On The Road Blog
Local heroes: Anoja Rajapatirana
- By The Global Fund for Children on March 15th, 2013
- Category: Blog, Featured, Featured Blog, Home, South Asia
We are always thrilled when our grantee partners come to town. Recently, Anoja Rajapatirana, director of Educate, Advocate, Support, Empower Foundation (EASE) made a visit to the GFC office to share the progress of her organization’s work.
EASE, which is located in Battaramulla, Sri Lanka, received its first grant from GFC last spring. EASE works to educate and empower autistic and other disabled children, the majority of whom have had little or no access to education, by helping them to develop the skills to be productive members of their families and communities. GFC’s grant supports EASE’s center, which provides intensive and individualized interventions for 25 children five days a week. EASE builds their self-esteem, decision-making abilities, and relationship-building skills by utilizing age-appropriate techniques and materials and by engaging the children in recreational activities.
Sri Lanka continues to struggle with poverty and the aftermath of a prolonged war. In addition, Anoja explained, many children with disabilities and their families face specific challenges, including archaic social attitudes toward people with disabilities and little awareness of current trends in the field of disability.
Approximately 11 percent of the Sri Lankan population is disabled. While a figure for the prevalence of autism in Sri Lanka is unavailable, it is thought to be similar to the figure for the United States (1 in 155, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Most Sri Lankan children with disabilities are not in school, and most adults with disabilities live with aging relatives or in overcrowded institutions.
Parents of children with disabilities often find it hard to access the social services they need in order to enable their children. Without access to, or availability of government resources, the lack of fluency in English is an additional obstacle for parents to obtain information and assistance outside Sri Lanka.
Together, GFC and EASE are working to expand the reach and impact of holistic services available to Sri Lankan children with disabilities. Your continued support gives them hope.