Quick facts about the Touch a Life with Hope Center:
- Ages served: 6 – 18
- Facility description: A community center comprising a dormitory, a kitchen and a community room. Some children stay at the Center, and some live with their parents in nearby neighborhoods.
- Education: Children attend local public schools. The curriculum features core academic subjects, including English. In Sri Lanka, the school year typically begins in early January and ends in mid-November. It is split into three sessions, marked by three-to-four week breaks in April and August.
- Nutrition and healthcare: Children who live at the Center receive three nutritious meals each day. Children’s health is closely monitored, and medical attention is provided as needed.
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.” 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, comprising diverse ethnic groups, languages and religions.
Despite its many advances, internal ethnic tensions remain active in Sri Lanka. In 1983, these culminated in 26 years of insurgencies and civil war, which, along with reports of corruption and widespread abuses of civil rights — 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 suburban town of Battaramulla, south of Colombo, is no exception to these maladies. Here, the Touch a Life with Hope Center serves as a beacon of hope. Founded in 1982, this community center operates out of a children’s home that was established by the Shilpa Trust, an organization dedicated to helping children in need. The Center provides children with a safe place to live or to gather to receive sponsorship support and an opportunity to rise above their difficult socioeconomic circumstances from which they come.
Sri Lanka Facts:
- Population: 20,950,041 (2018 est.)
- Languages Spoken: Sinhala, 70%, Tamil, 15%, with the majority of Sri Lankans are conversational in English
- Unemployment Rate: 4.4% (2018 est.)
- Poverty Rate: 4.1% (2016 est.)