Investing in the Future of Sri Lankan Children
Early childhood development (ECD) is at the heart of
ChildFund's work and strongly influences our global work. If children are
deprived of the chance to start their lives with the resources they need, their
chances of emerging from poverty and leading healthy, happy and productive lives
are greatly diminished. ChildFund works in some of the poorest countries in the
world to provide children and their families with the support they need, and in
Sri Lanka, the need remains great.
In some countries, the
challenges facing children and their families are somewhat straightforward: food
scarcity, the prevalence of disease or income inequality. However, in Sri Lanka,
social problems are often much more complex and stem from the country's 26-year
political conflict that ended in 2009. During that time, 460,000 people were
displaced, and many are struggling now to acclimate after returning home.
Malnutrition is one of
the most urgent problems facing people in the country's poorest communities.
Children suffering from malnutrition often have weaker immune systems, which
reduces their ability to fight disease and develop at a typical rate. According
to UNICEF, 17 percent of infants born between 2006 and 2010 were underweight,
than 20 percent were moderately to severely underweight. In addition, a lack
of access to health care places thousands of expectant mothers at risk of dying
Even if children survive
their first few years, poor sanitation remains a major factor in the spread of
disease and child mortality. Diarrhea and respiratory infections are among Sri
Lanka's leading causes of death in children, both of which can be improved by
informing parents and caretakers about children's basic developmental needs,
which include proper diet and hygiene.
Our ECD programs in Sri
Lanka have benefited more than 1.2 million children and their families since we
came to the country in 1985. Our approach to ECD empowers families to make good
decisions about their children's early years, focusing on nutrition, health
care, education and ongoing psychosocial, emotional, physical and mental
When mothers and other
caretakers become educated about healthier diets and good hygiene practices,
children benefit; they are more likely to resist diseases and reach their
potential. Children experience social and academic growth through play and
exploration. To date, ChildFund has either constructed or developed 430 ECD
centers across Sri Lanka, and more than 6,000 children have access to ECD
ChildFund has also been
instrumental in the strengthening of parent-teacher associations across the
country, a vital step toward improving awareness of the importance of good child
development practices. In communities throughout Sri Lanka, we have also
provided 750 training sessions to mothers on about hygiene, childhood illnesses,
primary health care, childcare and stimulation, reaching more than 16,000
parents and caregivers.
Thanks to the continued
work of ChildFund, other aid organizations and the government, Sri Lanka is now
the only South Asian country to be categorized as "high" on the United Nations'
Development Index. ChildFund needs your help to maintain this momentum and
ensure that children in need are given the opportunity to grow and learn.
Sponsoring a child is one of the best ways you can invest in the future of a
child, and for just $28 per month, you can help us bring
hope to a child and his or her family in Sri Lanka.