Over 25 years of civil war finally ended in 2009. The conflict affected the population, economy and the environment. With continuing calls for war atrocities to be investigated, the country faces continued challenges.
Tourists see one side of Sri Lanka – the 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, prevalent alcoholism and domestic violence and children who are vulnerable to foreign ‘sex tourists’. Sri Lanka has an estimated 40,000 child prostitutes. (UNICEF 2006)
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.
Our partners, Community Concern, started a school for these children. 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 supporting the education of very poor children.
Our children receive basic education, vocational training, counselling, medical and social care and some extra feeding.
Following the Asian Tsunami of Boxing Day 2004, the beach slums of Dehiwela beach were flattened but thankfully no-one from our school died. However, most 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 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