Sri LankaSPRING 2010 COUNTRY REPORTIt has been a truly amazing season here at Free The Children and we could not have done it without all of your wonderfulsupport. Changing the world is no simple feat. It requires the hard work and passion of change makers like you!Not only are you helping build vital development projects, you are empowering the community members of Sri Lankawith the tools and resources they need to become agents of change in their own communities. Together, we can build abrighter future so that all children can grow up to be happy, healthy and active citizens!
LEARN MORE ABOUT... Free The Children in Sri Lanka Impact at a Glance: Classrooms built: 8 Students: 515 Teachers: 25 Clean water systems built: 500 Hand washing stations built: 3 Latrines built: 9 Women in microcredit program: 115Sri LankaSri Lanka is a small, tear-shaped island located south east of India. Sri Lanka gained independence from the United Kingdomin 1948 and became a republic in 1972. Ever since, there has been a long history of conflict and civil war. The war has beenfought mainly between the Sinhalese government and the Tamil rebels. As host to one of the world’s longest-running civilwars, parts of Sri Lanka have been left devastated, with thousands of civilians displaced and many killed. The government’smilitary spending during this time was especially high, which meant that there were few public resources dedicated toproviding education and essential social and health services to the people. In May 2009, Sri Lanka’s government declared anofficial end to its 26-year civil war. This announcement hopefully provides the country with the political stability it needs toallow for effective and sustainable socio-economic development.High levels of poverty, especially in the rural areas, have meant that many children drop out of school to work and providetheir families with income. Currently there are more than 900,000 Sri Lankan children involved in child labour. Thousands ofthem (estimates range from 50,000 to 100,000) are believed to be employed in domestic service –an industry which remainsunregulated and undocumented. As well, commercial fishing is one of the most popular and destructive forms of child la-bour in Sri Lanka. Children are recruited to remote commercial fishing spots (commonly known as ‘vaadiyas’) where they arekept in conditions of virtual slavery.Free the Children started working in Sri Lanka in 2004 after that year’s devastating tsunami. In fact, we were one of the firstorganizations on the ground re-building schools and creating a sense of normalcy amongst children. Our Adopt-A-Villageprojects in Sri Lanka focus on repairing and rebuilding schools destroyed in the tsunami, as well as establishing new devel-opment initiatives, like clean water wells and alternative income projects. Following years of civil war and tsunami devasta-tion, Sri Lanka has begun to rebuild itself and lift its people from poverty and exploitation. Sri Lanka COUNTRY REPORT
ADOPT A VILLAGEEducationIn Sri Lanka, Free The Children schools have seen consis- large bright windows and the selection of the colours oftently high attendance rates and student involvement as the building. They are happy to be learning in classroomsthe quality of education increases and more classrooms which are bright, roomy and safe. The parent-teacher com-are built. The community of Thalahena celebrated the mittee is also actively involved in the maintenance and carecompletion of four new classrooms with an opening of the school, which has created a real sense of ownershipceremony on May 5, 2010. Students are excited to learn within the community. Through this same committee theand study in the new, spacious and well-ventilated build- nine female teachers are encouraging parents to send theirings. In addition, the 12 female and 4 male teachers are daughters to school and are raising awareness about themotivated to constantly nurture and educate their stu- importance of girls completing a full course of primary edu-dents. Because of the improved facilities, more parents in cation. Today in the community there are an equal numberthe community are encouraging their children to attend of male and female students attending class! Students andschool as they see it as a new beginning for their sons and teachers take great pride in their school and have deco-daughters. rated classrooms with their art work. Free The Children is working in partnership with parents, students and teachersIn Palangathurai, another community where Free The as all groups work actively to improve education for all ofChildren built a school last year, the students were in- the children in each of these communities.volved in the design of their new school, including the At Thalahena School we encourage education for both boys and girls! Students from Thalahena School learning and having fun in a brand new classroom! Sri Lanka COUNTRY REPORT
