This programme has been started in the aftermath of a 25 year old civil war that has taken thousands of lives, destroyed families and homes, caused hundreds of thousands casualties, many with horrific disabilities, and traumatized hundreds of thousands of people of which many are children. The war has taken its toll on Sri Lanka economically, along with the global credit crunch; the situation is only going to get worse before it gets better. As usual the burden of such misadventures falls on the most vulnerable, the poor and that part of the population that cannot find a voice for itself like the disabled.
Now the war in Sri Lanka is over, rebuilding and development of the health structures is starting. In Trincomalee District the MENCAFEP project is part of that rebuilding and development, for a marginalised group of children and their families.
The day care centre
The MENCAFEP programme in Trincomalee district started in 2005 and still continues to identify disabled children and their families. The number of children attending the centre is now 47, with another 20 having been identified. However due to transport difficulties, these 20 children cannot attend the centre, but are on the ‘Home Visit Programme’. All three communities Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim attend the centre. This is helping break down the barriers that the bloody civil war had created. The staff that is working in the centre comes from out the communities.
The project serves several target groups and executes various activities:
So far 47 children with disabilities are reintegrated in society and participated in community activities. The average attendance rate at centres lies already at 70 %. The centre also carries out regular home visits and has reached 67 families to date (end of 2010). These children now also have access to health services and specialised care, they receive nutritional inputs/ foods, and their families come to terms with the disability. Awareness raising sessions has reached more than 300 families. 70% of all families attend family support meetings, and children and their families receive awareness raising on opportunities of education.
With the opening of the only resource for disabled children in the Trincomalee, it is now important to point out what this means for children with disabilities and their families in the Trincomalee area. After many years of war and violence MENCAFEP has come into an area that has had land mines all over the place (now removed), where roads, health care, education, sanitation, livelihoods and food security are destroyed. However, the situation is now improving; jobs are being created by the reconstruction process, with education back on track and improved health. The MENCAFEP – Trincomalee programme contributes to these developments by providing a save place for disabled children in which they can get (additional) education, food and care.
Donors: Zorg en Zekerheid (Dutch insurance company)
Aim: to provide a day-care centre for disabled children and to focus on the rehabilitation of families.
Local partner Shanthiham’
Shantiham has been HealthNet TPO’s long standing partner in Sri Lanka. This organization has been recognized as a training centre in the field of psychosocial by national, international and government organizations and has been mentioned in the National Mental Health Policy as a recognized institution in the field of mental health. Training manuals and materials of ‘Shanthiham’ are widely used by other service providers. The Government has translated and reproduced the book titled ‘Child Mental Health’ in three languages.
Though ‘Shanthiham’ is based in the Jaffna District, its services are requested from other parts of the country. ‘Shanthiham’ follows a multidisciplinary; rights based approach and respect gender and cultural sensitiveness pursuing good practices involving state and non-state actors Care and supervision of staff, reviewing and evolving activities to maximize outcome is an ongoing process.