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The Challenges

The children of prisoners are a forgotten group suffering for the crimes of their parents. They are ostracized by society and neighbourhood, rejected by classmates. They live in a negative environment.

What did the Sisters do?

They set up this project to help the children. To enable these children to cope, a scholarship is given to help them to do well in their studies. Each child’s scholarship is provided by a sponsor who befriends the child. This befriending gives the children an opportunity to make friends with a sponsor from a different social group.

Who manages/administers the programme?

Two Good Shepherd sisters and Good Shepherd Mission Partners.

Who is the major target group?

The main target group is the children of prisoners studying from Grade Six to the end of University. The parents of all these children must be in prison – originally they must be in the “Welikada” – the largest prison in the country. However, if they are transferred to another prison, or released from prison we still continue to help them. We consider that our commitment is to the child and not necessarily to the prisoner. Who benefits and how do they benefit?

The following children benefit:

  • » Primary beneficiaries are children of prisoners condemned to death (though the death sentence has not been carried out in Sri Lanka since 1976).
  • » Children of prisoners who are convicted for life.

How many people are assisted?

At present 280 children from all part of Sri Lanka including north and east.

Target is to reach 300 children, and that will be our capacity.

Motivation and core values

The Good Shepherd came to save the ‘lost sheep’ and these children and their families are rejected by society because one person has committed a serious crime and been convicted for it. We connect with them irrespective of their religion or ethnic background, we befriend them, give them a place in society through a good education. Also we build a relationship between the child and the sponsor by letter writing and other connection.

What outcomes are achieved?

Since education is free in Sri Lanka from Year One to the end of University degree, it is something deeply appreciated by the people. Our literacy level is in the 90s for both sexes. School attendance is compulsory until 14 years of age. All textbooks are provided free, school uniforms are provided too. However children need money for all the stationery, extra classes in some subjects and travel. This project provides this additional support.

Each year a ‘family-day’ is organized that brings the children, guardian and the prisoner together.

How is the programme evaluated?

Annually we get the principal of the school to fill an evaluation sheet that shows the progress or lack of it. Also there are the public examination results. For the last 10 years of the existence of this project we have some of our past students doing extremely well in society, having passed their University studies and now holding high positions.

How does it contribute to the Millennium Development Goals?

It ensures that no child is deprived of education due to lack of funding or focus. Also studies show that when children are given such scholarships for betterment they receive greater focus and respect from the school and society.


  • » Funding for the programme.
  • » Finding new sponsors.

What would make the project more effective?

Ensuring that there is sufficient number of sponsors (both corporate and individual).


The Challenges

It was a bright day for those celebrating Valentine’s Day, but a gloomy evening that somehow expressed the pain and agony of women and children who are treated with violence. ‘Feeling for the other’ is one of the best qualities that are inherent in all women. Though they are voiceless in some parts of this violent world, they sense the possibilities of making it a better world.

Yes, it was a day of unity, of advocacy, a day that touched the hearts of our people. We joined hands with ‘Mothers and Daughters of Sri Lanka’ a group which works towards a better future for women and children. A good number of Good Shepherd sisters both from Sri Lanka and Pakistan, novices and candidates dared to speak out against domestic violence, sexual and physical abuse and emotional exploitation of women.

In Sri Lanka many women are battered and raped, sometimes even killed daily. Reports state that five girls are raped every day in Sri Lanka. But are we aware of and sensitive to the unreported sexual violence of women in our motherland?

The Message

I was a volunteer myself in demanding an end to this violence on the 14th of February through the One Billion Rising campaign which mobilized men and women across the world. “Good men beat eggs at home”, “I am a guy and I respect women”, “Don’t tell me how to dress, but tell them how to behave” were some of the slogans carried by young girls and boys. We were happy to observe that there were men and boys who stood there supporting this rising.

A Ray of Hope

Violence against women begins with violence against girls. In many countries this begins even before birth. Estimates suggest that there are more than 100 million ‘missing women’ as a result of sex-selective abortions. We stood there signifying a ray of hope that justice will be done at the commission on the status of women as the world gathers at United Nations Headquarters for the largest–ever UN assembly to end violence against women and girls.


The Challenges

Good Shepherd Sisters began this project 'Vaigarai', meaning New Dawn during the time of war. At the height of the conflict, people were asked to relocate to the safe zone of the country. They were settled in temporary refugee camps. The sisters visited the residents of the camps regularly to bring a presence of healing. They found especially young people who were:

  • » Psychologically, emotionally, and physically drained.
  • » Dealing with the loss of many things in life.
  • » Uncertain of their future.
  • » Deprived of education and skills training.
  • » Holding on to their faith and hoping for light.

What did the Sisters do?

They opened a residential service for young women and girls. At the beginning the young women were the ex-combatants of war and those who were badly affected by the war. When the war ended, the service expanded to accept young women from all over Sri Lanka who may have been:

    • » Physically, psychologically and emotionally broken.
    • » Orphaned due to the war
Living in unhealthy and unsafe environments, having lost their homes and property.
Experiencing economic crisis.

The project has three phases

  • 1. An educational programme for school drop outs and those who desire to continue their higher education.
  • 2. A skills training programme – computer, language skills, tailoring, beauty culture, bag making, cooking.
  • 3. A Livelihood programme – income generating programme.

Who manages/administers the programme?

The sisters with the support of mission partners manage the programme.

How many people are assisted?

30 girls following the educational programme
60 young women in the skill training programme
25 young women in the livelihood programme.
The girls and young women are between the ages of 15 – 25 years.

Motivation and Core Values

To the Sisters, the girls and young women seemed as vulnerable as sheep without a shepherd, desiring new life and empowerment. They were lost. Their rights and dignity as persons were denied. They needed a place of safety to allow them to find themselves once again, renewed belief in their worth as persons and a sense of hope for the future. They needed an environment of respect, dignity and compassion.

What outcomes are achieved?

  • » Education and skills training gives new capacities, renewed confidence and empowerment to face the future.
  • » Livelihood programme offers the possibility of self sufficiency.
  • » Personal reconciliation with their own stories may enable them to be reconciled with those who have hurt them, and those to whom they feel distanced and anger.
  • As participants come from all parts of the country, they are enabled to experience the joy and challenges of inclusion, moving beyond boundaries.

How is the programme evaluated?

Through a process of regular evaluation, feedback of the beneficiaries as well as those they work with helps to measure the needs and effectiveness of the programme.

The observation of the sisters and the continual monitoring of the lay staff enable effectiveness to be measured.

Follow-up programmes and referral services are achieved by networking with other organizations. These help to assess needs and update the programme for better effectiveness and benefit.

How does it contribute to the Millennium Development Goals?

With opportunities for education and skills training participants are able to equip themselves, and the livelihood programme offers the opportunity for employment and stability to face the future.

Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger,

Achieving universal primary education,

Promoting gender equality and empowering women.

What would make the project more effective?

A well trained staff will enable the ministry to be more effective.

This will also mean financial stability.


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