When the pandemic hit the shores of Sri Lanka, and the Government declared a curfew on 20 March, no one could have imagined the seriousness of its repercussions to every aspect of life then onwards. Schools were shut, cultivation ceased, offices remained closed and social interactions ground to a halt.
In the midst of the fear and the insecurity that gripped us all, we tend to forget its impact on the children in our country. They find it difficult to cope with their new normal away from schools. Parents share their anxiety.
Urban and private schools are trying to re-establish academic schedules with the help of technology. However, with over 60% of Sri Lanka’s population left without access to the internet, the vast majority of children remain housebound and idle at home. They have no access to their schools, their friends, to extracurricular activities and the outdoors.
Even as this is Sri Lanka’s current reality, among them, there is a special category of children who are even more vulnerable within the pandemic. Some children are trapped in their homes with abusive parents, care givers or adults. Unable to escape to schools, they are vulnerable to both cruelty and sexual abuse at home.
In April, the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) cited that their helpline had recorded a surge in complaints related to child cruelty and abuse. Disturbingly, over 300 cases of child cruelty were recorded during the initial weeks of curfew alone since the end of March this year. This indicates that children are more susceptible to abuse and cruelty in their helpless states, even within their homes and communities.
LEADS, a local NGO, with a focus on child protection and child-centred community development in Sri Lanka, was swift to respond to the crisis many households and children faced during the curfew period.
LEADS swung into action with the distribution of nearly 250 dry food packs, sanitary items for girls and women and recreational items for 286 children in Badulla, Colombo and in Jaffna Districts. This was followed by an expanded dry ration distribution to another 850 households.
Within these restricted conditions, children suffer the most in terms of food security, personal safety and wellbeing, mental and emotional health issues and in some instances are more prone to sexual and physical harassment and abuse.
LEADS plans to continue food and sanitation items to them and enable psychosocial support to children and their carers within vulnerable communities through digital means. Your help is critical for LEADS to help these children and their families in their time of need.
If you wish to support them, please contact LEADS:
Direct donation to bank:
Bank: Standard Chartered Bank
Account Name: LEADS
Account No: 01 1195271 01
SWIFT Code: SCBLLKLX
The LEADS webpage using credit/debit cards: https://leads.lk/donation/
Dialog mobile phone users: Type LEADS <Space> AMOUNT and SMS to 366
For information contact Diordre Moraes on: Diordre@leads.lk or on mobile (0094)773187652.