Building communities with a world class concept

For children to have a healthy and enriching childhood, it is imperative to have a robust and strong family background. A family that has the capacity to provide basic needs and wants of a child ensures safety and security, thus enabling the child to grow up and reach his/her full potential. SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka understands this empirical reality; and has constructed a program that has a proven propensity to alleviate poor and impoverished families out of poverty, thus stabilizing them to create that ideal environment for children to grow up in – that is, in their own biological family, and away from child care institutions.

This is called ‘family strengthening program’. A five year process that uplifts families on the verge of breaking down due to various reasons such as poverty, family separation, psycho-social factors and other causes. By educating and equipping such families with relevant knowledge and skills, SOS helps them become financially independent and strong family who are able to take care of themselves and their children. This is done completely free of charge. The program is active in nine different locations in Sri Lanka. They are Piliyandala, Peraliya, Gandara, Galle, Monaragala, Nuwara Eliya, Anuradhapura, Mulathivu and Jaffna. Currently, there are 3500 poverty stricken families enrolled in this program from these areas. Locations are selected through an extensive, comprehensive and methodical feasibility survey carried out in collaboration with relevant Government authorities. Once the survey is completed and location decided, a package of facilities is designed which would be offered to families from the selected location. Basic facilities usually include services such as mid-day meals for children to enhance nutrition intake, extra coaching classes for children to improve in weak academic areas, counselling, awareness programs, prevention programs, annual medical check-ups, and child youth clubs etc. The number of facilities provided may vary depending on the requirements identified during the feasibility survey. An all-encompassing holistic approach is taken in the designing phase of this package, the facilities of which will bring the family out of poverty in order to be financially independent and self-sufficient.

As the primary focus is the well-being of children, all facilities are formulated with the fundamental objective of creating a long term care solution that will benefit the children within these families.
The family strengthening program assures that children from these families have access to basic and vital survival & development needs such as education, nutrition and psycho-social support that unequivocally improves their living conditions. It also helps them establish a self-identity for themselves.

The family strengthening program also contains a support facility that teaches self-employment skills to parents from these families in order to be self-sufficient and have the ability to take care of themselves in the long term with a stable source of income. Skills thought include, but are not limited to sewing, handloom making, fishkeeping for profit etc. Once the parents are thought such skills, they learn to utilize it and establish a source of income which helps in caring for their children.

Further, this program also emphasises on community development. It is important to put in place a system that will sustain all that has been thought via the family strengthening program and act as a support system even after completion of the five year program. Hence, families enrolled in the program are encouraged to build a network amongst themselves so they can self-organize and develop response systems to the needs of vulnerable children and families within their community. The family strengthening program helps in building this network.

The family strengthening program by SOS Children’s Villages Sri Lanka has been a success thus far. To date, 3342 families have successfully graduated through this program from nine different locations in Sri Lanka.

The family strengthening program is only a constituent of a plethora of projects carried out by SOS Children’s Villages to make Sri Lankan society a better place and provide a lending hand to children and families who have lost parental care. This organization has six children’s Villages in Sri Lanka through which they provide long term care for 960 children who have lost parental care, and vocational training centres that equip poverty stricken young adults with skills to find employment are some of their projects to mention a few. All of these social services are provided completely free of charge. An enormous challenge is faced by this organization after the World Bank categorized Sri Lanka as a middle income earning country. Funds from the international umbrella organization of SOS Children’s Villages International are being directed to poorer nations in Africa, and SOS Children’s Villages in Sri Lanka is expected to raise the required funds locally. Therefore, this organization is looking for support from local individuals, corporates, philanthropists and well-wishers to contribute in order so that SOS Children’s Villages can continue its journey in helping Sri Lankans in need. More information could be obtained by contacting the organization itself to learn about ways to help via 076 322 7422