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 and the surrounding areas, that living is mainly fishing, the area being famous for its technique of stilt fishing (casting lines out while balancing on a 20-50 metre pole).
We are working with Lily's Pre-School, a dedicated learning centre, in Walliwala, close to Weligama, with its first classroom area now being used by a small group of young students, although significantly hampered by the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 lockdowns. Eventually 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 environment that will include an adventure playground to develop gross motor and minor motor skills. The learning centre will promote the learning of the English language by face to face and on-line classes as this as an important route out of poverty.
We support a growing number of families by providing monthly food, milk and vitamins and other essential items and ensure the children are able to attend classes and have the resources they need. A future intended project is to reach out to the most needy pregnant young women to include them in the first 1,000 days of life project, supporting their nutrition, healthcare and education and protection for them and their infants.
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