SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka offers a loving home for children who have lost parental care

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

Currently there are 340,000 children who have lost parental care due to various reasons in Sri Lanka. These children grow up without basic human needs such as food, water, clothing, shelter and also lack sanitation, education and healthcare. Some of these children even face physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse. SOS Children’s Villages in Sri Lanka is an organisation that provides alternative care for children who have lost parental care in Sri Lanka.

A recent visit to SOS Children’s Villages in Piliyandala proved the main reason for a program of this nature in Sri Lanka. Offering children what they would have otherwise be deprived of, SOS Children’s Village model is based on the belief that in order to thrive, every child needs a loving mother, a safe home, siblings and a stable community. SOS families live together, forming a supportive village environment where children enjoy a happy childhood. 

SOS Children’s Villages have been in Sri Lanka for over 36 years with six Children’s Villages across the island in Piliyandala, Galle, Nuwara-Eliya, Anuradhapura, Monaragala and Jaffna serving more than 41,000 children. 

In each of the Children’s Villages, children are cared for in family homes by women who have dedicated their lives to being ‘SOS mothers’. An SOS mother raises a generation of children as her own and must be able to meet their physical and emotional needs from infancy right up to adulthood. Each Village also has ‘SOS Aunts’ who play a supporting role for the mothers when the need arises. The village is equipped with a retirement home for these mothers who dedicate their lives to raising children who are not biologically theirs but raised as their own.

“Even though I did not give birth to my children, in every other sense they are every bit mine. I have been with SOS Children’s Villages for 25 years. I have 30 children and four grandchildren. I am their mother, they are my responsibility and I am committed to loving them and giving the best so that they can grow to be better citizens. But my commitment alone isn’t sufficient for their journey. Please support us to support them,” said Kalyani, an SOS Mother. 

Furthermore, every child receives the education and skills training they need to be successful and contributing members of society. SOS Children’s Village has a kindergarten and a school used not only by children in the SOS Village but the residents in the area as well. The curriculum in the school is managed by the Government in line with local educational guidelines.

Enabling youth to make the transition to independent living and become responsible, independent adults, at the age of 14 for boys and 18 for girls, they are moved into a ‘SOS Youth Facility’. With the support of a qualified youth worker, who lives in the youth facility, they develop realistic perspectives for their future, learn to take on increased responsibilities, and increasingly make their own decisions. However, the love and bond the children develop with their SOS mother and siblings is unbreakable and the children are always welcomed into their homes.  

With the objective of preventing children from losing the care of their family, SOS Children’s Villages also runs a Family Strengthening Programme around the areas they operate in. 

“Through this program we empower families, to strengthen their capacity to protect and care for their children, and strengthen safety nets for vulnerable children and their families within the community. Currently, we serve around 3,350 children around the country that belongs to nearly 2,000 families,” said Divakar Ratnaduri – Deputy National Director, SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka.

During the past 36 years, SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka was mainly funded by international individual donors and other philanthropists, mostly living in Europe. With the end of the war, Sri Lanka is now considered as one of the middle income countries in Asia and as such, the umbrella organisation (SOS Children’s Villages International) has implemented a gradual subsidy reduction in funding and started to channel more international subsidies to the poorer countries in Asia and in other continents. 

By the year 2023, all international funds will cease and SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka must be self-sufficient. In view of this, there is an urgent need to create awareness amongst the citizens of the country to once again unite together and assist in safeguarding these vulnerable children. 

The cut down on funding from the umbrella organisation has already started to affect SOS Children’s Villages in Sri Lanka and they are forced to cut-down on what they offer children. Unfortunately, the nine kindergartens are first to face the struggle and may have to be shut down in 2019 if they are unable to meet the required funding. For some poverty stricken parents, the kindergarten is the only means of giving toddlers a nutritious meal for the day. 

To sponsor a child supported by SOS Children’s Villages, is Rs. 1,500 monthly and Rs. 18,000 annually whilst a family can be sponsored at Rs. 15,000 monthly and Rs. 180,000 annually.

For further information, please do call on 011 2 702712/0772366106 or email [email protected],org or log into -Pix by Upul Abayasekara