A typical day for children attending the Sunshine Day care and Preschool would mean enjoying their time at the centre from the moment they are picked up from their homes to the time they are dropped off. During the time spent, the children practice writing skills, work with art material to create something beautiful which they often take back home to proudly show-off to their parents, playtime and what they look forward to most is a plate of noodles stir-fried with heaps vegetables and egg.
Speaking to twenty-seven- year-old Marian, “It is not every, day care and preschool that offers a basket of opportunities like here. While some do not have the adequate funding to provide preschool material others do not have committed teachers.My daughter Francis’s first school experience was when she joined the Sunshine Preschool in January 2020. I heard about the place from Joslin, a former assistant teacher who said the centre will be the ideal place for Francis especially since she has a disability with her hand. At the school she is taken good care and is not treated differently. This makes all the difference. It is Francis’s final year at the preschool after which she will transfer to the local primary school. If Francis’s did not have this opportunity, she would have stayed home”.
Marian is from Negombo on the west coast of the island and transferred to live in Trincomalee on the east coast when she married Fernando from the village of Attamotai. Fernando works as a carpenter earning Rs. 1,500 (US$ 7.5) per day. Along with their five-year old daughter they live in a rented house paying a monthly rental of Rs. 1,000 (US$ 5). With such a meagre income, vulnerable households like the Fernando’s would not be able to afford enrolling their children at a paying preschool. With no missed opportunities, Francis will certainly have a head-start when she transfers to the local primary school.
With each visit to Trincomalee, we meet with about three to four Sunshine families at their homes or at the school. Listening to their voices matter and acting upon it matters more! Their trust in the organization inspires us to continue our work with particular focus on education and nutrition.
Kala is a single mother and is employed as a cook at the Sunshine Preschool. Supported by volunteer mothers, she attends to the meals provided for the fifty children. “I lost my husband sometime time back. Being a widow, I have to earn for my family of three children. My five-year old daughter Dinya is a student here. This is very advantageous as I can bring her to school, attend to the cooking and take her home when I leave the place. What I earn here is my only source of income. It is a pity that I did not know about the school when my two boys were growing up, so they stayed home without any preschool education. Dinya is fortunate to have this opportunity”.
Education is one of the most effective ways to empower communities but for vulnerable families living in remote areas, access to it has been a huge challenge. Unpresidential barriers from transportation to affording educational and creative learning material have denied their children with early childhood learning which is seen as the foundation for lifelong learning. Children like Francis and Dinya are two children among fifty children who have benefitted from the amazing opportunities offered at the Sunshine day care and preschool.
Mary Remoshan with daughter Francesca
Have a sip of Milk
Udayakala with daughter Divya