Heavena is a refuge and transitional shelter for women and children who have suffered domestic violence and abuse. It is one of only three such shelters in the whole of Sri Lanka, and the only one which allows women to keep their children with them for more than a two-week emergency stay.
Heavena was established in 2003 by our partners in Sri Lanka. Global Care has been helping to fund Heavena since it opened.
What are the challenges?
Sri Lankan victims of domestic abuse are usually unable to leave their aggressors and return to their parental homes. Such women may be pregnant, or have children, and are desperate to keep their families together. However, they are often economically dependent on their abusers.
Support for women suffering domestic abuse is extremely limited. Police will often tell them to return to their abusers.
The Heavena Shelter has space for up to 15 women and 20 children at one time. Families can stay at Heavena for up to nine months, although with psychological help and skills training, most are ready to leave after six months.
Children staying at the shelter are able to go to school, and staff help them with homework if needed. They are also offered counselling to help them come to terms with the violence they have witnessed and often experienced.
When women leave, they are helped to find a job and somewhere to live, and provided with a small financial package to help them establish themselves outside Heavena. Families are referred to relevant services, and visited by Heavena staff to help them to settle. Women who have spent time at Heavena form an informal support network to help one another.