Interactive Sports Day
Kids always look forward to the end of a school term as it marks the beginning of another holiday season. For the Sunshine Children the summer term ended in a special sports-meet. Special, because for the first time it included the participation of the wider community. Participating at previous sporting events were children, their parents and staff. This time participation included representatives from local government, pre-school education bureau, the organization’s partner at local level - The Church of the American Ceylon Mission, members of the local police station and the neighbouring community. The inclusiveness of the event allowed the local community to get to know the work of the day care centre in a friendly and sociable atmosphere and above all have a human contact to the children.
Community Participation is interpreted in different ways at different times. The definition The Sunshine Charity has pursued since being established, is similar to the one defined in a 2004 publication by The Policy Press, UK - “community participation means the engagement of individuals and communities in decisions affecting their lives,”. Though many organizations do adopt this concept, working directly for and with a community entails much more. Encouraged by the Gandhian principles of community engagement, the trustees have strived to keep the participatory role of the community as part of every programme implemented, whether it be the designing of the menu for the vulnerable children served, creative opportunities and outings for the children or health care, parents, children and members of the staff have contributed their time generously to achieve the mission.
Exemplary qualities were seen this year by local suppliers and companies. Encouraged by the value of the community projects and understanding the participatory concept adopted, regular suppliers have treated the children with cake and milk followed by some fun play-time.
Providing a proper kitchen at the day care centre also lead to another meaningful community participation. Initially, the one nutritious meal provided for the children was cooked elsewhere and transported to the day care centre. This was followed by the food being cooked on firewood within the day care centre compound. Although inconvenient, limited funding did not allow a fully equipped kitchen. As time went, the kitchen was upgraded but it was only recently that the day care centre was provided with a ‘super kitchen’. Since the contractor assigned had been working with construction, repairs and maintenance of the centre over the years, he had got to know the organizations objectives and intent for the children served. Very often he would contribute his talent voluntarily. His approach encouraged a group of mothers to donate a gas cooker for the super kitchen. Many of these families can hardly afford a gas cooker for their own homes but their collective generosity provided for one at the day care centre. This is a good example of where community members showed ownership through voluntary contributions.
Understanding the needs of the community is a key component of the Sunshine Charity programmes. Using the correct tools to connect to the community, engaging them and encouraging them to be part of the process has helped enhance their active participation, leading to the sustainability of our work.
Happy to be at Day Care