January 3, 2010 was a happy day for more than 250 children of prisoners in the Welikada Prisons. They came from all parts of the island accompanied by their guardians to spend the day with their parent in prison. One little girl had both her parents in prison-both having received the death sentence. An appeal to the authorities made it possible for her mother too to be brought to Welikade and she enjoyed the day with both parents.
The 'Friends of Prisoners Children' seeks to bring to the awareness of our society their responsibility to alleviate the suffering of these children.
A large tent festooned with balloons and streamers greeted the visitors. The traditional lamp made up of yellow and green coconut leaves showed the creative talent of the prisoners.
As the children walked in, each family was given a substantial package of refreshments, sufficient for the family. 'Nestea' was on the spot to serve a hot cup of tea.
Soon the sound of Kandyan dancers was heard ushering in the Chief Guest – Commissioner General of Prisons, Major General V.R. Silva and Mrs. Silva. The festivities got underway, and the committee of the Friends of Prisoners Children who had worked together to make this occasion possible, got into place to take charge of each detail assigned to them. A group of enthusiastic young people acted as 'coordinators' to see to the comfort of about ten children and their families.
Besides the main invitees, three students addressed the gathering. One youth who gained 10 distinctions at the GCE 'O' level examination two years ago, and had been elected Head Prefect of his school this year spoke about his feelings when his father was sent to prison; his present ambition to enter the medical profession; and his appeal to the students before him not to allow this tragedy in their lives to make them falter, but to take it as a challenge to show our society how well they can grow up and move forward.
The second, a girl from a rural school in the south spoke of her ambition to enter the medical profession too. It is only once a year that she comes to Colombo to see her father in prison. She has been sponsored since 2005. The third boy having done very well in his 'O' levels with seven distinctions had gained admission to a leading school in Colombo. He hopes to become an engineer.
Each one of them had a special word of thanks for their sponsor, without whose help they would not have been able to get this far.
Those who wish to sponsor a child can apply to: "Friends of Prisoners’ Children", 133, Ananda Rajakaruna Mawatha, Colombo 10.