In order to initiate skill enhancement training for student counsellors and mentors in the educational institutions of Church of South India, a training program under MITHRA (Migrants Intervention Towards Holistic Responsive Action) was organized for trained counsellors, chaplains and mentors of CSI on 03rd and 04th April 2018 at CSI Centre Chennai.
Rev. Dr. Rathnakara Sadananda General Secretary of Church of South India who inaugurated this training program in his inaugural address encouraged these counsellors and mentors to focus on the ministry of accompaniment with our students and younger generations. He urged them to provide space and opportunity for students to build trust and share struggles. He encouraged them that there exists much scope in many interventions among the students to build their lives in a holistic manner. He highlighted the great need of catering to the needs and challenges of the student communities to add meaning to their lives.
This training aimed to equip the skills of counsellors, chaplains and mentors catering to the spiritual and psychological needs of the student community in general and the migrant students in specific. It aimed to enable the mentors and counsellors placed in the various institutions of CSI to understand the ministry of counselling, its theology and historical development. This training also provided an opportunity to brush up the skills needed to be an effective mentor and also to understand the world of students and their challenges. In this regard the experts in the field of mentoring and counselling ministry were invited to talk on the uniqueness, skills required and the context of students. On day two specific components like understanding the presence of migrant students, their challenges, and also understanding the presence of students with different sexual orientations and gender identities were also dealt to broaden the horizons of the counsellors and mentors. The participants were briefed on certain counselling skills and also on the traits of being an effective student counsellor and mentor on these two days. Prof. Noel Jackson chief mentor and counsellor from Christ University, Bangalore, Fr. Sebastian, from Jesuit migrant ministry Chennai, Dr. L. Radhakrishnan from SAATHI and his friends, Ms. Jesicca Richard and Ms. Glory Thomas from CSI SEVA-GEET were the main facilitators of this training program.
Great need was felt to offer space and focus on meeting the growing challenges and needs of the student community. Issues and challenges of migrant students, students with Gender and diverse sexual orientations, Gender sensitivity and importance of Internal Compliance committee formation and so on are taken up as the further area of focus in the institutions if CSI. Audits of migrant students, students with disabilities, addressing gender and abuse, various kinds of addiction are planned in the near future through these trained counsellors and mentors.
Fr. Sebastian, who is in-charge of Jesuit Migrant Ministry in Chennai, gave a detailed talk on the challenges and needs faced by the migrant students. He also explained how the church through counsellors and mentors can enhance the quality of these migrant students in the campuses. The gravity of his presentation became intense with the sharing of Mr Henry, a young refugee from South Sudan who came to pursue his education to India. The plight and hardships of migrant-refugee students came alive through his experience.
The participants found this training program to be very enriching and meaningful, they have promised to address the concerns which were mainstreamed in the training program and continue to be a part of this network for further endeavours related to counselling and mentorship.