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“I’m Father Sriyananda Fernando, parish priest of St.Mary’s Church.
Thanks to our previous parish priest Rev. Father Leslie Fernando, in 2002 our parish founded the “Community Learning Center”, a non-formal education institute that gives education to street children, school dropouts, special needs students and elderly people.
In Negombo there are many children who live out in the streets, alone and uncared for. Sometimes they don’t even have permanent houses, and if they do, they live in huts with their parents who are usually not much educated. These children obviously don’t go to school.
Street children are left alone to fend off for themselves, left at the mercy of wrongdoers who take advantage of them and use them for illegal activities such as carrying drugs. Unfortunately, some of these children end up using drugs and become addicts.
Our goal is to give these children a good education so they can live up to a certain life standard.
We teach regular school subjects and give the children real life lessons. We feel like a “life education institute”.
Teaching in this institute isn’t easy because nothing is systematic, especially since street children are not used to environments that have rules and require discipline. It’s a job that poses lots of challenges and problems. Children should come here of their own accord, but sometimes we have to go out in the streets and look for them.
Some of the teachers are paid by the government while others get a small salary, but they get so little money that they’re more or less like volunteers.
We teach the children to read and write the Tamil language and English, computer science, and many other creative activities such as fabric painting, knitting, sewing, and candle making. All of the objects that the children make are sold to buy food and school supplies.
In our small kitchen, we prepare food for around 35 children every day. We can do that thanks to small food donations and things we buy from the local market with the money we get from selling our handmade products.
The institute is open from 8am to 5pm.
As a church, we try to help the children through the small donations we receive, but the money we get is not enough to meet all of their needs.”
“I’m Suleiman Jarad and I was born in Dana. The village of Dana was built in the Wadi Dana about 500 years ago by 50 families coming from Palestine. The houses were built with stones and juniper tree.The village served as shelter during the cold winter months. In the summer, the families walked down to the greenest part of the valley and lived there in Bedouin tents …
“I’m Petit-Compère, principal of the Bon Berger Orphanage in Haiti, founded in 1966. When Jean-Bertrand Aristide was President we had everything: mattresses, beds, food, clothes, books; but when President Aristide was forced to leave the country everything changed for us. Armed men came into our orphanage and took everything we had. Now our rooms are pretty …
“I’m Patrick Ersig, and I’m part of the Jonah Project. We are in downtown Los Angeles, in the loft district of Skid Row, home to over 10.000 homeless people. The Jonah Project aims at empowering people to make positive changes in their lives. The place is designed to look like a home, with carpets, nice tables, and couches that give the idea of small living …
“Our association has been serving the poor, the lost, and the homeless in New York City for over 130 years. We serve about 700-800 people every day, and we have volunteers coming from all over the world.I came here 20 years ago looking for help and I found it.Our many programs are very extensive. The one on the Upper East Side is dedicated to help women who are …
“One of our activities is called 'circle time', in which children tell their stories. Child abuse is a great problem in this country. We have a garden where we grow our own vegetables, some of which are sold to buy corn. We also teach the children how to recycle properly. We have about six-seven improvised classrooms where we teach the children to sing, play …
“My name is Paulo, I was born in the Kilimanjaro region. My parents argued a lot, so my mom went away and brought me along. We didn't have any money, so I hunted birds and we ate those. I went back to my father but he had drinking problems, so I left him again and started stealing. Now I live with my aunt...” Elize: “Everybody here has invested so much time, …
“Every morning some of these children need to walk for 7 kilometers to get to school, and seven to go home, so we decided to build a school in the middle of the community. There will be two classrooms, two toilets, one office, and a house for the teacher. Each classroom will contain 45 children. People here are very thankful for the contribution of tourists to …
“I was born in Scotland, but I spent most of my life in Australia and in the Pacific Islands, working for the indigenous people in Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu. I teach boys how to build houses, boats, and furniture. We don't have electricity, so we do everything by hand: mixing cement, making blocks, and we depend on rain water to make concrete. Our main …
“We provide free education for our community: English literacy, environmental education, primary health. Most of the children are very poor and they don't have the opportunity to study at a governmental school. We are able to work thanks to our volunteers, who earn only 5 USD a month. There is no electricity and we don't have a generator, so from August to …
“It's time for lunch at the Khan Khang Orphanage, a big small lunch. It's like a “party”. The children come out to eat in their cafeteria, which actually consists of a small space under a canopy. The stove is not really a stove, it's a cauldron similar to those of witches, with a wood fire underneath.Lunch is ready. The janitor comes out with cauldrons of rice. …
When travelling you occasionally meet people who are vulnerable, who live in difficult conditions, supported by organisations that work away in the shadows: schools, orphanages, hospitals that fight hunger, disease and war, day in, day out.
This has happened to us often, and we’ve given a helping hand by organising collections before our departure: an experience that has coloured our travels with humanity.
These are the situations we’ve encountered and the associations we’ve helped: making them known is our way of giving a small – yet we hope important – contribution.
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