ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, January 14, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 33

Helping children of the tsunami

By Nadia Fazlulhaq

Two years after the tsunami, around 4000 children are still struggling to live without their parents, some having only a single parent. If they are given a helping hand, it could make a huge difference to their lives.

The Shrama Shakthi organization's foster parents scheme which does just this, is now well on its way, having seen the third phase being launched on January 4, this year.

The " Shrama Shakthi" organization's foster parenting programme initially helped 105 children who were affected by the tsunami. The children aged between 3 to 22 from Matara, Galle, Hambantota, Peraliya, Hikkaduwa and Batticaloa, include two medical students and two university students.

"First we focused only on children who were orphaned but saw many children struggling to survive with one parent. Now both groups are included," says Shanthini Kongahage, President of Shrama Shakthi.

The foster parents who are providing financial support to the children are from Kent, in the U.K. Lakshman and Jennifer Kahawatte from United Kingdom also sponsor this programme.

According to Mrs.Kongahage though the parents are from UK, the children are educated and will be working in Sri Lanka in future.
They now have insurance cover, medical coverage and many other benefits as well as a special identity.

"It's a great support to these children to have permanent caretakers, especially foreign parents who are well-respected senior citizens with the ability to support the children financially and in other ways until they are grown up," Mrs. Kongahage says.

The "Shrama Shakthi" organization was formed 15 years ago and has focused on alleviating the struggles of women working at Free Trade Zones, organizing medical camps and introducing and funding self-employment opportunities for rural women and women who were affected by the tsunami.

"Even though it's two years after the tsunami, these children have rebuilt themselves and performed well in the education stream. The scholarship and O/L results of the students were good and we feel that we have done our duty in taking care of these children and are satisfied with their success," she says.

There are around 3800- 4000 children displaced and now living without parental support or with single parents amidst great financial difficulties, whom Shrama Shakthi is hoping to support.

"We have not published any details on the Internet as many false organizations have led donors astray. I have decided to have direct contact with the foster parents and all the details are provided by the Shrama Shakthi organization," says Mrs. Kongahage.

Those who are interested in helping can contact Mrs.Kongahage on 0777 588892 or write to: Shrama Shakthi Head Office 228, Kandy Road, Pilimatalawa.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.