The Annual Report for 2022 presented by ECSAT ... with some of the photographs attached to this report & highlighting emphasis imposed by The Editor, Thuppahi
An Award in 2022: The Programme Director Roshan Samarawickrama is seen receiving the award on behalf of ECSAT for The Best Skill Development Centre for Children with Disabilities in Sri Lanka from the State Minister of Primary Health Care Dr. Sudarshani Fernandopulle. After 16 years ECSAT received this recognition which added great value to the reputation of the organisation.
Roshan Samarawickrama received the Vocational Service Excellent Award 2022 from the Rotary Club of Colombo for promoting the highest professional and ethical standards in your vocation and in recognition of outstanding commitment & extraordinary Service to Humanity especially during the covid 19 pandemic period.
Covid 19 Pandemic
The covid 19 pandemic prevented beneficiaries from attending our three Community Centres at Galle, Matara and Hikkaduwa in April, May and June. During these three months, the Programme Director organised staff capacity training online and ways to support families during this difficult time. Parents were very protective towards their children during the pandemic.
From July, the staff started online sessions for beneficiaries although we were aware that some families had no access to internet facilities. We were not expecting an online platform to be a success but parents enjoyed this facility. Unfortunately, some parents had no smart phones and no internet access and their children were unable to join. At times, teachers and parents lost their signal. Staff included study packs for the activities which had to be collected from the Centre because staff were unable to visit homes during the lockdown.
In January 2022 we were able to continue face to face activities at our three Community Centres.
During the pandemic we maintained close contact with our international and individual sponsors to keep them informed about our different ways of supporting beneficiaries during the pandemic. We appreciated their support and understanding.
Education funded by Kindermissionwerk
Classes were disrupted due to the covid 19 pandemic. Classes at the Centres were closed on April 9th and restarted on July 12th . They were closed again on August 20th and restarted on October 4th up to April. While the Centres were closed, teachers conducted lessons online such as Sinhala, Sensory Skills, Mathematics, Environment and Speech Activities for children in Galle, Hikkaduwa and Matara. All the children participated in the classes in small groups according to a timetable
In December there were reassessments for 20 children. Due to the disruption in classes and the novelty of online working, some children had a lack of education knowledge and showed negative behaviour and most children had motor skill development delay. ECSAT decided to do reassessments again after the covid 19 pandemic.
A parents meeting was held in October for Galle & Hikkaduwa Centers via online.
ECSAT started to work with Olcott School with the permission of the Galle Divisional Education Department in 2019. The Olcott School principal first selected 40 children between 6 to 9 Grades for an assessment and home visit. The selected categories were families with a low income, single parents and children with a disability. After the initial assessment, Olcott School teachers selected 20 children for the Education Framework classes. ECSAT referred children to doctors and counsellors as appropriate. Attendance at school was restricted by the government due to the covid 19 pandemic. In August, online classes were started for 04 children. Other students did not have access to internet facilities. On January 10th ECSAT held a team building activity and started activities face to face.
ECSAT started to work with All-Saints College with the permission of the Southern Province Education Department. All-Saints College principal selected the group of Grade 09 students who had problems with mathematics. ECSAT staff carried out home visits and initial assessments, after which the principal selected 20 children for the Education Framework. Due to the students preparing for O Level examinations and a country lockdown, we were unable to continue classes for the majority of this year.
Vocational Training funded by LemonAid & ChariTea: There are 11 boys and 13 girls in Galle Centre, 06 girls at Hikkaduwa and 15 boys and 12 girls in Matara Centre, all aged between 15 -35 years. The vocational teachers aim to develop their ability for their chosen profession.
During the lockdown months of the covid 19 pandemic, Galle, Hikkaduwa and Matara vocational teachers conducted online classes in sewing, gardening, cookery, life skills and handicraft. It was not possible to conduct beauty culture classes online because they needed face to face contact. Parents and children gave their support to lessons and parents gave feedback saying they enjoyed getting the idea how their children learn. Our vocation team aimed to give financial support for children and their families.
Therapy: Therapy is a face to face treatment and it was difficult to conduct this online. However, staff monitored beneficiaries, checked that children were carrying out exercises and gave emotional support to families. Once restrictions eased, beneficiaries were able to return to the Community Centres for sensory skills activities. ECSAT has 95 children who receive therapeutic services on a one-to-one basis through weekly appointments. Their disabilities include Down’s syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, microcephaly and myopathy. We were unable to resume the Saturday classes at Galle supported by the physiotherapist Mr. Deepthi due to covid restrictions and transport problems for beneficiaries.
