Shilpa Children’s Trust was founded in 1987, at the height of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. Girls who lost their family and their homes in the conflict were given a chance to rebuild their life in a safe and loving environment, with access to a good education and skills training. In 2001, a modest, broken-down building which housed 25 girls was renovated and transformed into a beautifully designed new premises, able to accommodate 50 girls. The 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami disaster led to the expansion of Shilpa’s services, establishing rehabilitation programmes in Hambantota and Kalutara, and helping approximately 300 affected children, their caregivers and also thousands of people in the community. Therefore, we are proud to say that twenty-nine years later, while Shilpa has witnessed tremendous growth, it has remained true to its origins.
Education and skills training is of primary importance to us. We are aware of the fact that children born into poverty face an uncertain future and risk falling into the same unfortunate patterns as their parents before them. It is also a sad fact that simply being born female subjects women to many types of abuse and violence. Some girls enter into the real world unqualified for anything other than menial jobs with low pay or are forced into prostitution. As a result, Shilpa has a vested interest in providing a good education and skills training for all the girls who reside with us. The word “Shilpa”, translates to ‘education and skills’, and thus emphasises our desire to provide our girls with the support they need to rebuild their lives. We take pride in having bettered the lives of many of our girls, some of who are now trained and employed in various industries such as travel, advertising, accountancy, graphics, nursing, and teaching. It goes without saying that these efforts would not have been possible without the many donors who have helped our girls through their donations and volunteer work, for which we are truly grateful. We look forward to maintaining our high standards and further developing the activities of the Trust and services provided by Shilpa.
Shilpa Child Development Center
The Children’s Home provides residential facilities to 30 girls. The home has two dormitories, study and recreational rooms, a library, an administrative office and a computer room. A small but beautifully kept garden enhances the pleasant atmosphere of the home, and all in all provides a comfortable and safe haven for the girls. The residence was newly built in 2003 with funding from the International Childcare Trust, UK and the European Union.
Educating girls and rebuilding their lives
Girls who have been neglected, abused, abandoned or displaced are brought to Shilpa by the Department of Probation and Childcare. They are nursed back to physical and mental health through counselling, various forms of therapy and their education is continued/initiated by enrolment in the nearby state schools. They have access to a wide range of sports and recreational activities such as art, music, and dancing. If the girls show interest or potential skills in these areas, they are encouraged to pursue these activities to boost their confidence, improve academic performance and help them to deal with any residual stress and depression. Shilpa looks after the girls until they sit for the Advanced Level exam and leave school at 18 + years, at which time they leave the Centre.
The Heloise Wall Endowment Fund looks after all tuition and travelling fees incurred by the girls who are studying in the Grade 12 and 13 classes preparing for their University Entrance Exams.
Programmes for girls over 18
One of the newer services offered by Shilpa is extending care to girls beyond the age of 18 after they leave the Centre if they require additional assistance. We ensure that they are provided with vocational training, university education, job placements, and secure accommodation outside the Centre, while hostel fees, and course fees are met by Shilpa through the Bella Holmes Endowment Fund. This enables the girls to gain financial independence and secure their futures, and they continue to remain a part of the Shilpa family, participating in Shilpa functions, trips and celebrations.