When *Hart was seven, her alcoholic father abandoned his family. Homeless and unable to support her five children on a housemaid’s wages, Hart’s mother appealed to the Sri Lankan authorities for help. The four youngest were sent to children’s homes. Hart and her older sister went to one home. Her two younger brothers went to another.
Almost immediately, Hart’s mother regretted her decision and began working to get them back. Despite her pitiful earnings, she saved as hard as she could. If only she could rent a room, the children could come home. When she visited the children she found they were desperately unhappy, and they all begged to return. But no matter how hard she worked, it was never enough.
Finally, in desperation, she borrowed from a loan shark and rented a one-roomed hut on the beach at Ratmalana. But the authorities didn’t want to release the children, as her economic situation was still far from stable. Undeterred, this tenacious mother never gave up. She contacted the police, filed a complaint and went to court to fight for the children to be returned.
She won! It was such a wonderful day when the family came back together again. But soon the realities of the situation began to sink in. Her financial difficulties – compounded by the loan – were overwhelming. Every day was an enormous struggle to survive. Educating the children, providing uniforms, school books and stationery, were at the bottom of her priority list, and the children stayed at home for more than 18 months.
Hart’s two older siblings had once been students at the Morning Star Care Centre, before going to state school, in the days before their father left. MSCC is funded by Global Care and operated by our long-standing Sri Lankan partners Community Concern. Out and about in the community, the MSCC field officer heard rumours that the family were back together again. Concerned for their wellbeing, she tried to trace them several times, but because they had relocated she couldn’t find them. Then, unexpectedly, one day while out on her field visits, she bumped into the children, and was able to get back in touch with their mum.
In October 2014, ten year-old Hart and her siblings joined MSCC. The Care Centre pays the train fare for all four siblings to come down the coast from Ratmalana, and provides them all with breakfast and lunch. It’s a weight off their mother’s shoulders. And it’s a potentially life-changing opportunity for Hart and her family.
When Hart joined MSCC her educational standard was very low, but she has been catching up fast. Now 13, she is on a par academically with other students her age, and she is also learning vocational skills which will help her in the future, including cooking and sewing. She is a member of the school band and plays the melodica. Our partners describe her as “responsible with leadership qualities”. Her future looks so much brighter now.
Hundreds of children like Hart have passed through the Morning Star Care Centre in the last 20 years. We thank God for the opportunity to support and care for every one of them.
*child’s name changed to protect their identity