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Taking Care of 50 Vulnerable Sri Lankan Children

by The Sunshine Charity
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Taking Care of 50 Vulnerable Sri Lankan Children
Taking Care of 50 Vulnerable Sri Lankan Children
Taking Care of 50 Vulnerable Sri Lankan Children
Taking Care of 50 Vulnerable Sri Lankan Children
Taking Care of 50 Vulnerable Sri Lankan Children
Taking Care of 50 Vulnerable Sri Lankan Children
Taking Care of 50 Vulnerable Sri Lankan Children
Taking Care of 50 Vulnerable Sri Lankan Children
Taking Care of 50 Vulnerable Sri Lankan Children
Taking Care of 50 Vulnerable Sri Lankan Children
Taking Care of 50 Vulnerable Sri Lankan Children
Taking Care of 50 Vulnerable Sri Lankan Children
Taking Care of 50 Vulnerable Sri Lankan Children
Taking Care of 50 Vulnerable Sri Lankan Children
Taking Care of 50 Vulnerable Sri Lankan Children
a page from the book One Country and One People
a page from the book One Country and One People

Creating Equality, Closing Gaps, Building Trust

-          An innovative and creative initiative for children

by Sharadha de Saram – Project Leader

The Sunshine Charity together with Sri Lanka’s largest grass-root movement, the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movemnt launched the initiative, ‘Investing in Children’ based on the story ‘One Country and One People’. The story, originally written in English conveys creatively and positively the island’s colourful cultural fabric that weaves our nation’s people – from the colonial period of the Portuguese, Dutch and British to Independence of the country and what followed. The story goes on to explain the different ethnic groups that live on the island and the different faiths practiced.

As the forward in the book explains:

 “At a time when we were children, we grew up with less hatred and mistrust that we find among our different ethnic and religious groups today. Times have changed, chiefly due to the continuous misjudging of events by most of us, whether we be policy makers, religious leaders, teachers or parents. The rapid changes that followed within our society soon led to major conflicts and confrontations between the different communities, eventually resulting in an ethnic war that served no purpose.                                                                                        

But war is not the only factor that divides us. If our attitudes do not change, the colorful fabric that once wove us together will slowly perish and disappear forever. This will result in long lasting ill effects for our children”.

In order to reach out to a wider audience, the story has been translated into the Sinhala and Tamil languages, spoken by the majority of people. The book will be distributed free of charge to children’s groups, clubs and community centres across the island. Reading workshops will be conducted alongside when children will read from the book and discuss the story while conveying their perceptions on multi-culturalism.

Sri Lanka like most other Asian countries consider Health, Nutrition and Education as the more important areas for investing in children. Although these are certainly some of the most fundamental rights of children, we have to consider removing inequality, discrimination and prejudices as equally important if we are to let our children build trust and close the gaps.

Both The Sunshine Charity and Sarvodaya have worked independently towards creating equal, inclusive and a tolerant society where children of all cultural backgrounds can live without bias or prejudices. This time, ‘Investing in Children’ will bring the two organizations together to implement the project as a civil society initiative, which will encourage children to embrace multi-culturalism and celebrate the difference in diversity.

Sharing knowledge, expressing opinions, telling stories is not something practiced usually or used commonly as a form of communication. It can however, help and contribute immensely in the recovery and healing process to build mutual understanding. Talking to one another and expressing opinions in a group can enrich the thought-flow significantly among children and adults. In this project, facilitated by the children and supported by educationalist, children will be encouraged to express their sentiments, attitudes and views on how they perceive Sri Lanka’s multi-cultural heritage. The discussion will be open, enriching and stimulating, adopting a theme not often explained to children either at school or home. As a result, children grow up unaware of the multi-cultural history of the country. Misconceptions must be addressed early in a child’s life and this is what the project envisions.

The children attending The Sunshine Day Care Centre will participate in the island-wide initiative. The future is in their hands too. As they grow-up they could be the agents of change – at school and in their communities. The seed that was planted in their young minds will certainly contribute to creating equality, close the gaps and build mutual trust in their generation.

another page from the book
another page from the book
the story continues
the story continues
Sunshine Children enjoy picture telling
Sunshine Children enjoy picture telling
Together we shall learn
Together we shall learn
Learning to write
Learning to write
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Local Compassion for Sunshine Kids

-          providing access to sight and hearing examinations

by Sharadha de Saram – Project Leader

In-spite of the recent flash floods and landslides caused by heavy rains which displaced around six-hundred thousand people from their homes and killed more than one hundred people with many more still missing, we were able to travel to the east coast of the island, where the Sunshine Day Care Centre is located. A few days of good weather encouraged us to make the visit to update ourselves on the situation and the needs of the children. We were also able to conduct the planned eye and hearing test for the children. Qualified Optometrists and Audiologists examined the eyes and hearing of the twenty-seven Sunshine Children, (fewer due to the flooding) who attended the camp. Accompanied by mothers and one father, the consultants looked for early signs of eye diseases and the sensitivity of the child’s hearing. The eye examination and hearing screening were arranged and conducted by Vision Care Optical Services, Trincomalee.

The Sunshine Charity’s mission is to take care of vulnerable children at the Sunshine Day Care Centre in the Trincomalee District, by providing one nutritious meal, creative opportunities, space to interact with other children, learning material and trained staff members who understand the needs of the children. In addition, workshops and camps like the eye and hearing camp conducted, the children are also provided with pharmaceutical drugs and worming treatment, shoes to prevent worming infection and uniforms.

