In 2001 the first children, then not yet 11 years old, came to Home of Hope to flee a life as child soldiers or because nobody cared for them. They have grown into independent, well-educated adults. No longer a child soldier, but an accountant, bank employee, salesman or truck driver. Proud men and women who are role models for the young children who now live at Home of Hope.
At the start of the village in 2001, five children lived in a converted chicken run. If you visit Home of Hope now, you will find a real children’s village with seven houses and about 100 residents. Home of Hope now has an auditorium, a plantation, a medical clinic, a computer center, a library, a rehabilitation pool and a special school.
Giving children a loving home so that they can stand on their own two feet later. That is the goal of Home of Hope. Since 2001, more than 340 children have found a safe and warm home there. With understanding guidance and proper training. Our motto is therefore:
“You can’t change the whole world, but you can change the world of a child”
Home of Hope is a children’s home in the middle of Sri Lanka, close to the city of Kandy. It started in 2001 as a small home for five children, but has since grown into a real children’s village of 12.5 hectares where more than a hundred children of Tamil and Sinhalese descent find a safe home. In the beginning, it mainly concerned the reception of young child soldiers from the northern and eastern war zones. Now that the war is over, they are children found in prostitution, in prisons, or in other situations of neglect. Many of the children who find shelter at Home of Hope have faced abuse and violence in their young lives.
The village consists of various houses (dorms) where small groups of children live under the supervision of a housemother. A homely family atmosphere is created in the dorms. The children of Home of Hope have often been through terrible things. When they come to Home of Hope, they are scared and deeply sad. We give them the opportunity to be a child again. Cheerful and open.
Home of Hope is not a traditional children’s home. Our approach is characterized by loving guidance and good education, so that children can work on a bright future and learn to stand on their own feet in society. It is a success in itself if they dare to dream aloud about their future. Until those dreams come true, Home of Hope offers them a warm, loving and safe home.
The children stay in contact with their own family as much as possible. This reduces the step to return to their native region after their time at Home of Hope. Home of Hope prepares all children as much as possible for an independent life outside the home.
In addition to the houses where the children live, Home of Hope has an auditorium for joint meetings, a computer center and a library. There is also a medical clinic on site, where children from the area are treated. The clinic offers physiotherapy, psychomotor therapy (PMT), speech therapy and hydrotherapy in the rehabilitation pool. Since 2020, there is also a special school for children with a physical and / or mental disability.
How is all this funded? The funds for Home of Hope in Sri Lanka are brought together by Home of Hope NL: a Dutch ANBI foundation. The donations to Home of Hope NL are very diverse. Once or periodically, small or larger amounts, by private individuals or (family) funds: everything is possible and everything is necessary. The annual budget of Home of Hope in Sri Lanka is currently around 130,000 Euro per year
I run Home of Hope together with my wife Sharmini. I am the father of the children and a friend of the people in this area. Sharmini and I want to give all the children at Home of Hope a solid foundation for when they later become independent. We want to bring life to our children in all forms: spirit, soul and body. We ensure that they are allowed to develop everything. Most children come to Home of Hope without any foundation and we teach them to stand their ground in every situation. I talk, I advise, I listen carefully and I ask for advice. Many people come up with ideas for Home of Hope. Then I ask: would you like that for your own child? What would you do for your own child? We always approach the children as if they were our own children, whom we wish all the best.
I am the mother of the children and my great wish is that they grow up in a home with love, trust and security. At Home of Hope, every child is safe and loved. I want them to feel valuable and meaningful, with a future perspective that they can shape themselves. The matrons (house mothers) support me in the daily care of the children. But when the children have concerns, they come to me. I take care of their clothes, do the school talks, take them to the hospital, stimulate their talents, celebrate their birthdays, hug, laugh and cry with them. I love to keep in touch with the children when they are on their own two feet. I am very proud when they come by and tell them how they are doing. Our large, independent children can motivate the younger children the best. They say to the young people: take every opportunity that is offered here in terms of developing your talents and skills. And that happens! We are very grateful for that.
Rebecca Bijker, together with Alfy and Sharmini, forms the management of Home of Hope Sri Lanka and is the founder of the Home of Hope NL foundation.
“After my studies I volunteered in a children’s home in Sri Lanka. Due to the civil war, there was a need for shelter for child soldiers and this required a new home. Sharmini and Alfy were a dream couple to start a new project with and thanks to the financial support of my parents, Home of Hope was able to start. In 2001 the first five children found a safe home here. We have now grown into a place where more than 340 children have found a home. A project with facilities that benefit the entire community. A lot has changed in 20 years, but one thing has remained: my conviction that every child deserves a safe home.”