When the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami struck Batticaloa, on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka, the waves were higher than the tallest coconut trees lining the beaches. The damage and trauma caused by the tsunami compounded the hardship that residents had already suffered during 20 years of civil war between the Government and Tamil Tigers. Many youth have had their education severely disrupted by the tsunami and war, and without an adequate education or skills, most youth struggle to obtain employment.
ChildFund built eight career guidance centres and organised training for 315 youth, who chose courses such as computer skills, English language, machinery operation and hospitality. After one year, 206 of the youth had had their lives transformed and were in steady employment.
Vijita lives with her mother and her four year old son, who she struggled to support on her own. Vijita attended a job fair organised by ChildFund and was assisted in preparing a CV and applying for jobs. She was successful at getting a job cutting and polishing precious stones, and was given a bicycle by ChildFund so she can cycle to work.
Vijita says the conditions at her workplace are great and she now has a bright future ahead of her. Her mum now looks after her son during the day and they are able to afford good food and milk for him, and medical care when necessary.
Thudikara, 21 years old, heard about ChildFund’s training at a meeting at his Youth Club. It had always been his dream to use heavy machinery but it was too expensive to get training in Colombo so he had never had a job. Thudikara received a month of training and he now operates machinery for harvesting crops.
"It has changed my life and my family are very proud of me", he told ChildFund staff. Thudikara has bought a motorbike for his family with his savings and is now able to help his four siblings to attend school.
This project is supported by the New Zealand Aid Programme. For more information about ChildFund's work in Sri Lanka, visit the Sri Lanka country page. Or to sponsor a Sri Lankan child, click here.