Project 1 - Early Learning Centre, Sri Lanka
Weligama is a town on the south coast of Sri Lanka in the Southern Province where the main income for its population is tourism and fishing. The area was significantly affected by the tsunami in 2004 with almost 500 deaths and 2,200 houses damaged or washed away.
Nine out of ten people facing poverty in Sri Lanka live in rural areas. Many who live in poverty have no means of escaping it or helping their children to do so and as it is very difficult for the poorest people to save money and protect themselves from shocks like illness or death, the cycle continues.
Education is free for children from five years old but the expense of uniforms, books, materials, shoes and transport to and from school often means that many children do not attend regularly and if they do they are often taken out of formal education at an early age to help their families make a living. In Weligama that living is mainly fishing, the area being famous for its technique of stilt fishing (casting their lines out while balancing on a 20-50 metre pole).
We have established a dedicated learning centre with its first classroom area now being used by our first young students, despite the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 lockdowns. Eventually we see that this centre will serve as a place for pre-school learning for the under fives, after-school study, to act as a community centre where support and guidance can be provided and a place where information can be shared.
It is a place for young children to be stimulated by the adventure playground that will be built this summer, developing gross motor and minor motor skills. We also plan to promote the learning of the English language by innovative computer-aided methods as we see this as an important route out of poverty.
We are also planning to reach out to the most needy pregnant women to include them in the first 1,000 days of life project, supporting their nutrition, healthcare, education and protection for them and their children.
Thank you for your support!