Transition to adulthood
In January 1999, the site for the fifth SOS Children's Village in Sri Lanka, situated in the town of Monaragala, was donated to SOS Children's Villages by the Sri Lankan government. Construction started in August of the same year. Five family houses had been completed by November 2000, when the first children moved into the new SOS Children's Village together with their SOS mothers – who provide the loving parental care these children would otherwise lack.
The village consists of 12 family houses, a community centre and the necessary administrative buildings. There is an SOS Kindergarten, where up to 120 children from both the SOS Children's Village and the local community can be taught in four classrooms. School-age children visit the state school. The SOS Social Centre provides community support, health counselling, general counselling and psychological support.
Young people usually move from the SOS Children's Village to an SOS Youth Facility when they start participating in a vocational training course or attending an upper school around the age of 14. Before this project, the Youth Facility in Monaragala consisted of three houses for young people, the youth leader's house and a community building.
Monaragala also encompasses an SOS Vocational Training Centre, where up to 150 young people can participate in training programmes. Opened in 2006, the centre consists of several classrooms, a library, and a multi-purpose hall.
The overarching objective of the project was to assist young people in becoming self-reliant adults and to enable them to develop a positive outlook and realise their full potential. Specifically, it entailed the establishment and early operation of a new Youth Facility in Monaragala to accommodate the growing number of young people in need of its programmes.
The Swiss Re Foundation supplied funds to purchase, extend and equip the new Youth Facility and to run it in its first three years. With the support of qualified youth workers, the residents of the SOS Youth Facility in Monaragala participate in an educational programme that encompasses academic subjects, extracurricular activities and life skills training in areas such as meal preparation and manual labour. Attendance and progress are monitored closely, and course and school examinations are administered regularly.
The programme helps young people develop realistic perspectives for their future, learn to shoulder responsibility and increasingly make their own decisions. They are encouraged to develop team spirit and strengthen contacts with relatives and friends as well as with relevant authorities and potential employers. Appropriate health facilities are also provided.
The gradual shift away from family toward more independent living is a big step for any young person. This is why SOS Children’s Villages situated Monaragala’s new Youth Facility in the same environs as the village, so that residents would not be uprooted any more than necessary and could attend the state secondary school with their circle of friends from the village.