Tourists see one side of Sri Lanka – sun-drenched beaches and luxury hotels. But just along Dehiwela beach is another world. This beach slum is full of squalid, ramshackle huts. High unemployment, frequent alcoholism and domestic violence, and children who are vulnerable to foreign ‘sex tourists’.
When seven-year-old *Hart’s alcoholic father abandoned his family, her mother had little choice but to put her and three of her sibilings into a children’s home, where they were bitterly unhappy. Their mother worked hard to save until she could afford to bring her children home – but with the daily battle for survival, education was no-one’s priority. Our partners heard about the family coming back together, and invited Hart and one of her siblings to learn at MSCC. They have their train fare paid, and they get breakfast and lunch – a huge weight off their mother’s shoulders. Hart is now 13, and has caught up with her peers despite nearly two years of lost education. Her future is looking so much brighter.
What are the challenges?
Acute poverty, domestic violence, sex tourism. Living a hand-to-mouth existence such as this, little value is attached to gaining an education. Yet we know that education for Sri Lanka’s poorest children is the best way to lift them out of poverty.
What is Global Care doing about poverty in Sri Lanka?
Our local partners, Community Concern, started a school for the children of Dehiwela beach slum. Pupils stayed for two or three years before filtering into mainstream schools – opening up places for more deprived children. We helped to establish Morning Star Care Centre, providing education for very poor children, and have supported this initiative for more than 20 years, helping thousands of children in poverty access education in Sri Lanka, and build a brighter future..
Our children receive basic education, vocational training, counselling, medical and social care and some extra feeding. The centre also offers vital homework support and extra tuition to local children attending government schools, who often have nowhere to study and limited parental support.
Following the Asian Tsunami of Boxing Day 2004, the beach slums of Dehiwela were flattened but thankfully no-one died. However, families lost everything. We committed ourselves to the resettlement of this stricken community and delivered a housing development in early 2008. Our partners delivered 500 quality homes – over half the post-tsunami housing in Colombo district.
However new families soon moved onto the beach, re-populating the beach slum. Today the Morning Star Care Centre continues to support disadvantaged children in Dehiwela, Sri Lanka, with education, vocational training and welfare care.
We also support initiatives by our partners to care for women and children who have suffered domestic violence and abuse, and children and families living with HIV/AIDS.
What can you do to help?
Why not sponsor a child at the Morning Star Care Centre? Our partners have seen the significance of sponsorship for many children over the years, with the education that sponsorship enables releasing them from the poverty cycle. £25 a month gives a child all they need to enable them to learn and succeed – and not just for themselves. Their whole family benefits, and in turn the future of their community is transformed.
You can also become a partner with Morning Star. By supporting the centre, you’ll be building into the work they are doing amongst the poorest children in Sri Lanka. You’ll enable them to keep delivering excellent education and welfare care in a healthy, supportive environment. Regular gifts from £18 per month give the Morning Star team the stability they need to continue investing in this community.