For over 30 years, SOS Children has supported families in Sri Lanka during civil conflict and natural disasters. Our Children's Village Piliyandala is close to Colombo in Sri Lanka's Western province.
Colombo district is the smallest in the country, but also the most densely populated with over 2.3 million living there.
Peace restoring, but inequality increasing
In 2008, 26 people were killed and 64 injured when the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam bombed a commuter bus in Piliyandala. The bombing was shocked the area, especially as it was usually a peaceful place.
During Sri Lanka’s civil war, thousands of children were recruited by the Tamil rebels to fight, and many more were caught up in the conflict and experienced horrific suffering. Sri Lanka has been removed from the United Nations Secretary-General’s “List of Shame” - a list of countries where children are active in armed conflict - and the situation in Sri Lanka had now stabilised. However, families continue to be vulnerable, and live with the trauma from the terrible events they witnessed.
In recent years, living standards in Colombo District have improved – but other social problems have emerged. Life is very unequal amongst Sri Lankan society. The growing inequality is demonstrated by the increasing Gini coefficient, which measures household income equality.Colombo District has the highest number of internal migrants, as many move there from other parts of Sri Lanka to find better opportunities. However, new migrants often end up living in the city’s slums.
Holistic support to vulnerable families
Our social centre in Piliyandala offers local families the support they need so that their children grow up in a caring and stable home. Through a range of services, we reach around 7,000 people.
We provide children with basic nutrition, health services and education. So that parents can become financially independent, we run income-generating projects and vocational training. For example, women are offered craft classes and helped to receive micro-loans. Medical treatment is offered to the nearby community by the SOS medical centres. Other initiatives include parenting workshops that focus on children's physical and mental health, and a reproductive health service for young people.
How we help in Piliyandala in Colombo District
When a child can no longer live with their family, they can find a loving home in our Children's Village. Here they live in an SOS family along with their SOS brothers and sisters. Together they are cared for by an SOS mother. Young children go to the SOS nursery together with local children. As they progress, they attend the SOS primary and secondary schools in Piliyandala along with young people from the community. Up to 850 pupils receive a quality education at our schools, making them an important resource in the area.
As children reach their teenage years, they usually move to the our youth programme. Here they are supported to complete higher education or vocational training. They live in a shared houses while being supervised and guided by a qualified SOS counsellor. Increasingly, the young people are encouraged to make decisions about their future. At Piliyandala, there are workshops for woodwork, metalwork, welding and electronics. Furthermore, our vocational training centre trains future SOS mothers, and there is a special home for retired SOS mothers.
Since 1981, we have helped vulnerable children in Piliyandala, Colombo, to grow up into confident and skilled young adults. Will you sponsor a child today, and be part of their journey?