Chanudi Wickramasinha is a qualified Art Therapist and is a registered professional member at Australian and New Zealand Arts Therapy Association (ANZATA). In Sri Lanka, Chanudi’s expertise in forensic rehabilitation has motivated her to research and implement a brief art therapy programme (a pilot study) as a life transformative module to be placed in reconciliation process performed by The Bureau of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation in 2011 at post-conflict detainee rehabilitation facility for ex – LTTE militants in Sri Lanka. Her continuous passion is into conflict resolution and forensic rehabilitation, and raising public awareness and support marginalized individuals in the areas related to sexuality, gender identity, HIV, drugs and sexual abuse of children in Sri Lanka. With Grassrooted, Chanu will begin by focusing on the comprehensive sexuality programme for schools.
Chanu has Masters Degree in Art Therapy from LASALLE College of Arts, Singapore, and a graduate of the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka as a Designer specialized in fashion and Textiles. She is currently reading for a Postgraduate Diploma in Counseling and Psychosocial Support at the University of Colombo.
Palitha Vijaya Bandara, a leading young advocate for people living with HIV in Sri Lanka has joined the team to work with key populations. Palitha has had valuable experience working with civil society organizations that have been led by key populations including gay and bi-sexual men, and those who identify transgender. He is still part of Positive Hopes Alliance that works for the HIV positive community in Sri Lanka. Palitha has also worked with UN agencies, most notably with UNODC on a H-13 project that sought to reduce HIV risks among people who use drugs, and more recently with UNAIDS, where he was appointed as a civil society mobilizer.
Shilpa Samaratunge has a strong background in peace and conflict analysis and also journalism, including mass communication. Recently returned to Sri Lanka, Shilpa has joined the Grassrooted team full time and will work primarily on further developing our new media unit. With her experience, and commitment, Grassrooted hopes to bring alive an informed understanding of issues related to sex, drugs and culture in Sri Lanka.
She is a graduate of the University of Queensland, Australia and has a dual degree in Journalism and Arts with an extended major in Peace and Conflict Studies.
Shyama Perera has been working in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights since 2004. Her strengths include community mobilization. With Grassrooted, Shyama leads the media research project and also works on developing resource centres for marginalized women and girls.
Gayatri Natrajan’s exposure to HIV, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, and Gender first came when she was appointed the Wake Up Pune Campaign Coordinator from 2007 to 2009. Her theatre training and background helped her to develop theatre based HIV interventions for young people in India. Gayatri is now a Trustee of The Grassrooted Trust, and focuses on women’s empowerment issues.
Gayatri has an LLB from ILS Law College in India, a BA in Economics and a Masters in English Literature from the University of Pune. She is currently on sabbatical with the view of completing her PhD on societal stigma against prostitution and its impact on sexual pleasure among sex workers and their clients within the state of Maharashtra.
Ira Madan is one of our consultants based in India. She has been with Sahara in New Delhi since 2001. She is now one of the leading advocates for HIV prevention especially among people who use drugs in India and the region. A researcher by training she is currently the head of research for Sahara. Ira’s experience and her people skills allows for her to ensure participation of all stakeholders in the design and development of research goals, designing of research tools and also training researchers to implement projects in Asia including skills on SPSS, EZ Text and Epi-Info. Ira’s personal goal is to reduce the gap between research and practice, ensuring that communities and HIV and drug user initiatives have access to the research they need to implement effective programmes at the grassroots.
Based in Pune, India since 2005, Paul has several years’ experience volunteering with the grassroots NGO Deep Griha Society, as well as the Wake Up Pune HIV awareness campaign. Paul’s focus is primarily in technology and media. Recent projects include several websites and portals, including grassrooted.net.
In May 2011 Paul started planetofthedata.com, a site focused on data visualizations, maps and infographics – often with a social development focus. Paul has also developed the first interactive map visualizing data from the 2011 India Census, accompanied by an associated Facebook application. Working with Grassrooted, Paul aims to help grassroots development organizations to maximize the benefits of online media and social networking.
Anuruddha Fernando is one of our Grassrooted Consultants. With extensive experience in the field of advertising – currently he is the Creative Group Head at Grant McCann-Erickson – Anu is helping with Grassrooted’s latest venture, Grassrooted Studios. With Anu’s help we hope to have the desired impact with relation to our short films and adverts on issues around HIV, drug use, gender, violence and sexuality. Anu is also one of the leading theatre personalities in Sri Lanka and is a regular contributor to Grassrooted theatre productions, both as an actor and director.
Anu has a BA (Hons) in English from the University of Colombo.
Poornima Egodapitiya is our young and talented in-house graphic designer. He work will include Grassrooted product development with the rest of our team, to ensure that we remain a sustainable and independent outfit; Poori will also work on our education and awareness campaigns, yet her immediate task is to focus on the layout of the sexuality education curriculum for S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia.
Poori completed her internship with advertising and design firm, TRIAD (PVT) LTD & TRIAD DIGITAL (PVT)LTD and has just completed her degree from the University of Colombo School of Computing at the University of Moratuwa.
Paba Deshapriya was a volunteer with the Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka; a passionate young advocate and activist, she was the chairperson of the Youth Technical Advisory Committee in 2008/2009, and also a member of the IPPF South Asia Region Governing Council.
Paba is an effective communicator in both English and Sinhala, and conducts workshops on adolescent sexual and reproductive health and gender. She is also an excellent written translator, and is working on developing a pragmatic Sinhala vocabulary for the issues we deal with, a vocabulary that would move discussions around sex and sexuality beyond concerns of profanity and provocation. Her main focuses currently are the comprehensive sexuality programme we’re designing for S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia, and the economic empowerment of marginalized women and girls.
Kawshalya Chandrasegaram is currently also part of the Y-PEER team in Sri Lanka. She has received extensive training in sexual and reproductive health and rights, including New GEN training conducted by Youth Lead focusing on young key populations in relation to HIV. Kawshi is an effective communicator in English, Sinhala and Tamil (her mother tongue) and is also an excellent trainer. She is a valuable addition to the Grassrooted Team; no longer will we require translators when conducting workshops and programmes for Tamil speakers.
Her key focus with Grassrooted will be on the comprehensive sexuality programme we’re designing for S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia, and workshops on HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Kawshi has a BA in Geography from the University of Colombo.
Natalie Billimoria with a degree in finance and a background in travel and tourism has come onboard as our fundraiser. She is also in the process of setting up Grassrooted USA, a support charity for Grassrooted in Sri Lanka and India. Natalie’s key focus will be in business development and marketing for all Grassrooted ventures, including our continued support of businesses run by marginalized women and girls; including survivors of violence, sex workers, HIV positive women, those who identify as transgender, and women and girls who use drugs. This will be done under the aegis of the serendib project.
She is currently following a degree in business administration at McKendree University, Illinois.
Hans Billimoria first worked with the grassroots development NGO, Deep Griha Society (DGS) in Pune, India as a volunteer in 1999. He was later Programme Manager for DISHA – Deep Griha’s Integrated Support HIV & AIDS. This included Care and Support for HIV Positive People in three urban slum communities; Prevention and Awareness programmes with varied target groups in Pune including the corporate and education sector. Hans was also a founding member of the Pune City Action Plan for Injecting Drug Users and the Wake Up Pune campaign.
In Sri Lanka and through The Grassrooted Trust, together with the passionate team, he looks forward to helping change the misconceptions people have towards HIV, those who live with it, and other key affected populations that are marginalized in Sri Lanka, including people who use drugs. His main areas of interest currently are Positive Living; Sexuality & Religion; Patriarchy, and a community response to drug use.