Our partner, LEADS (Lanka Evangelical Alliance Development Service), is a Christian agency working to transform communities in Sri Lanka.
Two rural communities in eastern and southern Sri Lanka. One community has been affected by the long running civil conflict that ended in 2009, and the other was affected by the 2004 Asian Tsunami.
How child sponsorship works here
As a very new program, the first step has been to set up Child Protection Committees made up of parents, teachers and other leaders in the communities. These committees are being trained in child rights and protection and also to advocate for the protection of children. Other parent and community groups will focus on the development of the community. One of the first concerns to address is the lack of clean water available in the community.
Children's clubs are being formed, providing places for children to have fun as well as learn about health and nutrition. These groups are an important part of the program, as they allow children to participate in the program, contributing their ideas, implementing activities and reporting back on the impact of the program. The children themselves lead the groups and decided on the topics they want to cover, with support from project staff and the various adults' groups.
Self-help groups for parents and other community members are also being formed, with a central Community Based Organisation which will represent all the groups. They have plans to start group savings schemes, to help parents have access to loans in emergencies. These savings could also fund small business initiatives to help families earn extra income.
Volunteer Health Group
The Volunteer health group is currently being formed. The 15 members of this group, including at least three children, will decide on important health issues for the community, which they want to learn more about. After these topics have been agreed and approved by the government health officers, the group will receive training and then put on health awareness programs for the community.
What the children are saying
This is a very new program; in early feedback, all the children say that one of the biggest problems in their communities is alcoholism, particularly in men. As well as having an effect on household finances, these children say that their homes aren’t peaceful, and abuse is common.
The children want to go to school, but many have to work to add to the family income. The community estimates that 75% of children drop out of school because families need the income that their children can earn.