ADOPT A VILLAGEWater and Sanitation Alternative IncomeDue to the long history of civil unrest Free The Children works in communi- beginning the same program thisin Sri Lanka, the government’s over- ties where fishing is the primary source year. The businesses started by thesespending on defense has been a detri- of income. However, recent govern- women include dry fish making andment to the country’s general popula- ment restrictions which limit access to packing, cake-making, tailoring, pettytion, particularly in rural areas like the fishing grounds have led to the loss of trading, grocery shops, food processingcommunities where Free The Children livelihoods and an increase in poverty and hairdressing. Women also receiveworks. Decreased investment in social levels. Sri Lankans have also seen a rise financial literacy training as well as skillssectors such as water and sanitation in the cost of basic food items, meaning training specific to their chosen busi-has left people without basic services. that families are often forced to forego ness.To address these challenges and to im- essential food items. Women and chil-prove the standard of living of Sri Lanka’s dren are most affected. They not only Since joining the program, the aver-most vulnerable communities, Free The consume foods which lack vital nutri- age incomes of program participantsChildren has been working to build la- ents and minerals but also often find have soared from $50 a month to $300trines, hand-washing stations and clean themselves eating “last and least.” a month! In 2009, the women of Ku-water systems. Having an adequate dapaduwa also established their ownnumber of latrines in schools is instru- To improve these conditions, Free The bank, called the Livelihood Develop-mental in ensuring that girls continue Children’s alternative income program ment Bank, the motto of which is “Em-with their education. In the community work with women in the communities powering Women to Build Sustainableof Palagathurai, three new latrines have of Kudapaduwa and Sea Street, mak- Livelihoods.” The women are able tobeen built for the community’s schools. ing an incredibly positive impact on access and pay back loans through thisThe community of Thalahena has seen their families income and well-being. bank. They also receive 7% interest onsix latrines built for their new schools, One-hundred-and-fifteen women have their savings deposits – a rate that isas well as three hand-washing stations. been provided with micro-credit loans, higher than any government or com-One of the most exciting projects has allowing them to start, diversify and mercial bank. They are empowered bybeen providing 500 clean water sys- expand their own businesses. The ob- their newfound economic indepen-tems to family homes, which was com- jective of this program is to enable eco- dence and by the significant accom-pleted early last year in the community nomic empowerment for women and plishments they have made, and theyof Sea Street. Clean water and regular nurture greater gender equality. The are thrilled to share the benefits withhand-washing are a necessary and ef- women of Kudapaduwa have a 100% their families and the wider community.fective means of reducing preventable repayment rate and based on their suc-disease in the communities in which cess, the women of Sea Street are nowwe work. Sri Lanka COUNTRY REPORT
A WORLD OF IMPACTSusewge dreams of becoming a teacher so that she can educate hercommunity about peaceMeet Susewge Nirasha Rekani Fernando because the woman loves all of her students and teachesEleven-year-old Susewge attends Free The Children’s new- them knowledge every day. For fun she loves gardening andest school in Sri Lanka, in the community of Thalahena. Her playing badminton. Nothing is as delightful to Susewge asmother is a homemaker, her father a mason and she is proud when her family gathers to celebrate. She especially lovesto be a role model to her seven-year old sister Nishalka. Ev- eating cake!ery morning Susewge wakes up early and eats bread forbreakfast before she heads to her brand new school, where This thoughtful, compassionate girl has many dreams for “The newshe is in grade 6. She said of her new school, the future. Seeing the poverty around her, Susewge has re- solved to earn a good living as a strong young woman sobuildings are so beautiful and they en- that she can build a better life for her family, herself and hercourage me to learn!” She particularly loves learn- community. Some of her goals are simpler; she would loveing about religions. She is working hard at her studies and is new clothes and a bicycle for her and her family, but abovehappy to see herself improving all the time, especially in her all, she wants the world to end fighting and for every childTamil language class because she finds it to be the most chal- to know happiness. She wishes that she could bring peacelenging. After school is done for the day she helps her family to everyone and she believes that for this to come about ev-with chores, such as sweeping, watering plants, cooking with erybody needs to listen to one another. To play her part inher mother and collecting water from a nearby well. Her fa- finding peace she wants very much to be a teacher and shevourite thing about being at home is being with her mother is incredibly grateful to Free The Children for the opportunitywhom she loves very much. She also loves spending time to have an education. She knows that she needs to stay inwith her best friend Mithin because she is kind-hearted. Of school and study to achieve the wonderful aspirations thatall the people in the world, her hero is her teacher Dilrushki she has for herself and for the world. Sri Lanka COUNTRY REPORT