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Early childhood and youth development project – Naula, Matale

The problem

Situated in the Central Province of Sri Lanka is a small town called Naula, near Matale. It is approximately 15 km from the main road and consists of a series of extremely remote villages. The livelihood of people depends on seasonal paddy, chena cultiavation and daily casual wages, creating a poverty rate of more than 50% in the area.

There are only rudimentary sanitary and clean drinkuing water facilities among poor families, high malnutrition among children, liow literacy rates, and a lack of child development activities. Poor roads, unfavourable climate and a general lack of infrastructure such as public transport and communuication facilities reinforce the difficulties of living and surviving in the area.

The project

Shining Life Children’s Trust formed a 3-year partnership with a local non-govenrmental organisation called Sithuwama (meaning ‘the way of child development with enjoyment’) Training and Education Development Organisation (STEDO). STEDO works on social development programmes with a special emphasis on child focused acticties, in central Sri Lanka. Shining Life's role was to provide funds for the Naula project and technical assistance in the design, management and monitoring of the project.

The aim of the project was to ensure that the children have a better childhood and improved prospects by providing them and their families with access to education and development opportuinites. Due to the rural nature of the area a multi-faceted approach was adopted to achieve this (see diagram below).

“Since my child started at pre-school he comes home and sings songs. He loves to go to the pre-school and is anxious to learn.”

K Thalatha Kumarihamy, mother of pre-school child

“The children who hid behind the door when we visited earlier, now come forward. ‘Aunty, when are you coming to our house next?’ they ask”

Lalitha Rathanayake, home based child care volunteer

“We did not know how to conduct a children’s club – now we have that opportunity. The members are all keen and take an interest in carrying out their duties!”

Samantha Bandara, youth club member

The project worked across 25 villages in a geographically difficult and impoverished area in the Naula Divisional Secretariat. The combined area had 739 families and a population of 2668.

A full-time project officer was employed and a field office established in Naula. The project officer was responsible for the day to day running of the project.

In addition, a network of over 40 local volunteers was identified and trained to run the various programmes. The strength and sustainability of the project lies in this.

Project activities and objectives were carefully explained to the myriad of community based organisations and local government officers in the area, to obtain their support and to promote accountability and transparency.

Monitoring progress

Monthly progress review meetings were facilitated by the project officer. Everyone involved with the project was encouraged to participate. The use of participatory techniques contributed to the sustainability of the project and the process of empowering communities, families, women and children alike.

components of Naula project

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