Whilst Sri Lanka has made significant economic gains since the end of the civil war, the country and its people still face significant challenges including poverty, poor quality education and inequality. Children from disadvantaged families often struggle with mainstream educational system because of their ‘class’ difference, no birth certificate, behavioural problems or lack of parental interest. These children are at particular risk of being separated from their families and placed into residential care.
HelpKids aims to uphold the rights of vulnerable children in Sri Lanka by keeping children in families and providing them access to education.
The HelpKids centre provides early education and tuition classes to children from vulnerable families. Their mission is to focus on the whole child by providing a secure, nurturing, and educational environment for children.
HelpKids provide early education at their Montessori (preschool) for disadvantaged children aged 2-5 years. The Past Pupils Program aims to encourage the children to complete their schooling until grade 12. They support them to achieve this by providing additional tuition classes and maintaining good relationships with their whole family. Each child in the HelpKids program receives assistance with their education, nutritious food, and medical care when necessary.
HelpKids also works to strengthen and preserve the families of these children as they believe that it is by working with the family and making the family unit function as a whole that will most benefit the children long term. HelpKids staff build strong relationships with parents and support, educate and encourage families as they face the challenges of poverty. Children need a loving, caring and secure home, it is HelpKids aim not to provide it, but to ensure and facilitate it.
HelpKids aims to:
• Decrease the risk of family separation and the institutionalisation of children
• Strengthen and preserve families by providing family case management and community based services
• Improve the educational outcomes of vulnerable children by providing access to early education and tuition classes
• Strengthen community based child protection mechanisms through womens and children’s clubs and training for community leaders
Case Study: Hesanya
Hesanya is 5 years old. She came to The HelpKids Centre a little over a year and a half ago with her mother who is a single mum. Hesanya was enrolled into the Nursery Class in the Montessori School and into the day care program which allowed her mother to work five days a week. Hesanya loved playing and learning. She was like a little sponge absorbing everything around her not wanting to miss out on any little details.
This year in December she will graduate from the HelpKids Kindergarten class into grade 1. Her mother commented about how at her interview in a local public school for grade 1, the principal commented on how cheerful, bright and clever Hesanya was compared to the other children being enrolled. She said that she has seen Hesanya bloom into a loving and caring child and has seen how happy and content she is even though she doesn’t have everything that others her age may have.
Being a single mother, her responsibility to be provider and carer has been met with many challenges and struggles. But the HelpKids centre has been able to come along side her and offer her support in providing quality early education, and a safe environment for Hesanya so that her mother is able to work. The emotional support the centre has offered her has helped her to talk about her daily struggles and see that there is hope for a better future for her and her children.
Media link: https://vimeo.com/119406424