Children in Sri Lanka

An estimated 900,000 Sri Lankan children aged five to 17 are exploited for child labour. Many do so to support their parents. A large number are never able to attend school.

One in 10 of these children works in dangerous and deeply unpleasant conditions. Many work in mines, with toxic chemicals or dangerous machinery.

During the civil war, many young boys were recruited for combat in certain areas of the country.

340,000 grow up without one or both parents. Many children are forced to head the household, while the absence of a mother renders others vulnerable to sexual abuse.

Infant mortality is double that of the UK.

2009 brought an end to over two-and-a-half decades of civil war. However, years of violence had left deep scars on Sri Lankan society, with tens of thousands of people displaced from their homes. Although poverty and inequality has declined since the end of the war, particularly in rural parts, recent figures suggest that 6.7% of people live below the poverty line. Health is a particular area of concern, with a high risk of major infection, and under-5 malnutrition at over 26.3%.

Our Children's Villages in Sri Lanka

In six locations across Sri Lanka, we provide vulnerable children with a new mother, a family and a home where they can stay until they are ready for independent life. We also provide education for children from the local community in SOS Schools, as well as skills training to equip young people for a successful career.

We have worked in Sri Lanka since 1980, and when disaster strikes, our long-term presence in the country means that we are well-placed to deliver effective and long-lasting relief to the hardest hit communities. In 2013, we opened a Children’s Village in the important northern city of Jaffna for children left alone by the war.

Over 800 people from the local community are part of the Family Strengthening Programme in Piliyandalawhich offers classes in cooking, sewing and English, and provides dental and benefit from the SOS medical facilities. SOS mothers and staff also receive continual training at the SOS Vocational Training Centre in the Village.

A Family Strengthening Programme in Nuwara Eliya provides health care for local people and runs programmes to improve standards of nutrition, health and education. About 28 miles south of Nuwara Eliya, a hill farm at Malpotha trains SOS boys in organic farming, animal husbandry and conservation, giving them the opportunity to achieve real independence as farmers.

Our other Villages in Sri Lanka also support the local community.

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Piliyandala, Colombo

SOS Children began its work in Piliyandala in 1981. Today, 16 SOS families provide a loving home for up to 160 children from the region. The SOS youth facilities in Piliyandala also include workshops for woodwork, metalwork, welding and electronics, and our vocational training centre here prepares future SOS mothers and co-workers for the important roles they will be taking on in caring for children.

Nuwara Eliya

Our second Sri Lankan community opened in 1984. It has 10 family houses. The children go to the SOS nursery together with children from the neighbourhood, ensuring that they make friends and are integrated into their local community. They then go on to attend local schools together.


SOS Children's third Village in Sri Lanka opened in Galle in 1990. The community, which is on the outskirts of the city, has 12 family houses built in natural pink stone, an SOS Nursery, and three SOS Youth Homes.


Our fourth Village in Sri Lanka opened in 1994 in the celebrated ancient city of Anuradhapura. There are 14 family houses for up to 140 orphaned or abandoned children, an SOS Nursery and two SOS Youth Homes. Monaragala
SOS Children's Village Monaragala opened in 2000. The 12 family houses have views over the mountains.


When the war ended in 2009, we took 235 unaccompanied children into our care, providing them with shelter, education and healthcare as we tried to reunite them with their families.

Local contact

SOS Children’s Villages of Sri Lanka

P.O.Box 5



Sri Lanka

Tel: +94/11/270 3615

Fax: +94/11/270 2321


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