More than 100 Buddhist priests attended St John Sri Lanka’s first Basic First Aid and Disaster Management workshop in Dambulla, around 100 miles from the Capital Colombo. The workshop was planned for almost 2 years, but Covid delayed its start. Now, Priests from all over the country could finally come together to learn practical life-saving skills.

Sri Lanka is a majority Buddhist country, and priests play an important leadership role in local communities and in the country’s education system. Some priests are involved with the Education Ministry, providing expertise in helping to improve the “Daham Pasal” (similar to a Sunday school) education among students. Lately, a new initiative called “Sati Pasal” (“Mindfulness School”) is helping young children to improve on their concentration, help with their studies and become good citizens. Although the initiative is non-religion, priests are involved in its delivery, and are responsible for keeping the children safe. First Aid skills are crucial tool for doing so.

This was discussed at the Education Ministry of the Central Province, with St John being asked to present a curriculum for the priests’ training. The two-day workshop was then delivered on request of the State Ministry of Pirivena to priests involved in education, and from three main temples. The priests were trained in Basic First Aid, life-saving procedures (especially drowning in water) and on the National Disaster Plan (prevention, mitigation and incident management). Also, a lack of Covid-19 and hygiene knowledge amongst the priests was evident, and this was addressed by the workshop. All participants received a certificate at the end of the training.

The priests were very interested, and they realised that their new knowledge will also help them serving their local villages better. In addition, they can now treat accidents and sudden illnesses amongst themselves, some of them had led to fatalities in the past months because they stayed unattended.

Together with St John Sri Lanka, the priests are now looking into ways of expanding the workshop to other parts of the country and involving as many members of the clergy as possible.

Read more about St John Sri Lanka here.

May 2021