Sri Lanka joins the Global Marathon Challenge ' Race for Survival'.
50 Children from Hambantota will run a race to support the Global Marathon Challenge of Save the Children, on the 16th of October 2012.
The world is reaching a crucial moment in the global effort to end preventable child deaths. The number of children dying before their fifth birthday across the world has almost halved in a generation, from 12 million to 6.9 million in the last decade. But the fight is not over. While progress is being made, the global decline is still too slow to achieve the Millennium Development Goal on child survival by the 2015 deadline.
Sri Lanka which has impressive child health care systems and low child mortality rates will support the global voice to accelerate the reach of MDP goal on child survival.
The Story of Poompuhar Govt Tamil Mixed School, Jaffna
The Poompuhar GTMS was displaced in 1995 during the height of the war. The students and teachers had to continue the school in a temporary place within Jaffna for many year. During the peace talks, the school returned to Ariyalai East in 2002. However, in 2006 the school was displaced as all the villagers went to Vanni as the war escalated. During displacement Save the Children supported the children and teachers to continue education by providing temporary learning spaces and education material.
Following the end of the war in 2009, the people of this village were resettled in their own location in 2011. By this time the school which has classes up to grade 10, was severely damaged due to the war. The main building had no roof and the principal had no choice but to conduct classes in an abandoned house and under trees. There was hardly any facility for the school to function. During rain teachers had to abandon their classes and get their children to safety. The Government made a request to Save the Children to renovate and rebuild the school. With 4.1 million rupees of funding from the Ministry of foreign Affairs Norway in October 2011. Save the Children added a computer room and a library to the school and provided furniture, library books, sports goods and musical instruments to the school. All the children received shoes school bags and stationery.
On 20th June 2012, the school was handed over to the children at a simple ceremony. The school only had four teachers. But now the Zonal Education Authorities in Nallur have promised to give them extra teachers especially for aesthetics. One mother in the village has volunteered to teach Sinhala to the children whose mother tongue is Tamil. Two more former students also provide their time and skills as volunteer teachers. Already the number of students has gone up to 50 and the children have a permanent place to call ‘ our school’ and indeed it is a new beginning for them.
"Tell my story to the world; don't send children to children's homes!"
We met Bhageerathan ( 15) at his house in Elalai South in Jaffna. He is the youngest of six siblings. Due to poverty, his mother sent him to a children's home in the area at the age of six. Bhageerathan could not understand why he was separated from his family, especially the mother. He was sad and angry. He cried often because he wanted to go home He refused to talk to his mother whenever she visited him.
" It was like a prison. The matrons had their favourites. Most of us were neglected. We had to work to a strict time table. From four in the morning till ten at night we had time allocated for many things.There was hardly any time to play. Even then we did not have any sports goods. We used a coconut branch for a bat and a dry palmyrah fruit for a ball to play cricket. The matrons stole the food. We often had left over food from the previous day. They gave us vegetables all the time. And when bananas were in season and cheap, they gave us bananas as dessert"
" During my stay there I chose to sleep in the empty water tank. No one knew I was there. I had the sky for a roof and I felt free there. I really like drawing and painting but they did not allow me to do that at all. I really wanted to come home. I wanted the love and warmth of my mother." He added.
We came to know about Bhageerathan in 2009 December. Following discussions with the mother, she agreed to bring him back home. Save the Children ( Denmark) also offered support to the family to start something to have a regular income. In January 2010 Bhageerathan came home. He was the happiest. He soon got admission to the school near his home and continued his studies. In addition to his studies, Bhageerathan also plays football and has been selected to play at the national level. But what makes him even happier is the freedom he has to paint pictures. He wants to find a career based on his artistic abilites.
" A children's home is never a home for children. Ask the children who live there. I want you to tell my story to the whole world and tell parents and other adults never to send children to these homes."