Amanvir Mandair

From May 16 to June 26 this summer, I travelled to the Grace Care Center (GCC) girl’s orphanage in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka. The purpose of my project there was to aid a group of Ann Arbor-based physicians in determining the causes and forms of psychological trauma affecting the children at GCC. I was also objectively evaluated the effectiveness of the trauma therapy they have received in the previous two years, and used all of this information to identify ways to improve the lives of these children and create a more informed picture of the struggles faced by orphans in impoverished nations. In order to help the physicians volunteering for GCC to achieve these goals, I performed a number of tasks over the course of my six-week stay. I first obtained the quantitative clinical evaluations made by clinical psychologists and counselors working at GCC in the previous year. I then organized the data into graphs to indicate whether the orphanage girls showed therapeutic improvements in a variety of different psychological categories, such as hyperactivity or pro-social behavior. I then obtained records of the girls’ school grades, and correlated trends in their grades within the two-year treatment period as a quantitative assessment of the therapy and counseling they had been receiving. Following this, I performed extensive interviews with each of the 32 girls at the orphanage on their family histories, traumatic incidents, and current sources of anxiety or worry, as well as interests and career goals. I then combined this qualitative information with information on the girls collected by physicians, medical student volunteers from the University of Michigan, clinical psychologists volunteering for GCC, and orphanage staff, and I compiled it into an extensive 70-page record and database on the orphanage children that I created upon returning to the U.S. This database will now be the official information record used by physicians and clinical psychologists in the GCC organization. Using all of this quantitative and qualitative information, in addition, my physician mentors and I are now in the process of publishing a research paper based on our findings. We hope to shed light on issues facing orphanages in developing countries and the ways in which we can improve the lives of the orphans residing there. Our research will also be used to create future workshops and programs at GCC that will teach the girls important life skills and foster independence to help them succeed and prosper in their school work and future endeavors.