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Sri Lanka’s early lockdown and widespread testing have led to one of the most successful pandemic responses in South Asia, with remarkably low COVID-19 numbers. Even so, the government announced on 17 September that airports will not be reopened until the epidemic has been brought under 100 per cent control. Strict curfews have led to many more people staying at home, and there has been a reported increase in domestic violence against among women and children.

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COVID-19 in Sri Lanka

“There is a large portion of the community who are daily wage earners; they are the ones who are most affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Anthony

Compassion Sri Lanka Country Director

How is Compassion currently operating in Sri Lanka?

  • Are Compassion centres open?

    Compassion programming is on hold, but centres are working to fulfill government guidelines that will allow them to reopen. Some are projected to open in late September.

    Partners are committed to reaching out to families via phone at least once a week, and in some areas they have been able to conduct home visits and hold cooking classes while maintaining social distancing guidelines.

    They have distributed 107,451 food packs and 60,906 hygiene kits, and are delivering seed packets and disease-prevention information as they are able under the government guidelines.

    Children continue to write letters to their sponsors from home.

  • Are children receiving letters?

    The majority of letters are delayed in Sri Lanka, which means it may take longer for you to receive letters from your sponsored child. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write! We encourage you to continue sending your sponsored child letters of encouragement and hope. What a joyful day it will be when those letters are delivered!

  • Are gifts being delivered?

    Gifts continue to be distributed in Sri Lanka, although they are currently delayed. Staff members have been given the option to disburse monetary gifts to caregivers, where appropriate. This applies to family gifts and child gifts (including birthday and final gifts). Families may spend the gift on whatever they consider most important to meet family needs. The caregiver will decide the best use of the money, recognising that sometimes purchasing food or paying rent is in the best interest of a child.

How you can pray

Thank you for praying for children and families in Sri Lanka who have been impacted by COVID-19—and the local staff who continue to serve them in difficult circumstances.

Please join us in praying for the following:

  • God would bring everything that was studied back to mind as the children prepare to take their exams.
  • God would heal Tenasha, and she would be able to walk, run, and jump with the other children very soon.
  • God’s comfort and healing would be with Thulashika’s mother, who recently lost her baby.
  • Healing for Nipun, who has a genetic skin disease.
  • Libinesh would have a quick recovery and be able to return to normal activity soon.
  • God’s wisdom and guidance would be with the doctors and Chalindi’s parents as they seek to find what is causing her to be so ill.
  • God would provide for all the needs, health, and protection, of the children and their families.
  • God’s provision for the children as their parents look for work to provide for their families.
  • The staff’s safety and health as they begin traveling and returning to the National Office.
  • The country’s leadership as they make decisions on how to keep people safe and be able to provide for their families.
  • Praise God for allowing the elections to go smoothly.
Food Packs for Sri Lanka

Food Packs for Sri Lanka

For families living day-to-day in Sri Lanka, the pandemic and quarantine measures that followed drove them into further hardship. Day labourers like seven-year-old Pravin’s father, struggled to support the needs of their families and were worried they’d have no food to eat.   Read more open_in_new

Crisis Reports from Sri Lanka

  • update icon

    Strong Winds and Heavy Rains in Sri Lanka (Crisis Update) 24 Sep, 2020

    The situation

    The weather still is unpredictable with rain at different times of the day. The monsoon season begins soon.

    Global Compassion impact

    Number of local partners affected: 0 Number of Compassion assisted children affected: 84

    New information

    Local partners are supporting affected families.

    Prayer

    Please continue to pray for the safety and provision of children, families, and local partners in the midst of weather and COVID-19 challenges.

  • update icon

    Strong Winds and Heavy Rain in Sri Lanka (Crisis Update) 16 Sep, 2020

    The situation

    The weather conditions remain unpredictable with rain and winds across the country.

    Global Compassion impact

    Number of local partners affected: 0 Number of Compassion assisted children affected: 67

    New information

    Affected children and families have been supported to meet basic needs.

    Prayer

    Please continue to pray for the safety and provision of children and families living in the coastal areas.

