A children’s village with 100 inhabitants and their carers: that takes quite a bit of effort. In addition to the care and facilities for the children, Home of Hope offers assistance to children and adults who live in the area. Read more about daily life in the children’s village here.
Home of Hope is led by Alfy and Sharmini Perera. This couple has been in charge of the children’s village since its foundation in 2001. Alfy and Sharmini are the father and mother figure for all children.Alfy is Sinhala and Sharmini is Tamil. There are still problems between the two population groups, so they set a good example with their marriage. Alfy and Sharmini jointly manage about 30 employees: housemothers, kitchen staff, drivers, medical staff and agricultural and administrative employees. Alfy takes care of the maintenance of the buildings and the land and does the major purchases. Sharmini trains the house mothers and she takes care of the mental and physical well-being of “her” children with heart and soul. She arranges everything related to the education of the children and she coordinates the kitchen and the clothing of the kids. The life of Alfy and Sharmini is 100 percent dedicated to the children of Home of Hope.
At Home of Hope there are seven different houses (dorms). The children live in groups of about twelve accompanied by a housemother (matron) in their own dorm. They sleep with two, maximum four, in one room. In this bedroom the children have their own bed and closet in which they can store their clothes and belongings. They learn from an early age various household tasks such as washing dishes, sweeping, fetching water, making beds, ironing, washing and keeping gardens. In this way they act as a family per group as much as possible.
At Home of Hope there is a lot of time for sports and games. When their homework is finished, the children can play outside to their heart’s content. The children’s village has a large sports field and a nice playground. During the weekend there are various activities, but there is also time to relax. The children often watch a movie in their dorm. They are also allowed to swim freely in the therapy pool. On Sundays there is a Sunday school and in the evening a church service in the auditorium. Sports and game days are also organized.
The auditorium plays a very important role in the children’s village. With a large stage and more than 100 seats, this is the place where meetings are held, performances are given, music is made and parties are celebrated.
Large quantities of rice, coconuts, vegetables and fruits are used for meals at Home of Hope. To be as self-sufficient as possible, Alfy has built a plantation with hundreds of coconut and banana trees. He has planted mango trees and vegetables are increasingly grown himself. Given the increased food prices in recent years, this provides real cost savings. In addition, anything that is not consumed by Home of Hope is sold locally. Home of Hope can use this income well.
Food is centrally prepared by a chef in Home of Hope’s large kitchen. It concerns 3 meals per day for approx. 130 people: quite a job! The kitchen was renovated in early 2020 to meet the requirements of the Sri Lankan government. The pantry is protected against rats and other vermin, the wood fireplaces have been moved outside to give the cook more fresh air and an insect-free area has been created where vegetables and meat can be cut. When dinner is ready, 2 children from each dorm come to collect the dishes. The children eat in their dorm and do their own dishes.
The Home of Hope children attend 5 different mainstream schools in the area. They are transported by bus that Home of Hope has purchased especially for this purpose. The school fees, school uniforms, books, notebooks and other materials: Sharmini ensures that everything is in perfect order. And she is personally present at the 10-minute conversations of all of her 100 children!
Online study center
During the corona pandemic, it became clear how much need there was at Home of Hope for a room with computers where online lessons can be taken, homework can be done and where you can study. With a wonderful donation from the Netherlands, we have built and furnished a space where all this is possible: the online study center. There are now quite a number of laptops there that the children of Home of Hope use intensively. Learning arrears were prevented as much as possible during the pandemic and the study center has now become an integral part of everyday life at Home of Hope.
In Sri Lanka, too, it is very important to develop skills that are required by a changing labor market. Good computer skills are crucial. Home of Hope has a computer center where our children and also the people from the area can get their basic computer skills.
The children of Home of Hope go to regular schools in the area as much as possible, but that is not for all kids. Fortunately, Home of Hope has had a special school since 2019, where special education is given to children with a mental and/or physical disability who cannot go to regular education. They are children from the Home of Hope area, but also children who live at Home of Hope itself.
The special school works very closely with the therapy center, where all students receive the therapy they need: physio, speech and cognitive behavioral therapy. The therapies are part of the daily curriculum at the special school. The combination of education and therapy provides the holistic care that these children so desperately need.
The special school receives a lot of guidance from the Netherlands, where a special needs teaching program has been set up with the help of one of our donors. Since mid-2020, the school has had its own building, which was built with a wonderful donation from one of our Dutch sponsors.
The Home of Hope library’s collection of books has grown considerably over the years. Thanks in part to generous donations, we have been able to purchase reading books, study books and picture books. The children have a choice of different languages: our books are in English, Sinhala and Tamil. The library is important for the development and study of the children. They go there with their dorm and can withdraw to read quietly: a nice outing!
Alfy and Sharmini wanted to improve the situation of children with mental and/or physical disabilities in the Home of Hope environment. These children in Sri Lanka are often completely kept away from the outside world and do not participate in any social life.
In 2009, the therapy center was built at Home of Hope, where children with disabilities receive physio, speech and cognitive behavioral therapy. The parents are actively involved in the therapy and learn to do simple exercises with their child at home. Together with the special school, the therapy center offers the children the holistic care they so need.