Post Tsunami Rehabilitation Program in Sri Lanka
Following the tsunami, thousands of children, youth and their families found themselves incapable of continuing normal daily life and activities. Uprooted from their homes and separated from their former lives, children and youngsters found themselves in a state of neglect. Brit Olam’s rehabilitation program in post-tsunami Sri Lanka built on the rationale that when social structures collapse, children and youth take an important role in rebuilding and developing social and economical structures. The program answered the needs of adolescents that needed to cope with post crisis effects along with the need to provide for their families, while lacking experience or appropriate skills, which often led to drug and alcohol abuse, violence and other abnormal social behavior. Community Centers Two comprehensive community centers and one child day care center created a base to develop of a network of multi-purpose interventions (non-formal education, recreational activities and vocational training), to serve the various needs of the populations with special emphasis on the needs of children, youth and young adults. The centers were built in the areas surrounding the tsunami survivor’s camps in Southern Sri Lanka. Each center comprised of a large activity room and four to six classrooms in addition to a kitchen, bathrooms and other basic facilities. The centers offer the children, youth and their families a wide range of activities and programs to enrich their social and cultural world, develop personal empowerment and leadership skills, provide psychological and interpersonal relations support as well as formal, recreational, vocational, environmental and health education. The community center’s activities and and programs provided are designed to meet the different needs of the community and include: social and cultural orientation, vocational trainings for teenagers, unemployed men and women, environmental education, Personal Empowerment and Family Management, Women’s Empowerment, community development, health, formal education, recreation and sports. Originally established by Brit Olam, the center is now run by locally trained professional staff and operates independently. Child Day Care Center Brit Olam, in collaboration with the National Council of Volunteerism in Israel built a child day care center at a new resettlement for tsunami-affected populations from Galagodawatta, a village with a population of about 800 families. The center responded to the young children’s (ages 0-13) needs for a safe and nurturing environment that provided care and positive recreational activities while their parents worked to rebuild their lives and return to work.