Working with vulnerable children we often ask ‘what makes our children vulnerable’? We are made to understand that vulnerability is all about self-protection. What does this then mean to us, is what we ask next. Resource centres working on policies relating to vulnerable children, say that children particularly between the ages of one to six are considered always vulnerable. Making this age group the Sunshine Day Care Centre’s primary target group we are glad that over the last ten years, we have addressed areas such as physical and mental disability, the child’s emotional and behavioral problems particularly passive, shy and withdrawn, powerlessness including being unable to defend themselves, and acute illnesses, which the resource centres have identified as among the most vulnerable characteristics of children.

In their report, Vision Care Optical Services were happy to share the good news that none of the twenty-seven children they examined had any eye problems. In-fact, the children, they said had six-six vision which means none of them need any spectacles. There were two children however who needed follow-up on their hearing disability which will be done at the Vision Care services centre in Trincomalee town.

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Inspirational Success Stories from Sri Lanka

by Sharadha de Saram – Project Leader

In-spite of its beautiful beaches, verdant forests, abundant foliage and fauna, fertile soil and a high literacy rate, there are pockets of areas on this resplendent island where communities live below the poverty line, where parents struggle daily to care for their children and where tragedies have affected them. The lives of some of these children would have looked very different if not for the facilities afforded to them at The Sunshine Day Care Centre, the only day care between a two-hundred mile stretch that provides the children space to enjoy enrichment programmes in art, music, song and educational skills among many other services.

During our most recent visit to conduct a medical, health and nutrition programme for the children, we wanted to learn for ourselves, how our programmes have impacted and how they have benefited our children since the organization established the day care over ten years ago. Some of the homes we visited opened our eyes to the issues and challenges these families face and encouraged us to strive harder to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children.

Kithushalini has been at the day care centre for just over a year. Prior to this, she attended the Government managed centre just across the street from her home. It was her two best friends, sisters Kavisha and Kavishalini who first told her about the Sunshine day care which they attend. “We enjoy playing games, singing and writing and have lots of fun,” they told her. Begging her parents to transfer her, Kithushalini soon found her way on the Sunshine bus – one of the biggest attractions to families. The Sunshine bus picks and drops the children from their homes thereby giving the much needed time to mothers to attend to their own work. Children love the ride.

Kithushalini’s father is an unskilled worker earning his living doing odd jobs in town. Along with his wife and four children they live at his mothers’ house built for tsunami survivors. The family saves on child care facilities and above all the glass of milk and lunch time meal which Kithushalini is provided.

With access to annual medical check-ups the provision of vitamin, iron and worming treatment, Kithushalini’s family is able to save a substantial amount. The health discussion for mothers inspires them to be more aware on nutritional needs of their children.

Lakshan was four years old when he joined the day care centre. Previously, Lakshan spent his time at home playing with the few broken toys he owned or helping his mother. He is the youngest of a family of five children, three of whom attend the local school and one, the eldest, a school drop-out. At the time of our visit we were able to meet only Ranjani, Lakshan’s mother and eldest sister, Lavinia. The temporary make-shift shelter where the family live was constructed illegally. The father, an alcoholic earns a paltry amount as a labourer with most of his earnings spent on alcohol. Thanks to Sunshine Charity’s local partner, the Grace Education Centre, Ranjani will be gifted a house very soon while Lavinia will work as a volunteer at the day care centre.

It is at medical clinics such as these that children like Lakshan and Kithushalini are able to know the status of their health. It is only here that mothers of the children receive guidance on the nutritional needs of their children, dental check-ups and advice on oral hygiene. More importantly, the participating doctors are from the district allowing the community to connect with them easily. Having made contact already, the doctors encouraged the mothers to visit them at their clinics for any follow-up treatment. It is only here that most children enjoy a glass of milk and a nutritious lunch time meal.

These are only some inspirational success stories which have effected change in the lives of children attending the Sunshine Day Care Centre.


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The story of Kalaivani

One example of a change story; a story about a child we have worked with in the past 22 months who has experienced positive change due to his or her participation in our programs

Kalaivani’s father had been killed by an elephant sometime back and her mother had died of cancer in 2014. It was a challenge for the staff at both Sunshine and our local partner, Grace Home to address Kalaivani’s psychological needs. Thanks to the numerous teacher training workshops conducted for the members of the staff which included counselling and understanding the psycho-social needs of children, they were better equipped with skills that helped them to understand Kalaivani.

Thanks to our international and local donors, children like Kalaivani can enjoy a nutritious meal at the centre, pharmaceutical drugs, vitamin and worming treatment, creative opportunities and interaction with other kids without staying home.

Kalaivani’s story is one of the many stories we have experienced. Founded in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami, the organization celebrates ten years of caring for children. For a small organization with no administrative costs, where the donor’s funds are utilized entirely to benefit vulnerable children, where all the trustees work on a voluntary basis and participating in the programmes implemented, the Sunshine Day Care Centre located in the small village of Sambalthivu, Trincomalee, Eastern Province of Sri Lanka is inspired to continue its work because small donations have contributed and helped change the life of children like Kalaivani.

 


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Organization Information

The Sunshine Charity

Location: Colombo 6 - Sri Lanka
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Sharadha de Saram
Colombo 6, Western Province Sri Lanka
$22,189 raised of $50,000 goal
 
339 donations
$27,811 to go
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