Razni Razick is an unstoppable force of nature when it comes to helping marginalized communities in Sri Lanka. Awarded ‘The Most Outstanding Young Person’ award, and also a holder of the ‘Desha Abhimani’ title, Razni is yet another example of how much just one person can achieve by caring enough.
By Thushanthi Ponweera
On Her Journey
Growing up I was very fond of children, which led me to pursue a career as an early childhood educator and counselor. I never actively set out to be a social activist but I’ve always believed in the values of the profession. I wanted to help protect people’s rights and dignity, particularly those who are most vulnerable in our society, by looking at ways they could break the cycle of poverty by providing long term, sustainable solutions for them. I also wanted to be available to people in need, to provide emotional support to those who are struggling, and be a voice for the unheard.
In May 2016, I partnered with a friend who I came to know in our volunteering efforts during the floods. Our intention at the time was never to start a formal organization, but to merely serve the community and reach out to deserving people and help them out! Care Station was only officially formed in 2018.
As I reflect upon where we started as grass root organization and to where we are now, I am truly humbled. We’ve had the opportunity to work on over hundred projects worth millions in just over a year, with 200 registered volunteers across the country, covering 18 districts. We’ve been able to offer hope and stability to thousands, and through our work, we have earned the right to be heard by influential decision makers at the government level, and on a global level, to be recognized as operational partners for the UNHCR.
On Her Influences
For as long as I can remember, I knew that I wanted to make a difference in the world, and was naturally drawn towards social work. My parents are very generous and loving individuals themselves, so this set the foundation for me.
The defining moment was when I went into volunteering at a centre for street kids many years ago, not really knowing what I was about to experience. After about a week I realized that this was what I was meant to do all along.
Burn out and self care we are constantly assisting people who are going through horrendous situations. We do this day in and out for prolonged periods of time. But the biggest challenge to date is managing time. As the Chairman of the organization, I am answerable to many stakeholders: our beneficiaries, volunteers, clients, donors, board, partners, community, and our own staff. Every single audience has different needs, wants and goals and you need to be mindful of tailoring your actions and communications accordingly. A relatively minor misstep could lead to the loss of trust and reputation. This is an aspect of non-profits that few outside the sector appreciate or realize. The rest are operational issues.
On Motherhood and the Work-Life Balance
Just a day after my son was born, I was in and out of the hospital assisting a young mother who was under our care with an ailment. Ever since, I’ve taken baby along with me everywhere – meetings, special events, award ceremonies, even field visits. It has definitely helped us bond, and I hope that seeing me work to create positive change will arm him with the tools to do the same when he grows up.
Being a mother has definitely changed how I view my work, but in the best way possible. My attachment is now amplified in both directions, and I find myself prioritizing child related cases more than I did before. The world is scarier and more dangerous now, yet at the same time I get to see things through the eyes of my innocent child, with wonder and amazement.
Self-care is so important when it comes to working in such an emotional environment. I am grateful that I have a very supportive husband, he definitely rebalances me. On emotionally overwhelming days I love to go on long drives with my little son and husband! It helps me unwind, relax, and to ponder whatever is going on in my life. Early morning strolls on the beach, caring for my pets, reading, and gardening also help me destress
On Her Achievements
Starting my own NGO and winning the credibility and trust of people is something I’m very proud of. Social work is about assessing needs and helping people become more self-sufficient than they were when they came to us. So, what I consider as my biggest achievements are the less public ones, like making a connection with a beneficiary that helps me reach those goals. And of course, the priceless moments where I see hope in the eyes of a young girl, and recognition of her own greatness, or a rare hearty laugh from a homeless man. The awards and accolades I received have only served as a stepping stone to reach out to more people.
As appeared in Pulse Magazine, June 2020 issue.