Sri Lanka 2020
GIVE A GIRL A DREAM
In 2020 our focus is on the Women’s Development Centre in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Here we find girls as young as 11 years old who have been raped and abused, become pregnant as a result, and have been sent away from home to avoid the shame within their community. They have one room where they take it in turns to look after their babies, and another where the rest of the girls work every day to create fabrics and garments which are sold to cover their living costs. The Women’s Development Centre do all they can to look after these young women and girls, but they need help.
When they reach 18, these girls must leave. As ‘spoiled’ women, they will not be able to marry, and without skills they will likely spend the rest of their lives working in menial jobs for very little pay.
On Tuesday 3rd March 2020, our team of 11 gathered together in Kandy, Sri Lanka to kick off the project. With an initial fund of £20,000, we begin phase 1 of 3 here with a goal to implement improved living conditions for the girls in the centre, a lasting infrastructure for improvements and education, and a solidified plan for phase 2 and 3 once we’ve fully evaluated the girls’ individual needs.
We plan to provide three things:
- Improved living and working conditions for all the girls in the centre
- New opportunities, through education and resources
- Ongoing support, by helping to supply the essentials like clean water, hygiene items and baby care – and the knowhow to use them correctly
We want to make a difference. Find out more about what we’re doing below.
AN INTERVIEW WITH OUR FOUNDER
I catch up with Maresce, the founder of Heir Foundation, over a glass of wine on a lovely warm Sri Lankan evening in Kandy. She tells me where the Heir Foundation came from, what it’s all about, and where it’s headed.
DAY 1: WHAT IS THE CHALLENGE?
On Wednesday 4th March 2020, we make our way to the Women’s Development Centre for the first time. Maresce (our founder, who originally visited last year and was inspired to create the project), warns us: “You will probably get pretty emotional today; I know I did. Just try not to let it show too much. We’re here to give these girls hope”.
Read more about what we saw on our first day, and understand the challenges we are hoping to resolve during our 2020 project in Kandy, Sri Lanka.
Our first phase of the project runs from 3-29 March 2020. During these three and a half weeks we focus on the basics, and the first of our goals: improving the girls’ living and working conditions through cleaning, refurbishment, and provision of improved lighting, plumbing, and furnishings. As part of this we are installing more energy efficient electrical solutions, which although are more expensive upfront are extremely cost efficient and will help to save the centre money in the long run.
We are also working with the girls and the House Mothers to provide education about the use of these facilities to ensure they remain in a good state of repair and can be utilised for many years.
PHASES 2 & 3
While we work hard to implement phase 1 of the Give a Girl a Dream project, we must also consider our future plans. We are looking to secure funding to provide the education and ongoing support these girls need.
If you or your company are interested in providing support, please contact us at email@example.com for an information pack. We are also grateful for any individual donations, no matter the amount, which we could use to make a difference here.
WHAT DO THE GIRLS NEED?
Pregnancy and babies are expensive. In addition to better living and work environments and improved education and opportunities, the girls in the centre need all sorts of consumables. While the centre does receive donations, these are irregular and inconsistent; so they can’t be relied on. We want to provide them with a good stock of supplies and the means to get hold of more through ongoing donations.
We also understand that many people want to know specifically what they’re paying for when they donate. That’s why we’re looking into ways for you to provide direct sponsorship for girls, babies, and the items they need. If you are interested in becoming a supplier for specific items, please get in touch.
For now, here are some of the consumables we are providing:
These are regular items that get used up. We need a constant, regular supply of these. We’d love to accept a bulk delivery, but please check with us first – there’s only so much storage!
- Hair elastics and clips
- Toothbrushes and toothpaste
- Dental floss
- Cotton wool/balls
- Cotton buds/swabs
- Shower/body soap
- Hand soap
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Lice combs and medicinal lice shampoo
- First aid kits (and stocks for these!)
- Washable cloth sanitary pads*
- Disinfectant wipes
- Washable nappies/diapers*
* While we appreciate the intention, please don’t provide disposable nappies or sanitary pads. The girls have been found to be washing and reusing these as they do not understand the health risks in doing so, and feel they are not getting value from only one use. We would love donations of washable ones, though!
Permanent items for each girl/baby
These are the items that we’d give to each of the girls, to use for themselves or their baby. They don’t need replacing as often as the consumables, but still don’t last forever. Right now, we need around 25-30 of each of these.
- Covered bins
- Nappy/diaper bins
- Laundry baskets
- Plastic mattress protectors for the cribs
- Plastic mattress protectors for adult beds
- Bath towels
- Bags for mothers to keep essentials
- Combs and hairbrushes
- Underwear and bras
- Clothes for all sizes
Permanent items to be shared
These are items that could each help many girls. Even one of each would help – but as there are many girls here, we’ve specified where having more would be ideal.
- Mosquito nets for windows (15-20)
- Dustpans & brush sets (2-3)
- Clothes airers/drying racks (~10)
- Washboards for clothing (3-4)
- Scrubbing brushes for clothes (3-4)
- Stovetop kettles (sturdy ones - they’ll be over a fire!)
- Fire extinguishers
- Fire/smoke alarms
- Whiteboards (1-3)
- One large soft-walled playpen
- Baby gates (3-4)
- Baby toys (suitable for <1 year)
- Bottle sterilisers (2-3)
- Breast pumps (5-6)
- Breast milk storage
WOMEN’S DEVELOPMENT CENTRE
WDC’s mission and overall goal is to be a socially accountable and sustainable mediator. By intervening through creative, innovative and effective change initiatives WDC strives to encourage self-reliance and promote equal opportunities for at risk and vulnerable women, youth, and children with/without disabilities. The organisation advocates on a rights based ‘bottom-up’ approach that is led and supported by a professional team of activists and local networks, that work at local and national level.