Monaragala is the primary city in the district of the same name, which lies in Uva province in Sri Lanka's south-east. Beyond the city, the region is predominantly rural and very isolated.
Communities here lack infrastructure and services, which leaves families with little support and vulnerable to poverty, a major cause of child abandonment.
A population at risk
Most people in Monaragala district rely on agriculture for their livelihood, cultivating crops such as grains, vegetables and legumes using slash and burn methods. There is a great spirit of camaraderie between farmers, and neighbouring families help each other out in the fields.
This reliance on agriculture leaves people vulnerable to the climate, and poor harvests can devastate families living on the breadline. Many people do not own the land they farm, and their rental obligations leave them open to further deprivation during times of hardship.
Children at risk of child abandonment, disease and poor life chances
Poverty is the biggest cause of child abandonment. During times of financial pressure, some families feel they simply cannot afford to provide adequate care for their children, and are forced to abandon them.
Even during good times, services such as schools and hospitals are limited in the isolated rural parts of the district. When children go without education, they lack the tools to escape the cycle of poverty by progressing to more reliable forms of employment. Without medical care, their health is seriously enadangered, leading to malnutrition, stunting and disease during their most vulnerable years, often with long-term effects.
How we help in Monaragala
We came to Monaragala in 2000, and work to support fragile families and provide a loving home for children who cannot live with their patents. In 2004, we provided shelter and relief in the wake of the devastating Asian tsunami.
Building a strong community and providing essential services
Our key aim to enable families to care for their own children. We work with local authorities and agencies to provide much-needed medical care to keep children healthy during the critical early years. We work with families individually; offering tailored support to help them tackle their own unique problems.
We are also building facilities for families living in isolated rural communities, so that they have the services they need right on their doorsteps. Through our mother's club and craft classes, we help families exchange ideas and discover new ways of improving their income.
Providing homes for children with no one else
Some children cannot live with their own families, either because their parents have died or because, despite support, they cannot afford to look after them. When this happens, we welcome the child into an SOS family, where they are looked after by an SOS mother. We provide all the support they need to flourish as they progress through childhood, from a good education to a happy, nurturing environment.
When they leave school, we help them develop through skills training at our SOS vocational training centre. Our tutors offer courses in craftsmanship, electrical engineering and plumbing, as well as office-based skills such as IT. We are currently able to support up to 150 trainees.
Often growing up in poverty and with limited opportunities for education, many children in Monaragala face a tough childhood. We help families overcome difficult circumstances so children can enjoy the best start in life. You can help by sponsoring a child.