Published: Tuesday, May 14, 2013

LS PICKS

Kaan Pete Roi: Lending an Ear

There are instances when even the best among us succumb to the despair and the hopelessness that almost all of us foster, knowingly or unknowingly. There isn’t always an explanation or reasoning behind how we feel at times. Depression develops steadily; slow and poisonous. The reasons are varied; starting from the loss of a loved one, a bad break up, problems at work, failure at tasks or being victimised in certain ways. These factors may aide us to believe that life just isn’t worth the effort or that we aren’t good enough. The problem is augmented by our failure to communicate our worries to someone else, who could perhaps have offered us some perspective.

These are the times when what you need most is a friend but often company doesn’t always love misery. On the other hand, sometimes we may feel embarrassed or uncomfortable to discuss the reasons behind our distress with someone close to us. Therefore, we would prefer not to confide in a friend, in order to protect ourselves, someone else or simply because we fear we may be judged or misunderstood. We may also not want to overburden those close to us. We could have a million explanations for refusing to reach out for help but when our distress starts sending emergency signals, it’s time for us to respond. Finally, there is someone to help us deal with our problems, providing us with the level of anonymity that is necessary to eliminate all forms of reservation.

“Kaan Pete Roi” is an emotional support helpline, staffed by trained volunteers, who people can call to just talk to or receive counselling. The brain child of Yeshim Iqbal, a graduate in Psychology who has previous experience of working for such help lines abroad, Kaan Pete Roi was the kind of thing Yeshim thought Bangladesh really needed. Yeshim felt many people were missing out on a crucial service such as an emotional distress helpline which would provide necessary support for those stigmatised.

Completely volunteer based, Kaan Pete Roi follows a basic model for such services but has tailoured itself to the needs of the country. The volunteers, numbering to more than thirty currently, go through a rigorous selection process followed by two days of full training. The volunteers themselves are probed to understand their level of patience, emotional stability and sensitivity, before being selected.

“What we are mostly concerned about is confidentiality,” Yeshim explained. “We do not ask the callers for any information relating to their identities and all our volunteers sign a very strict confidentiality agreement. Along with that, we supervise each and every call that they take,” Yeshim said. Even if callers involuntarily disclose a key piece of personal information, volunteers are strictly asked not to note down anything of that nature. Kaan Pete Roi realises that sometimes it is easiest to seek help knowing that you won’t be subject to scrutiny. The volunteers are taught to make it clear that they require no information about the person but are there just to talk. This works not only to protect the caller’s identity but helps him or her open up more, knowing that they can hang up anytime and not have to answer questions. The volunteers themselves aren’t supposed to do much rather than just listen. “Actively listening actually helps those in distress who come to realisations while talking about their own problems,” Yeshim said. The volunteers thus lend an ear without expressing opinions or trivialising the problem at hand, thus encouraging an outlet to not only vent but also to understand oneself better.

The volunteers are asked not to disclose their own names or identities and are discouraged from forging a relationship with their callers. Office addresses are not provided and individual volunteer timings are also not given out. Kaan Pete Roi goes a step further by asking their volunteers not to disclose what they do to others.

Kaan Pete Roi establishes clear boundaries with the caller. An average call lasts about 10 minutes and the line is kept free, to the best of the volunteers’ abilities, for critical cases. Although this deals with an issue that is not often addressed in our society, Kaan Pete Roi is gaining due prominence. It’s time we get talking.

Kaan Pete Roi Hotline: 01779554391, 01688709965, 01985275286, 01852035634