Hemas ‘Piyawara Singithi Diriya’ Prison Project to enrich and empower children

Wednesday, 30 August 2017 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

00The Hemas Outreach Foundation (HOF), in collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs of Sri Lanka and the Welikada Prison Authorities, launched ‘Piyawara Singithi Diriya’, a special project aimed at empowering the lives of children under the age of five years living with their mothers at the Welikada prison for no fault of their own. The event took place in the presence of the Foundation Trustees, Foundation Brand Ambassador Roshan Mahanama and employees of Hemas Holdings PLC. 

An extension to the Foundation’s ‘Piyawara’ Early Childhood Development initiative established in 2002, the ‘Piyawara Singithi Diriya’ programme will focus on enhancing the quality of life of the children residing at the prison quarters with their mothers who are prisoners at the Welikada Prison. 

The Foundation identified that there are approximately 15 to 20 children between the ages of three months and five years on average who are compelled to reside with their mothers in a separate prison ward under appalling conditions, as well as encounter a lack of proper nutrition as the prison is unable to provide a separate meal plan for children. This entails the young children having to consume the same food as their adult mothers.  

In an effort to enrich and empower the lives of these innocent young children, the Hemas Outreach Foundation will be refurbishing the existing prison ward to ensure improved sleeping conditions, sanitation facilities, and establish a play area within the premises. Further, along with providing the basic daily nutrition requirements of the children, Hemas will be distributing consignments of its Baby Cheramy products under the supervision of the HOF and Prison Authorities on a monthly basis. 

“This is a much needed program that is fully supported by the Children’s Secretariat of the Ministry. We, being the policy makers on Early Childhood Care & Development (ECCD), are thankful to our developmental partner Hemas for initiating a sustainable project of this value.  We will continue to assist in the monitoring process and coordinate with the Prison Authorities to ensure that the children residing at the prison will avail of this great initiative,” said Ministry of Women and Child Affairs Children’s Secretariat Director Nayana Senaratna.

Prison Superintendent Chandana Ekanayaka said: “We want to provide the right environment for these children who will be under our supervision whilst their mothers are inmates of this prison. It is a daunting task to provide the right environment in a location like this, but we know that providing proper nutrition and a conducive environment for these children during their early years is critical for their future development.   We are thankful to Hemas for setting an example and initiating the effort to assist us and implement the ‘Piyawara Singithi Diriya’ project to ensure its sustainability.”

“The management and employees of Hemas consider the ‘Piyawara Singithi Diriya’ initiative one that is close to their hearts and therefore, are wholeheartedly extending their support towards funding the project.  As a result, the monthly nutritional expenses of the children are borne by our employees themselves. Refurbishment expenses that are estimated to cost Rs. 3 million are primarily personal donations from the Senior Management of Hemas, while the remainder will be channeled by the Foundation. We have always had great faith in our partnership with the Children’s Secretariat of the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs that has enabled us to work together with the Prison Authorities to ensure that we are able to oversee the Early Childhood Care & Development of these children, as well as drive the sustainability of a project of this nature,” said Hemas Outreach Foundation Executive Director Shiromi Masakorala. 

She added: “Personally, I am proud to be working for a socially responsible organisation such as Hemas that comprehends the genuine needs of our country and its people.”

 With a  mission ‘to enrich the lives of underprivileged children of Sri Lanka through Early Childhood Care & Development, the Hemas Outreach Foundation launched ‘Piyawara’ in 2002 to provide a holistic approach to ECCD with the core beneficiaries being children under the age of five years in Sri Lanka. 

‘Piyawara’ was initiated in partnership with the Children’s Secretariat of the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs and at present, enable an increasing number of children to benefit from the 41 Piyawara preschools that are established across the country.  In addition to constructing preschools, the ‘Piyawara’ program focuses on teacher training, parental awareness programs, empowering children with disabilities, emergency intervention during disasters, and curtailing child abuse through building awareness in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Police.