Mathura Thiagarajah is currently working as a school settlement counsellor, supporting students and families who are new to Canada. She has ten years of experience working with children, youth, families and seniors in various capacities, including as a youth worker, violence against women counsellor, and distress centre volunteer. In these roles, she has provided individual and family counselling, facilitated support groups, and engaged in community development and capacity building. Mathura holds a B.Sc (Hons) in Psychology and Integrative Biology from the University of Toronto and a Master of Social Work from the University of Windsor. Her practice is strengths-based, inclusive, trauma informed and is grounded in anti-oppressive theory.

Mathura will be placed in the position of Trauma Counsellor and Trainer for approximately one month under the Associateship Program with the Organisation for Rehabilitation of the Handicapped.

We asked Mathura to share some of her thoughts on her upcoming experience ahead of her placement.

Since learning that I was accepted as a diaspora changemaker, I have been reflecting on what it means to be a diaspora Tamil woman going to support women as a trauma counsellor in Vavuniya. The organisation I will be supporting, ORHAN, has done amazing work with the local community since 1999. I want to ensure that I am mindful that my interventions promote partnership and transfer of knowledge between the diaspora and the residents without the saviour mentality on the end of the diaspora and perceived helplessness on the end of the local community.

Specific to my role as a trauma counsellor I hope to work collaboratively in building capacity with individuals and the community at large. Specific interventions I plan to use acknowledge structural issues around poverty, education, health and well-being, gender equality, and peace and justice. Furthermore, through utilizing strengths-based approach my aim is to focus on identifying the skills people already possess while simultaneously supporting the development of new skills and tools.

It is important to recognize that the local community possesses knowledge, lived experience, resiliencies, and strengths. They are already doing the work and it is important to acknowledge and honour their process in healing. I am looking forward to collaborating, supporting, and learning from the women in Vavuniya.

Stay tuned to this blog to follow Mathura’s work in Vavuniya this summer.

Please consider supporting our vision to create more opportunities for the diaspora to contribute knowledge and expertise to the North and East of Sri Lanka. You can make a donation to our seed fund at