Children’s Homes

When a childcare home in the City managed by the Department of Probation and Child Care closed down, the fifteen babies were given over to Sarvodaya. A house was purchased in Moratuwa, in the outskirts of the City and a childcare home was established. Staff were recruited and gradually as the number of children increased, more homes were opened. Today there are 12 homes scattered in numerous parts of the country with over 500 children in residence.

Most of the Homes are a resource for the village, – very much a part of the village social structure just as the temple, the church or the school is. The Wariyapola Home, for example, is not merely a residence for abandoned and helpless children. It is a Pre-school for the children in the neighbouring areas and a Vocational Training Centre for school leavers.

Children in the Homes attend schools close-by and most of them are good in their studies as well as sports and other extra-curricular activities.

Niranjala from the Saliyapura Home (North-East province) studies at the Saliyapura Maha Vidyalaya. She is the first in her class of 40 children and also the Head Girl of the school. She has excelled in sports as well.

A Home for Teenage Mothers

One night, a 13-year old girl raped by her step father (the mother – a house-maid in the Middle East – having gone to earn money, leaving the girl with the step father and his mother) was brought by the Police to the Suwasetha Home in distant Wariyapola in the north western territory of Sri Lanka . She was three months pregnant. The magistrate had instructed that she be kept in the Home until the case is heard. Keeping a pregnant young mother with normal young orphaned girls was a problem. This triggered the setting up of a separate Home for such helpless teenagers.

That was six years ago. Today ‘Ma-Sevana (a shade for the mothers) Teenage Mothers Home’ is a haven for young mothers who are victims of sexual abuse, rape and incest. It is the only home in Sri Lanka where residential care and protection are offered to the psychologically traumatized teenage mothers.

This facility has opened a new chapter in Sri Lanka ‘s judicial history where the normal practice is to treat abused teenagers as prisoners. They are sent to the remand prison where they are kept with other female convicts until the court case is over. Now they are sent to ‘Ma-Sevana’.

At Ma-Sevana, training in vocational skills is provided in dressmaking, handicrafts and the bakery trade, together with home gardening, cookery and other household activities. The girls are also put through a programme of non-formal education in place of formal education, which they missed in the course of their lives. Counselling forms an integral part of their programme.

Malnourished Babies

Imagine a helpless two-month old baby girl being found in a polythene bag dangling from the post of a barbed wire fence. A man passing by picks up the bag and finds a baby inside it. The mother has abandoned her. She is brought to Suwasetha.

At the Suwasetha Nutrition Centre, she is restored to health. Today the little one is a steadily growing, happy girl, surviving all the way through her first birthday.

The Centre provides loving care and affection for severely malnourished babies abandoned -mostly by unwed mothers. Babies who face the possibility of death at all times, barely receiving enough food to hold on to life for another day, are looked after by a trained staff including trained nurses. A medical officer checks them once a week. Nutritious food is given to them along with vitamins.

Suwasetha needs funds to look after these toddlers. Not only their food and medicines, but their clothing, toys and other needs as well.

Helping the Disabled Child

Among the children handed over to Suwasetha were several women who were severely disabled and as they grew older and engaged in income generating activities in a Sheltered Workshop; and thus a Rest Home was established in Talpawila, Matara in the deep South of Sri Lanka . The young women with disabilities are given training in numerous vocations like sewing and are encouraged to be self-sufficient by selling the products they turn out. A House Mother looks after them since they are unable to manage on their own.

IIn addition, Suwasetha implements a community-based rehabilitation project in remote villages. The project is underway in two districts in Southern Sri Lanka . Physically and mentally disabled individuals are visited in their homes by our trained field workers who provide them with home level training in mobility, communication, activities of daily living, and also train mothers and other family members in basic skills of training the disabled persons. In addition the families are referred to other services depending on their needs. Special ‘mother and child’ programmes are conducted where the mother of a child or a family member is trained to look after the disabled member in the family.

Four day-care centres are run for intellectually impaired children in Kalutara, Warakagoda, Matara and Ratmalana.

The School for Hearing-Impaired has been acclaimed as one of the best in Sri Lanka . Around eighty Hearing Impaired children at this residential facility receive a complete model education with modern facilities fitted with hearing aids. A team of fully trained teachers skilled in sign language perform their task very well.

There is also a computer training centre and a library providing the children with opportunities to develop their knowledge and computer skills.

The Centre provides loving care and affection for severely malnourished babies abandoned -mostly by unwed mothers. Babies who face the possibility of death at all times, barely receiving enough food to hold on to life for another day, are looked after by a trained staff including trained nurses. A medical officer checks them once a week. Nutritious food is given to them along with vitamins.

Suwasetha needs funds to look after these toddlers. Not only their food and medicines, but their clothing, toys and other needs as well.

Tsunami affected

Suwasetha joined hands with Sarvodaya to provide immediate relief measures during the tsunami disaster in December 2004 when over 40,000 persons lost their lives. Displaced persons numbering 332,737 are in 556 refugee camps. The extent of damage to property has not been assessed.

When the tragedy struck, Sarvodaya stopped all its activities and worked in the disaster struck areas. Suwasetha Sewa Society and the Sarvodaya Emergency Disaster Management Committee started fulfilling the basic human needs of the survivors. Arrangements were made to accommodate orphaned children in its 12 children’s homes and at Sarvodaya Headquarters. Once Suwasetha’s current refurbishment programme is completed, application will be made for new admittances inclusive of children affected by the tsunami.

As part of a rehabilitation programme, a Guardian Parent Scheme is in operation. Thirty school going children who had lost their parents were selected for sponsorship. A monthly payment of Rs.1,500 is made to each student, of which approximately Rs.500 is kept aside as a saving.


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