Ministry Highlight: Sri Lanka

sri-lanka-facts Our work in Sri Lanka began in 2010 with the Child Survival Program. The Child Sponsorship and Leadership Development Programs have not yet been implemented.

Country Director

Sujith Siri Kumara first came to know about our ministry in 2004 when he participated in the holistic child development program at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Penang, Malaysia. Since that time, he has been active in child advocacy in Sri Lanka.

In 2009 Sujith became the representative for our ministry in Sri Lanka, where he assumed duties as the interim Country Director.

Sujith was a Marxist in his youth, but later became disillusioned with the Marxist movement and faced a series of personal crises. He was planning to commit suicide when God reached out to him and he became a Christian. Since that time, he has been a dedicated Christian worker, serving as a pastor and church planter for Calvary churches in Sri Lanka.

Later he realized his calling to serve children, and he and his wife, Renuka, became house parents for ESCAPE, a transit home for sexually abused children.

From 1996 to 2004 Sujith taught, preached and trained thousands of pastors, teachers, social workers, police personnel and caregivers in governmental and nongovernmental organizations about child advocacy and protection.

Sujith also designed and planned a three-year diploma program in holistic child development at Lanka Bible College and Seminary in Colombo.

He has written several books on child care and child abuse, and served as the magazine editor for the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka to educate pastors and Christian workers in Sri Lanka.

Implementing Church Partners

Implementing Church Partners are local churches in Sri Lanka with whom we work to deliver child development and ministry in the field.

  • Spiritual Climate
    Sri Lanka is a predominantly Buddhist nation,and Buddhism is considered to be the state religion. The evangelical community makes up less than 1 percent of the population. Even though churches are persecuted at times, generally there is a sense of religious harmony in Sri Lanka.
  • Unique Challenges
    It is difficult to move toward our desired spiritual outcome as Christians are sometimes accused of unethical conversion tactics in Sri Lanka. So sharing the Christian faith in a direct manner through the Child Survival Program is very difficult.

    There is a lack of Implementing Church Partner capacity. Our need for training is high as it is difficult to find qualified Christian staff for the Child Survival Program.

    Our Implementing Church Partners lack infrastructure and facilities. We also face issues with integrity and accountability with some Implementing Church Partners.

  • Contributions
    Implementing Church Partners provide facilities for the Child Survival Program. They also provide access to water and electricity.
  • Partner Development Activities
    We provide extensive training and workshops for the Implementing Church Partners regarding ministry values, goals, objectives, and desired outcomes to ensure holistic child development. We also provide extensive training on bookkeeping, facility management, communications and office administration and have regular meetings with the Cield Office staff, where Implementing Church Partners can share their work and experiences.

    We also have regular prayer days, which help the Implementing Church Partners and staff to renew strength in God as we continue to minister in Sri Lanka.

Complementary Interventions

Our Child Survival Program cannot address all obstacles to a child’s healthy development. The Complementary Interventions Program was created to work with our holistic child development model to provide additional services such as our AIDS Initiative, funds for Bibles for All Children, disaster relief and water projects.

Typical Complementary Interventions in Sri Lanka include medical and crisis relief.

Child Survival Program

  • Caregiver Literacy
    We have identified that the biggest need for mothers and infants is health and basic care for infants. Some Child Survival Programs have started to teach literacy at a very basic level.
  • Income-Generating Skills
    Income-generating activities such as home gardening and sewing are taught in a few of the Child Survival Programs, while others are focusing on health and nutrition.

  • Health Care
    Health care is provided by government hospitals. When mothers or children need special care that may require payment, our ministry provides them with the needed support.

    Half of our centers are currently found at tea plantations, where the health care system is not very effective. Therefore we make a special effort to ensure that the moms in the program get proper health care.

    Compared with other parts of the country, there is a lack of knowledge of health care at the tea plantations. Therefore, we have to equip our Implementing Church Partners with knowledge about health care.

    Our Child Survival Program specialist, who is a medical doctor, is using a curriculum to teach mothers about the health of their children and about basic care of their infants.

  • Nutritional Support
    We provide regular nutritional packs to the mothers.
  • Involvement of Fathers
    There are many fathers in the Child Survival Programs who join in at the meetings with their wives. Some of the centers have also conducted family planning sessions and lessons about having a happy family. We also interact with the fathers through family trips and home visits.

  • Transition Out of the Child Survival Program
    Because the Child Survival Program only recently began in Sri Lanka, we do not yet have the Child Sponsorship Program. However, we are raising awareness among the Implementing Church Partners about the need for a Child Sponsorship Program.
  • Areas of Expansion for the Child Survival Program
    We would like to expand to the Nuwara Eliya district in the central hills of Sri Lanka, which is predominantly occupied by Tamils of Indian origin. Ninety percent of the landscape there is covered by tea plantations.

    Families have lived in this region for generations working in tea plantations, and they are a marginalized community. Most of these families work for minimal payment, and they are exploited for work.

    The percentage of children who go to school in this area is very low because older siblings stay home to look after younger siblings while their parents are at work. Some children start working at a very young age. Many of these families cannot afford to send their children to school.

    Neglect and physical and sexual abuse are also high in these regions. Alcoholism is a growing concern in the tea plantations as men and women are addicted to alcohol.

    We would also like to expand in Colombo. The conditions in the slum communities are similar to the tea plantations. People live in close quarters and unclean environments.

    Children in this region are prone to diseases. Many do not go to school, and abuse levels are high.

    Poverty and frustration leads some mothers to commit suicide, sell their own children, or abort them. Many children end up working in the city as domestic servants or restaurant kitchen helpers.

3 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Jessica August 6, 2011

    Thanks for this article. Very interesting. Sri Lanka is a country i don’t know much about.

  2. Lisa Miles August 5, 2011

    Sujith Siri Kumara is another example of God bringing incredible people to work at Compassion. It’s so exciting to meet the Compassion people around the world, via the blog. I feel like our kids are in the best possible hands.

    It certainly sounds like there are a lot of unique challenges in Sri Lanka. But it’s such a cool country and I’m so glad Compassion is there!

  3. Stephanie Green August 5, 2011

    It sounds as though the needs are great there. So glad Compassion has come to Sri Lanka and is beginning from the ground up with infants and their parents in CSP’s.

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