Jan. 20, 2021
Coming from a background of civil-war and turmoil in Sri Lanka, alumna Thilini De Visser ('12) graduated from Biola University and returned to her home country to practically apply her degree in psychology through counseling at an orphanage in Madampe.
De Visser grew up in the midst of a 25-year long civil war that recently ended. Her parents chose to take action in the middle of unrest and founded a Christian ministry within the country to serve the poor. She moved to California when she enrolled at Biola University, a decision she felt was led by God.
“God’s guidance brought me there [Biola],” said De Visser.
Taking what she learned from her childhood and her psychology degree from Biola, De Visser returned to Sri Lanka after graduation to serve orphaned children through her parents’ ministry.
Since her arrival, De Visser has worked with the children through counseling sessions and exercises that help them work through their past abuse. One of the healing exercises she uses is a theater production she created and developed to raise community awareness that abuse is present and give the children room for expression.
The production put the children center stage giving them a chance to vocalize the past, articulate areas of growth and arrive at the realization that many have the same story, said De Visser. She said the performance was transformational for those on and off stage.
“It created unity between them and brought to light the suffering that God has redeemed them,” said De Visser. “They believed in themselves and realized they didn’t need extravagance to make a difference — just their story.”
The production gave the participants value, a voice and confidence to speak for all the kids that continue to suffer daily. De Visser’s faith in God and her Biola education equipped her to not disregard these forgotten children but identify their needs, understand the situation and know how to relate to them by building relationships, she said.
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