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“Supporting people in challenging circumstances makes me proud to be involved”

Photo credit © Kushala Cooray
Kushala Cooray is a Head of Operations at Chrysalis, responsible for delivering reintegration packages for migrants returning to Sri Lanka.

Chrysalis is the local partner of ERRIN service provider IRARA in Sri Lanka and an independent affiliate of CARE International. To date, Chrysalis is managing 56 return cases. The support on offer is in line with the reintegration package elsewhere in ERRIN return countries. This means that returnees receive an in-kind allocation that they can use to cover one or several services from the ‘menu’.

This may include, for example, support to start up a business, medical or legal aid, housing assistance, educational, vocational or language training, or bespoke assistance for vulnerable groups (such as people with health issues or unaccompanied minors).

Step-by step process

Of the total caseload, 47 returnees have already met Chrysalis advisors for an initial meeting. A further 22 are at the second stage.

“The way it works in practice is that we have an initial meeting with returnees and explain what they need to do to get reintegration support and the services on offer. Some people have a clear idea about how they want to use the grant but many need time to reflect. In the second meeting we look at the options in more concrete detail,” says Cooray.

“There are challenges, like most returnees think that they receive the grant as soon as they come back to their home country. But that is not the reality. It is a step-by-step process. There are supporting documents to collate, verification checks to carry out. All this takes time,” he explains.

Kushala brings a wealth of experience from a range of sectors from finance to retail, and many years spent studying and working in Australia.

“I’m passionate about marketing, HR, procurement, IT – you name it! And I draw on all of this experience in the implementation of the ERRIN programme.”

Win-win

Cooray recounts the story of one young returnee from Germany who initially came with an idea of starting a business. Aware of the potential pitfalls his idea could present, Kushala advised him to look at other options.

“This was a young man of 24 years old. He didn’t have any experience in business but after a number of years spent living in Germany, he was fluent in German. We set about looking at how he could build on these language skills and found course for him to take that eventually helped him find a job tutoring students in German.

 “I saw this as a win-win. The returnee was thrilled with the opportunity and this also helps fill a gap in the market in Sri Lanka where the German teachers are in demand.

Chrysalis and its dedicated team of advisers is well placed to offer exactly the kind of tailor-made service that the reintegration programme demands. The organisation has much experience in providing technical expertise in business and development services divisions. 

Cooray himself only started working on the ERRIN programme six months ago but is happy with results so far:

“It has been a learning experience. But all is moving in the right direction and I’m convinced that the programme will bring tangible and sustainable benefits down the line.

“I’m convinced the programme will bring tangible and sustainable benefits down the line.”

“It’s not always easy. We also recognise that it’s not a huge amount, particularly in view of the very challenging economic situation in Sri Lanka today. But being able to offer some support to people in challenging circumstances makes me proud to be involved.”

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