In a country of over 20 million people, nearly one million Sri Lankan children aged five to 17 are exploited for child labour. One of the most powerful tools to prevent child labour is education. Education inspires people to strive to reach higher. It takes children off the streets and, crucially, it helps parents gain employment – reducing the need to have their children enter the workforce.
Equipping young people with the right skills for employment benefits not only them, but also their future children.
The SOS Vocational Training Centres in Sri Lanka and around the world provide technical training to disadvantaged and vulnerable young people to enhance their self-confidence and develop their interest in education and training. The centres offer young people the chance to achieve a certificate in wide range of in-demand programmes such as masonry, plumbing, woodwork, culinary arts, mixed farming and industrial painting.
Similarly, our Family Strengthening Programmes provide support to care-givers who do not provide a safe, secure environment for their children and who may be at immediate risk of abandoning their children. We help them to find legal work, gain a better understanding of managing a household budget and key parenting skills.
Ramani’s storyRamani lives with her husband and her two children in Piliyandala, Sri Lanka. Having grown up in poverty it was extremely difficult for Ramani to break the cycle of poverty for her family. Her husband worked odd jobs which provided enough for the family to survive. But, Ramnai wanted more for her children.
“I wanted to increase my family’s income; send my children to a decent school; buy books for them. I just wanted a decent living standard for my children,” says Ramani.
So, Ramani started to sell small food items at her local market, giving her extra income to purchase adequate vegetables, milk and rice for her family. In 2010, Ramani and her family joined our Family Strengthening Programme in Philiyandal. The programme has been operating since 2002 and benefits nearly 300 families.
Under the programme, Ramani received training on entrepreneurship and financial management. Thanks to the Family Strengthening Programme, Ramani opened her own business: packing and selling spices and catering for functions. Her income has provided her family with a decent toilet and furniture for their home.
“SOS has helped in so many ways. My two sons, aged 15 and 18, were able to continue their education without any trouble,” says Ramani. “And, the financial management course taught me how to utilise my money and save for my children.”