Children Empowerment Centers
Arigatou International—End Child Poverty (End Child Poverty) partners with organisations to establish children empowerment centres, as safe spaces to secure children’s dignity and wellbeing, through non-formal and informal education. The Children Empowerment Centres aim to benefit children living in poverty or affected by poverty, and all children in society, by providing points of access to essential services for children. These community-level centers make use of locally available resources and knowledge.
In Sri Lanka, End Child Poverty collaborates with the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement to support the Meethotamulla Children’s Empowerment Centre.
Similarly, End Child Poverty supported the work of I CAN Malaysia to provide non-formal education at the Darul eslah Academy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
In Sri Lanka, the Meethotamulla Children’s Empowerment Centre serves children, their families and wider community in the area of Meethotamulla, which initially started as an urban slum settlement, with an estimated 200 children from 140 households. The particular area had a massive, open dumping ground, which affected the overall safety health of the residents. The collapse of the garbage dump in 2017, destroyed houses and devastated the lives of the residents. During the rainy season, children were unable to access the schools around them, due to flooding. Drug use and violence was also rampant in the area. These factors, coupled with other forms of poverty, negatively affected the children. It was in response to these challenges that the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement (Sarvodaya) and Arigatou International – jointly through our End Child Poverty Knowledge Centre – sought to establish the Meethotamulla Children’s Empowerment Centre, led by the community members.
As part of this process, the Sarvodaya Institute of Higher Learning (SIHL) and the End Child Poverty Knowledge Centre, partnered with the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA) in Colombo, Sri Lanka, to carry out a baseline household survey and spatial mapping of the Meethotamulla settlement, in 2018/2019. Through this, we gathered evidence of the nature, scope and adaptable good practices to address child poverty in the area. The information from this survey further informed the development and implementation of the educational and life skills activities for the Children’s Empowerment Centre. In addition, the survey captured both quantitative data and qualitative data on the context of urban poverty in Sri Lanka, focusing on the various dimensions of poverty, and especially child poverty.
The Meethotamulla Children’s Empowerment Centre was established by the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement (Sarvodaya), in collaboration with End Child Poverty, and launched on 10th December 2018. Today, through resettlement programmes by the government of Sri Lanka, the residents of the slum were relocated to different housing areas. The children continue to use and benefit from the Children’s Empowerment Centre. Children have received classes in Sinhala, Tamil, English languages, as well as Science and Mathematics, led by volunteers from Sarvodaya and the local community. In addition, the children were supported to participate in extracurricular activities, including life-skills coaching, drama and storytelling. Our aim is to sustain support until children complete their secondary school education.
In Malaysia, I CAN Malaysia, with support from End Child Poverty, provides safe learning spaces for Rohingya children living as refugees in Kuala Lumpur. The Rohingya people that have faced decades of harsh treatment in Myanmar, as a persecuted minority community. To escape from this severe repression, a number of Rohingya and their children flee to Malaysia. Moreover, the children face the threats of child marriage, child labour, and lack of access to quality and relevant education, due to poverty.
I CAN Malaysia therefore established a community learning center – the Darul eslah Academy – that provides basic nutrition, non-formal and social skills education to the children living as refugees; as well as volunteer opportunities for university students and other members of the community. Further, I CAN Malaysia, collaborates with several Madrassas to provide psycho-social support to the children, in addition to religious education and nurturing spirituality and positive values.
As a result, children participate in various activities and classes, led by volunteer teachers supported and trained by I CAN Malaysia. These include sports activities and lessons in Science, Geography, Arts and Crafting, English, Mathematics, Health and Hygiene, and general life skills. During the Ramadhan period, I CAN Malaysia also organizes community donations to be able to provide basic foodstuff and other necessary items to the children and their families. As a result, the children are gaining a better sense of self-worth, and practical knowledge and fostered greater cohesion, and this positive impact spreads to their families and the wider community too.
“We found this interaction with children as an acknowledgment to the children’s voice, which may pave the way for active advocacy and influence on local policies.” – volunteer from I CAN Malaysia
The “I Can” chapter of I CAN Malaysia started with a project named “I Can Feed the Poor”, initiated by the students of International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). Through this project, students aimed to serve people living in extreme poverty, through providing basic nutrition. Their current work accomplished through the Darul eslah Academy is part of their ” I Can Teach” program response. Primarily, I CAN Malaysia’s main driving force is to build the capacities of students who volunteer on a regular basis, and since October 2012, ICAN Malaysia has received tremendous support from people of faith as well as other stakeholders of the society, especially students.
Talk to us about initiating a new, or strengthening an existing Children’s Empowerment Centre in your community. We would be glad to hear from you and explore a potential partnership.
Contact us to express your interest in the partnership.
We also welcome you to consider contributing financially, towards supporting our work with Sarvodaya, I CAN Malaysia, and other key institutions that provide education support to empower children affected by poverty. Consider donating today and Inviting your friends and community to give as well.
Do you know of other faith-inspired organizations doing similar work to empower at the community level? We are always happy to feature such stories, to inspire positive action.
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