On the evening of Sinhala and Hindu New Year April 2014, it was a festive day for all Sri Lankans. The garbage dump collapsed in Meethotamulla, Kolonnawa., claiming 38 lives and 180 families were displaced and the affected provided with temporary shelter in Kolonnawa and nearby community centers.
The affected families were relocated into a housing scheme named “Sanhida Sewana” in Kolonnawa area. Most of the families had low-income levels and most families live in poverty. After the garbage collapse, the children’s lives in Meethotamulla became more challenging.
Perturbed by the conditions of these children especially the challenge with them receiving education, Arigatou International – End Child Poverty in collaboration with the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement established an education center (also Children’s Empowerment Centre) in December 2018 during the “End Child Poverty and the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) Southeast Asia Regional Meetings” in Sri Lanka.
Since inception, this center has been providing coaching classes for all children. There has been growth in the number of children that join these classes and some parents have noticed an improvement in their children’s grades. Today, 50 Children attend coaching classes, and 4 voluntary teachers attend two days a week to teach these children. Subjects such as Mathematics, Sinhala, Tamil, English language and general knowledge classes are taught. As a result of the classes offered at the Centre, children from Meethotamulla have been passing their grade 5 exams and have gone to better schools within the district. Further, many students have passed the ordinary level exams and most of them have been selected to technical colleges.
The Children empowerment center will further support children until they complete their secondary education and will provide knowledge to children on essential life skills such as leadership skills, communication skills and critical thinking. There was established need to also teach the children some ethics education The voluntary teachers who visit for coaching classes also cover this kind of lesson for children’s well-being.
On January 21st, 2023, the End Child poverty Knowledge Center organized a small event and visited the center with voluntary teachers. The day was planned with fun-based activities, and storytelling to motivate children and let them understand the value of education. At the end of the session, stationaries were distributed among the children as an appreciation for receiving good marks in the school term exam last year and for continuously joining the classroom, In Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, exercise books and other stationery items price hiked, and these parents couldn’t afford them. The End child poverty Knowledge center is planning to establish a library for the children to borrow books weekly basis so it’ll not only help to improve their reading skills but will also let them see the world and understand the values that they should include in their lives. A change in a single child can lead to a change in many children.