In the central highlands of Sri Lanka is Nuwara Eliya, at an altitude of nearly 2,000 metres above sea level. As an important tea-growing region, many work on the lush green tea estates.
Nuwara Eliya is distinct in that it is the only district in the country where the majority of the population are Indian Tamils, and just 40% are Sinhalese.
A traumatic past
For 26 years, a violent civil conflict displaced almost 400,000 people in Sri Lanka. The death toll is disputed, but thought to be in the tens of thousands. Since the conflict ended in 2009, people have begun to return to their home region. However, rebuilding life is incredibly difficult. During the conflict, infrastructure and services were destroyed, and land-mines remain hidden in several areas. Therefore, reintegration of internally displaced people requires a lot of work, time and effort from NGOs and governmental organisations.
North Sri Lanka was very hard hit by the violence which destabilised Sri Lanka for decades. Thousands moved south to find refuge in camps for the internally displaced. SOS Children set up temporary projects to care for children who had arrived in the camps without any adults caring for them. They may have been orphaned due to the conflict, or separated from their families in the chaos and confusion. Medical and psychological treatment were provided for children, and we tried our best to reunite lone children with their families.
How we help families in Nuwara Eliya today
Vulnerable families living in Nuwara Eliya are offered support via a range of services. Children are provided with basic nutrition, health services and education. Parents are helped to learn income-generating skills and given assistance to get micro-loans. At our social centre we provide essential medical treatment, counselling and psychological support to families in need.
A new family for children with no-one
Since 1984, children in Nuwara Eliya who can no longer live with their family can find a loving home in our Children's Village. Life in an SOS family gives lone children the love, security and support they need to have a happy and healthy childhood. In each family, an SOS Mother cares for a group of children and they live together as a family.
When young, children go to the SOS nursery, and make friends with children from the local community. After nursery, they attend local schools together to receive a good education.
Older children who feel ready to move on from their SOS family can join our youth programme. Here they live in shared houses, while being supervised and guided by a qualified SOS counsellor. They are supported to make steps towards independent life while they complete higher education or vocational training.
Next to the Children's Village in Nuwara Eliya, there is a home for SOS mothers who have retired.
With you help, more children in Nuwara Eliya can be supported to overcome a troubled past and regain a happy childhood. Will you sponsor a child today?