Asha Trust works in a community on the outskirts of Colombo in Sri Lanka. Housing and other facilities are poor here and finding work is a daily struggle: many earn less than $2 a day. Our community workers support people to develop solutions to the many challenges they face, restoring hope and building ladders out of poverty.
We run a range of services and activities from a purpose-built centre in the heart of the community. These include booster classes for the local children and young people, activities such as art therapy and mindfulness, plus a lot of fun with dance and music sessions and regular trips out. We also run activities for the mothers such as sewing and cooking.
The Asha Centre is an oasis in a tough place providing a safe space for children to learn and grow.
Supporting children with disabilities
We ensure that our regular services are welcoming and accessible to all, whilst also running dedicated services for children and young people with disabilities, including weekly sessions working closely with our partner RCCI. We also provide advocacy to help families access medical and statutory services.
Responding to the Covid pandemic
Though the centre was forced to close during the pandemic, the local team soon found new ways of engaging the children and young people using weekly study packs in conjunction with recorded tutorials sent via WhatsApp. This overcame the lack of of access to digital devices in a family. Often a family only had one phone, but the recorded tutorial could be accessed whenever the phone was available. The centre is now open once again and is slowly returning to a full programme.
However, things remain extremely difficult for the families we serve. Sri Lanka is now in the midst of an economic crisis with shortages of staple foods, regular power cuts, and an uncertain future. Following the relaxing of Covid restrictions more people are returning to work, although it is often irregular daily work with no guarantees of a steady income. Furthermore, the food shortages have
increased costs of essential items exponentially, pushing families further into poverty.
Even middle income earners are increasingly feeling the economic shock with increased taxes for everyone.
We continue to provide a monthly food parcel to around 100 families, supplementing their irregular and limited food supplies.