RAINBOW CENTRE SRI LANKA EMERGENCY APPEAL
SRI LANKA’S ECONOMIC COLLAPSE LEADING TO A HUMANITARIAN CRISIS
The poor and vulnerable in Sri Lanka are facing starvation and a humanitarian emergency during the worst economic crisis in the country’s history. Basic foods have become unaffordable or unavailable. The price of staples, such as rice and dhal, has risen to a level where Rainbow Centre families’ incomes are less than the cost of food needed to survive. For example, a day labourer earns as little as LKR 750, if work is available, whereas the price of a kilo of rice has risen from LKR 99 to more than LKR 250 and is expected to hit LKR 500 at the current rates of inflation which are causing the prices of goods and food to double weekly. Fuel is unavailable.
Worse still, there is no hope in sight. The country is effectively bankrupt and unable to afford to import food and petrol having run out of the foreign exchange reserves necessary to pay for vitally needed goods. Farmers have been unable to afford the seeds and fertilisers to grow food this year; last year’s crop failed after the government banned pesticides. Lengthy daily power cuts compound the misery.
The Rainbow Centre has faced occasional closures at times of general strikes and regular mass demonstrations against the government. The level of violence used by government forces has seen peaceful demonstrators, including women and children, being beaten and crowds in fear of survival pushed back by tear gas. The levels of violence are escalating and there is great fear about what is to come next.
THE RAINBOW CENTRE’S VITAL ROLE
The Rainbow Centre is a haven of happiness, security and hope during these times of severe economic deprivation. It is able to provide all of its families facing hunger with food, medicine and loving support. It remains a place of joy for its children and all of its employees.
Rainbow Centre families and students number several hundred. The Rainbow Centre is enabling them to survive and thrive. As a result of careful planning, bulk buying and a rigorous programme of scouring the area for supplies by its hard-working management team, the Centre is functioning well. The Centre’s management team has been able to secure supplies of basic food, diesel for the school bus and limited access to medicines, which otherwise would have been unobtainable.
The Centre is supplying food ration packs to many families, who would otherwise have had nothing, and it continues to provide the students at the Centre with ample supplies of nutritious food. The Rainbow Centre remains a much-loved sanctuary with excellent attendance levels.
In order for the Rainbow Centre to function its daily operating costs have risen significantly and are expected to continue to increase. The generous support of donors is more important than ever.
NO GAS NO PROBLEM – TRADITIONAL COOKING METHODS RETURN TO THE RAINBOW CENTRE – HOME GROWN PRODUCE
As a result of the foresight of its CEO, the Rainbow Centre planted vegetables in its grounds which had been cleared as part of its recent, major refurbishment. The vegetable garden is currently supplying all the staff and children with lunch for two days a week as well as producing banana and mango juice on a daily basis.
THE SOCIAL WELFARE IMPACT OF THE CRISIS
There has been a surge in incidents of serious domestic abuse, poor mental and physical health, with children, all too often, being the victims of parental inability to cope with appalling living conditions and increased levels of homelessness.
The Centre’s highly dedicated Welfare Department closely monitors each child’s health and wellbeing in order to ensure that all their needs are being addressed. This is a huge challenge and there are many highly distressing cases. The numbers of families in need of food parcels are increasing rapidly, while the cost and availability of items such as soap, which has risen by 250%, making it an unaffordable luxury.
The Rainbow Centre is often a place of last resort. Destitute single mothers are offered employment at the Centre as gardeners and cleaners in order to ensure that high levels of hygiene are maintained as Covid is still a threat. The highly successful sewing scheme is attracting growing numbers and seeing a radical improvement in the health of mothers suffering severe mental illness, which conventional medical treatment has been unable to address.
The Rainbow Centre’s key aim is to provide children living in desperate poverty with an excellent education which will ultimately enable them to access secure employment. The Centre provides groundbreaking life-skills education, including exposure to all the employment opportunities available beyond the small world of the slums, with the aim of ensuring that every student is able to pass the public exams necessary for future success.
During this time of crisis, the numbers of children in need of support is increasing rapidly. In April 2022, the first batch of deeply impoverished three to five year-olds was admitted to the Centre’s pre-school, following extensive background check-ups to ensure that priority is given to those most in need.
During the next three months, the number of children offered places at the Centre will increase from the current level of 150 to a maximum of 200, without compromising the current standards of excellent care. This reflects not only the impact of the economic crisis but also the recently-completed expansion of the Centre’s facilities, with the increased number of classrooms and a continuous process of teacher training and recruitment.
The Centre educates children aged from three to 18 in different classes according to age with separate additional classes held for children with special needs. Professional tutors provide expertise in a broad range of subjects. New initiatives, such as the introduction of a Saturday school in 2022/2023, will lead to greater academic success and provide more time for the children both to study and to play sport.
The Centre is proud of its policy of providing its students with loving care and individual attention. Children can function despite serious trauma and, having adjusted to a classroom environment, are able to concentrate, study, think independently and embrace creativity. The most senior members of its staff maintain an open-door policy and are kept busy by visiting children – some seeking the reassurance of affection and hugs – others eager to be supported by loving and wise advice. Every child at the Rainbow Centre knows that they are valued.
SUPPORT IS VITAL IN THIS TIME OF GREAT NEED
To enable the Rainbow Centre to continue its vital work, please donate through JustGiving http://www.justgiving.com/rcsl/donate or CAF https://www.cafonline.org and search for the Rainbow Centre Sri Lanka. Alternatively, please make direct bank transfers or standing order payments to: The Rainbow Centre Sri Lanka; a/c no. 71647431; sort code 40-04-09; HSBC Bank, 16 King Street, London WC2E 8JF; IBAN - GB91HBUK40040971647431; BIC11 - HBUKGB4106D; BIC8 - HBUKGB4B. Or, please make cheques payable to “The Rainbow Centre Sri Lanka” and send them to Spring Pond House, Midhurst, Sussex GU29 0QH.
The Rainbow Centre Sri Lanka is a UK-registered charity and a Sri Lankan NGO – for further information please go to www.rainbowcentresrilanka.com