact them as a person, impact their opportunities and also impact their relationships with the outside world. As a result, they lose normalcy and basic experiences. Emerge bridges that gap by supporting them and teaching them life skills, societal understanding, training and empowering to see their value. I find it an honor to work with an organization that cares so deeply for these young girls.

As a Centre Mother since August 2017; my main priority has been to ensure that all our girls are able to experience a form of a healthy relationship between a mother-figure and daughter. Most of our girls have been deprived of this bond due to paths that their life has led, so it is important to me that they experience the warmth of what that bond could be. During their stay at this residential Centre; we work hard to create an environment that is warm, family oriented, safe and united. These young ladies have been like my daughters; even referring to me as “Amma” – which comes from a genuine place of accepting our affection and care. I have grown to understand that I have a responsibility towards them not only as a Centre Mother; but to also be a sister, a friend, a listener or an advisor.

Our hope for every young lady is that they are never defined by their past trauma, and that it never stands in the way of them rebuilding their lives. We hope that each girl makes her own empowered choices to live a life that is healthy, happy and safe. Emerge continues to work hard to ensure each girl learns their self-worth, the power of their choices and have access to opportunities.

Dhammika Wijeyaratne

Centre Mother – Emerge Reintegration Centre

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Once and ally, always an ally

I was a member of a young men’s organization (Colombo Round Table) when we first heard about Emerge Lanka Foundation through a request for assistance in raising funds for a Reintegration Centre. We had a general idea that abuse and harassment was prevalent in our societies, however, it was only when we got fully involved with the project that we began to understand the true scale and nature of abuse and harassment within Sri Lanka.

My first visit to a shelter along with the Emerge team was one of the most sobering experiences of my life, and it put a lot of things into perspective. From the very definitions of abuse and harassment to how a survivor continues to be victimized through our legal, civil and social systems; it showed me that we are all either victims or beneficiaries of circumstance.

This motivated my peers and I to no longer be passive observers (and thereby facilitators) of violence and abuse, but rather to work with Emerge to uplift the lives of these young girls by giving them a second lease of life, a sense of self-worth and belonging in society.

From its inception up to now I have seen the amazing transformation in the girls who leave shelters and enter the Emerge Reintegration Centre. They learn basic life skills (which most of us take for granted), they learn about themselves, how to build meaningful relationships and eventually how they can rebuild their lives. There are many heartwarming success stories of girls who have carved successful careers, started a family life and become ambassadors for change.

Despite some of the horrific trauma some the girls have survived; they are all fighters. And it has moved me to do something a bit more meaningful with my life - and I am honored to join the Emerge Board and to be a part of a movement to bring about lasting and meaningful change in our communities.

Jehan Mubarak

Director - Emerge Lanka Foundation

Former National Cricket Player

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From Volunteer to Country Manager

Having a background in using dramatic arts as a tool for trauma therapy, I was introduced by a very dear friend to Emerge back in 2018. Working with the young ladies at the Emerge Centre was an amazing experience, and an emotional one for me. The first batch I worked with was a revelation. 

Due to the trauma and challenges they have faced and worked with, I came in prepared to be sympathetic, planned simple lessons and keep them in their comfort zones. I was in for a surprise, I was met by 8 young women who were strong, brave and tough young women who had so much potential and capability, they were full of smiles and even though I saw them have bad days that they still managed to pick themselves up and move forward. 

In 2019, having worked in the development sector for 8 years as an international trainer and consultant, I was offered the opportunity to join the team full time as the Country Manager for Emerge. I leapt at the opportunity to work full-time at an organization that supported these special young women and worked for a cause that is very close to my heart. 

One of the main reasons that I wanted to make this shift is the fact that in my very first batch at Emerge Center, there was a girl who through the equine therapy coaching session I conducted who said that she had been silenced through her life, and her lifelong ambition was to become a lawyer who worked with survivors. I am so delighted to say today that she is being sponsored for her exams as a lawyer. 

At Emerge we are able to bring out this potential and capacity for great things in these young ladies. A potential that is often overlooked by society, by their own families and by all those who should be believing in them. 

To me the Emerge Center is a place of hope, a place where dreams come true and a place that these young women call home. It is a place where miracles happen and futures are born.

Hazel Rajiah-Tetteh

Country Manager - Emerge Lanka Foundation