Our Affiliated Project: Chrishanti Lama Sevana in Colombo, Sri Lanka
The island nation of Sri Lanka is located just east of India’s southern tip. It has been known by many names over the centuries, but it fittingly derives its current name from the Sinhalese words meaning “resplendent island.” Indeed, amidst its tropical rainforests, coastal plains and south-central highlands, Sri Lanka boasts the highest biodiversity density in Asia, with roughly a quarter of its thousands of species of plant life and mammals existing nowhere else on the planet.
Prehistoric settlements suggest that humans have also called this land home for thousands of years. Its strategic location made it an important part of the ancient Silk Road, and its deep ports were important during World War II. Today, in the wake of Portuguese, Dutch and British colonization, Sri Lanka maintains its rich and ancient cultural heritage including diverse ethnic groups, languages and religions. Despite its many advancements, internal ethnic tensions remain active in Sri Lanka. In 1983, they culminated into 26 years of insurgencies and civil war, which, along with reports of widespread abuse of civil rights and corruption — not to mention the devastating tsunami of 2004 — left the nation reeling. Despite a recovering economy, Sri Lanka is still plagued by widespread poverty and its devastating effects.
The Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, is no exception to these maladies. In one of the city’s small slums, Chrishanti Lama Sevana serves as a beacon of hope. This daycare center, whose name means “haven for children,” provides a safe place for children to come each day after school. Here, children receive nutritious food, medical care, educational support and loving guidance so that they may break the cycle of poverty and rise above the difficult socioeconomic circumstances from which they come.