  • update icon

    Strong Winds and Heavy Rain in Sri Lanka (Crisis Update) 11 Sep, 2020

    The situation

    The weather is mostly the same with strong winds along the coast and heavy rains in some areas causing flooding. The fishing communities were advised to stay vigilant.

    Global Compassion impact

    Number of local partners affected: 0 Number of Compassion assisted children affected: 23

    New information

    Affected children and families have been supported to meet basic needs.

    Prayer

    Please continue to pray for the safety and provision of children and families living in the coastal areas.

  • update icon

    Heavy rain and strong winds in Sri Lanka 06 Aug, 2020

    The situation

    Strong winds and heavy rains in north and north-west Sri Lanka have brought down trees, destroyed homes and caused localised flooding.

    Global Compassion impact

    Number of local partners affected: unknown Number of Compassion assisted children affected: unknown

    New information

    Local staff are assessing the impact on child development centres, local partners, and children and their families. Affected families are temporarily living with neighbours or relatives. Local workers and volunteers have helped to clean out houses and provided polythene sheets to cover damaged roofs.

    Prayer

    Please pray for the safety and security of affected children and families. Pray for the local staff as they assess the situation and help the families find a way forward.

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Please note: Due to the current pandemic, most child development centres in Sri Lanka are temporarily closed. Our local partners continue to meet the urgent needs of the children through home-based care.

A snapshot of Compassion's Child Sponsorship Program in Sri Lanka

Compassion’s program is contextualised across countries and communities, as well as age groups.

  • Children aged 1 to 3 receive home-based care.
  • Children aged 3 and older visit the Compassion centre for six to eight hours every week.
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Compassion Program Activities in Sri Lanka

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Compassion assisted children in Sri Lanka typically attend program activities at the local child development centre on Saturdays. Here is an example of what a typical program day looks like for children in Sri Lanka.

8:00am – A time for songs, games and introductions.

10:30am – Break time, when children can play in a safe environment and develop friendships.

11:00am – Social-emotional lessons ranging from conflict resolution to developing healthy self-esteem. Children often come from challenging home environments and are taught social and personal skills.

12:00pm – Lunch and social time. Children enjoy a meal of rice, meat or fish, vegetables and fruit.

1:00pm – Health lessons, in which children learn practical health and hygiene lessons.

2:00pm – Letter writing and career planning. Older children work with local staff to identify their strengths and interests and set goals for their future.

Children can also attend camps, sporting events, field trips and talent shows. Parents of Compassion assisted children meet once a month to learn about a variety of topics.

The greatest needs impacting children living in poverty in Sri Lanka

36

mothers die from pregnancy related causes per 100,000 births

8

children under the age of five die per 1000 births

16%

of children are underweight

Sri Lanka is slowly emerging from a brutal decades-long civil war that resulted in mass displacement and tens of thousands of deaths. But this beautiful, scenic nation carries the scars of the conflict—and poverty continues to hold many children back.

In 2009, the Sinhalese-majority government army forced a complete defeat for the Tamil Tigers (known as the LTTE), ending a long and bitter conflict. Civilians were caught in the crossfire throughout the 26-year long war, and between 80,000 and 100,000 people were killed.

While the fighting has stopped, the legacy of the conflict lingers. By the end of 2012, the majority of those who fled during the civil war had returned to Sri Lanka, but thousands have been unable to return to their communities and remain internally displaced.

Poverty still affects millions of Sri Lankans, mostly in the northern and eastern regions. It is greatest among rural and remote communities and it affects minority groups disproportionately. Those living as labourers on tea estates face the greatest disadvantages in gaining access to education, healthcare, better quality food and housing.

Child labour and forced labour trap many families in generational poverty; but recent efforts to improve access to education have helped many more children (particularly girls) to enter the classroom. The quality of education needs to improve, as schools and teachers often don’t have the resources they need to get the best results for children, but enrolment rates are strong—which is a source of hope for the next generation of Sri Lankan children.

Many daily wage earners have lost work and their families face increased hunger and hardship in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Local partners and staff continue to reach out to offer encouragement and support; they are delivering food packs and medical support to meet immediate, urgent needs.

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