fbpx
1800 998 122Contact

Empowering People with Disabilities (Sri Lanka)

People with disabilities are some of the most vulnerable people in Sri Lanka. Without support, disabilities can become a huge barrier to accessing appropriate education, employment and full participation in community life. Because of this, people with disabilities are up to five times more likely to live below the poverty line.

Some people never get the support they need to truly thrive.

That was nearly the story for Raj, a Tamil man who grew up on Sri Lanka’s West Coast. From an early age, his parents knew he was different because he couldn’t speak as well as other children and his teachers said he couldn’t understand their lessons and instructions.

His parents became worried and confused. Without adequate schooling, how could Raj get a job? Who would look after him when they were old?

Not long before he was due to start high school, Raj was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Local disability organisation Deaf Link became aware of the family and offered Raj a place in a disability-inclusive class in their school nearby.

Deaf Link is a partner of Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) NGO UnitingWorld, providing access to education for children with disabilities and occupational training to adults with disabilities.

Purpose-made for children like Raj, the class provided a place for him to feel included and valued while he learnt the skills he would need to succeed throughout his life.

He remembers it fondly. “It was good, better. I got to do sport and dance! I got to talk more,” said Raj.

Once he graduated, Deaf Link helped Raj find work. They know that education can only take you so far if you do not have connections that can lead to opportunities.

After being approached by Deaf Link, a mechanic agreed to take Raj on as an apprentice and for the past two years has been teaching him the tools of the trade. Raj now proudly demonstrates his welding prowess, chats with regular customers and jokes with his supervisor throughout the working week.

“We know what a difference we can make when we work together to support these families, and how much potential people with disabilities have,” said Rev Gnanarajah, who founded Deaf Link after his own son was born deaf.

Rev Gnanarajah can confirm Raj still loves to dance at every opportunity.

This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) and impacted the lives of 1,370 people with disabilities in Sri Lanka in FY 2020-21.

Thank you ANCP and our supporters for making this life-changing work possible!

Darshi was born without hearing in an area of Sri Lanka’s west coast which was devastated by the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. The population are mostly Tamil, and they’ve worked hard to recover and build a better life for their kids. But people with disabilities are up to five times more likely to live in poverty. They represent the most vulnerable group in the world.

Darshi’s parents were understandably worried about her future.

The Methodist Church of Sri Lanka, through Deaf Link, are committed to overcoming extreme poverty by advocating for structural changes in their communities and equipping people with disability to take control of their own lives.

They don’t believe in charity. They believe in long-lasting change, at all levels and by all members of society. Your gifts, combined with investment from the Australian Government, are helping make it happen.

Deaf Link invited Darshi to take part in a disability inclusion class – rare in many parts of Sri Lanka. All the children in the class use international sign language to communicate with one another and here Darshi discovered not just the power of a community, but a love of dance and talent for art.

When we met her last year, she told us she hopes to be a teacher in a class similar to her own, where she wants to give other children with disability the chance to succeed.

You can give Darshi and others like her a hand so they can go on to change their worlds. Right now, your donation can have up to six times the impact beating poverty and building hope.*

Your tax-deductible donation will help provide urgent resources for our partners in Sri Lanka, India, Papua New Guinea and more as they work against the pull of poverty, which is the strongest it’s been in decades due to COVID-19. You can read here about exactly how it will go up to six times as far to build hope and beat poverty.


*How your gift can go up to six times as far

UnitingWorld is a valued partner of the Australian Government, receiving funding each year to carry out poverty alleviation, gender equality and climate change projects overseas.

Every donation you make to this appeal will be combined with funding from the Australian Government to reach more people. We have committedto contribute $1 for every $5 we receive from the government, which means your gift can go up to six times as far helping us extend the reach of our programs.