SRI LANKA: Vulnerable children receive support
Bosco Sevana Center provides nutrition, medical care and educational support
(MissionNewswire) Bosco Sevana Center, in Uswetakeiyawa, Sri Lanka, started more than 25 years ago as a rehabilitation center for sexually abused minors. Since then, the center has been converted into a children’s home where vulnerable children, such as street children or orphans, receive care and support to become responsible citizens.
Uswetakeiyawa is a small village located near Negombo, one of the country’s major commercial centers and home to a large bilingual (Sinhalese/Tamil) population with a majority of Catholics. Most of its population consists of very poor families who do seasonal work fishing in faraway places which requires them to leave their children.
These children, ages 7-16, often grow up on their own and face drug addiction and sexual abuse at an early age. As a result, the school dropout rate has risen alarmingly, exceeding 53 percent. The recent political crisis in the country has compounded an already dire situation.
Recently, the Salesian Mission Office in Turin, Italy, has launched a project to support the costs of running the center, which currently houses 30 children.
The multifaceted project aims to ensure that children receive healthy nutrition and good medical care, along with an education. Students can can attend the nearby state school and participate in evening educational support classes. A Salesian noted, “We want to give children the opportunity to continue growing up in a protected family environment, enjoying moments of sports and play like all children in the world.”
Salesian missionaries have been operating in Sri Lanka since 1956. In 1963, missionaries set up their first technical institute. Since then, they have established 17 more in locations across the country, as well as youth centers and other programs to help youth in need.
Sri Lanka suffered a long civil war that ended in 2009, two tsunamis in the past 13 years and a deadly dengue crisis. Nine out of 10 poor people in Sri Lanka live in rural areas, according to the World Bank. More than 40 percent of the country’s rural poor are small-scale farmers with farm production often hampered by neglect and low investment levels resulting from poor financial services and limited technology.
Sri Lankans are affected by a significant lack of infrastructure including roads, electricity, irrigation systems and communication channels. In several areas of the country, seven out of 10 people have no access to electricity and almost half of the population does not have access to safe drinking water. Malnutrition among children is also common.
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Salesian Missions – Sri Lanka
World Bank – Sri Lanka