Since 2006, the Senehasa Sponsorship Programme has been helping children in the schools we rebuilt after the Tsunami.
How the Senehasa Sponsorship Programme changes lives
Many children live in poverty in Sri Lanka and this was made worse by the 2004 Tsunami. Through our work following the Tsunami with four schools in the Galle District we have seen just how disadvantaged these children are. Many lost a parent. Many struggle to afford school books, uniforms and tuition.
Set up in 2006, the Senehasa Sponsorship Programme has been helping the very poorest children come to school for over a decade now and has had a huge impact:
Daily attendance is up and they are happier at school
Children are more involved in school activities
The health of the children has improved
Exam results are significantly better
The children are more confident and believe in themselves
This is exactly how it has happened for Samuditha an 11 year old boy. He scored 180, the highest mark in the school, in the national scholarship exams. He now has the choice of the best schools to complete his education. The Senehasa sponsorship helped him to achieve this.
Senehasa recently set up the Sponsorship Programme in a fifth school, Mallalgoda.
How sponsored children are selected
The names of the children are put forward by the the Principals and Senehasa volunteers visit their homes to decide if they need help with the costs of their education.
Here is an account of one such visit:
“After negotiating with a particularly difficult rabbit warren of paths, we came to what was easily one of the smallest houses we’d visited. Out walked an immediately recognisable face, one that instantly burst into a gigantic but bashful grin when she saw us approaching her house.
Anuthara, a 14 year old, is a Grade 9 prefect, and one of the most enthusiastic, outgoing people in the school. We had first noticed her when we were taking afterschool netball classes, as she was one of the only girls who would happily take on the boys! Her English was very good, and she was clearly ambitious; nothing giving any indication of such a basic home life. We had, wrongly, assumed that with such apparent energy, and such a permanent grin, her circumstances would be better outside school. Nobody knew where her father was, and her mother relied on sporadic daily help from neighbours for all food and essentials.
Despite this situation, and despite her house being a single, barely partitioned room, she showed us around with absolute pride. Everything they owned was on display and there was absolutely nothing wasted. How did she manage to appear at school as she did when she was coming from such a difficult home life?
Anuthara told us that she wanted to be a nurse. However, she then explained that she might be forced to stop attending school to try to earn income for the family instead. This is a widespread problem. A child will drop out of school to earn money for their family; but in doing so abandons any hope of actually ever being able to earn enough to lift their family out of the setting that has caused the problem. We met many families, stuck in this seemingly endless rut.
But having seen it first hand, we saw all too clearly that if that child didn’t leave school to support their family, they would literally have nothing to eat. So this is why a lifeline, direct support, something taking the pressure off the child and allowing them to attend school is the only way that this perpetual loop can be broken, giving the child the opportunity to make that leap.
Senehasa now provide Anuthara with uniform, shoes, books, stationery, food and pay for her tuition. With this direct help, one day, she just might make it.
How we give a child a better education
We are now sponsoring over 100 children at five schools but there is a long list of those who desperately need help.
For just £5 a month, we can provide:
Two uniforms, underwear and shoes
Books and stationery
Toothbrushes, toothpaste and an umbrella
Tuition and a small savings account
Sponsorship will help children remain in full-time education and make the most of the learning opportunities available to them. They have aspirations to change their lives. Education is critical for these children to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.
Here are some stories of the children we have helped over the years.
Gishani is 7 years old and lives with her parents, both of whom are deaf. Her sister is in Colombo in a special “school” for deaf and dumb children. They were nearly washed away by the Tsunami and lost their home. They live in a wooden shack in a camp with only 3 toilets. Gishani wants to become an English teacher when she grows up.
Sumith is 12 years old and lost his baby brother in the Tsunami. Their house by the sea was washed away and they live in a wooden shack. He likes school and is very keen to study so that perhaps one day he can be a doctor.
Roshini, aged 15, now lives with her brother at her grandmother’s house after her home was washed away. Her mother died and her father has left the family. Her favourite subject is maths and she likes to play netball. She would like to be dance teacher.