Outreach: Due to the pandemic, staff were unable to visit homes and carry out Outreach services for the 28 children with severe disabilities. Once restrictions eased, staff rescheduled these visits with the parent’s support and encouraged parents to bring their children to Galle Centre. Parents gave positive feedback about this arrangement because they had an opportunity to go to a supportive environment outside their home and meet people with similar problems and experiences.
Shared Care funded by Australian Direct Aid Programme
This project was started in 2019 and ECSAT provides community support for 30 young adults with severe learning difficulties and their mothers, and holistic care through shared caring, vocational training and more. A strong emphasis is placed on providing deep support for a few beneficiaries and having a strong emphasis on social inclusion. Also, ECSAT mainly focused this project to identify community leaders, young adults with disabilities to have improved capabilities and life and social skills.
ECSAT organised training sessions for 13 mothers to develop their vocational skills. Training sessions included making vegetable pakora, bags, compost, brooms, baby frocks, batik, gift bags, cushion covers, stencils, watalappan, yoghurt, tie dying and cement cases.
Also, 13 mothers received materials for starting their self-employment business. The following are examples of materials received; sealer machine, polythene, machine motor, poplin pieces, serviette materials, cambrella materials, steamer, frying pan, net for tea plant nursery, sewing machine (used), brown paper bundles, flower pots, long water hose, and hand shovel.
Caring for the Carers funded by Australia Volunteer Impact Grant
This project is aimed for the mothers who are really housebound with their children who are severely disabled. The mothers have limited opportunities to connect with the social world. Through this project ECSAT can provide mental and health wellbeing and mental relaxation activities for the mothers.
Each Tuesday and Thursday, ECSAT provided Zumba and Yoga sessions for 22 mothers who participated in each session. ECSAT conducted a total of 25 Zumba sessions and 25 Yoga sessions. Also, we provided 09 awareness raising sessions. The feedback from the mothers was very positive and 06 mothers were delighted they had lost weight.
Dharma Deshana & Bodhi Poojawa: ECSAT is an inclusive organisation and supports Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and Muslims. Due to our catchment area, 85% of our families are Buddhist and took part in the online religious sessions during the lockdown times. The parents’ feedback was positive saying they were connected and given emotional support.
On 24th September ECSAT vocational teachers organised Dharma Deshana via zoom technology with the Rev. Nakiyadeniye Gnanuthuthara of Galle Weliwatta Wijayananda Temple. ECSAT beneficiaries, their parents & staff members participated in this programme.
On 20th October ECSAT teachers conducted Bodi Pooja with the Rev. Nakiyadeniye Gnanuththra in response to the request of parents. Parents appreciated this kind of support because all family members could participate in the programme.
Supporters: We value and appreciate all our supporters, locally, nationally and internationally. Without you we would be unable to continue our work. It has been a very difficult year for everyone and your ongoing support in these difficult times is heart-warming and vital.
Visit from Friends of ECSAT: It was such a pleasure to visit ECSAT in February. The trustees at Friends of ECSAT have visited many times, some for extended periods, but clearly that has been difficult during covid times.
It was so interesting to see how services were being resumed following lockdown and great to see a buzz again in the Galle centre. The thing that really impressed me was how the staff and beneficiaries have adopted remote teaching and support. To see them working together successfully, on smart phones etc, was truly amazing. Time and time again, they show their resilience in difficult times.
But how times can change. Just a few weeks on and Sri Lanka finds itself in turmoil again – and ECSAT faces a new set of challenges, trying to cope with civil unrest and a huge cost of living crisis. I have no doubt that ECSAT will bounce back – as it always does.
If any readers are interested to find out more about Friends of ECSAT, and what we do to support our friends in Sri Lanka, please feel free to get in touch – and as always, thank you to our regular supporters and donors.
Christmas Gifts: ECSAT received some financial donations through a local fund-raising campaign organised by ECSAT staff to provide Christmas gifts. We chose stationery items that children need for their education.
Pyumi’s Big Day: Piyumi Perera – Vocational Training Project Coordinator married to Roshan Wickramasinghe. The ECSAT family participated on her big day. We all wish Piyumi and Roshan a happy wedded life and a blissful future.
Lalani`s New Baby Arrival: Lalani Priyadarshani, ECSAT senior Special Education Teacher gave a birth to a baby boy on the 8th of December 2021. She is on her maternity leave and the ECSAT family wish Lalani and her newly arrived angel a healthy and happy life ahead!
Board: We welcome two new members to our Board. Dr. Nayana Liyanaarchchi is a Consultant Paediatrician at Karapitiya Teaching Hospital and working as a Senior Lecturer to the Faculty of Medicine, Ruhunu University Miss Yelani Dias who is an Interior Designer working for SSJ Associate.
One response to “ECSAT’s Charitable Work with Disabled Children Secures Awards in 2022”
Well deserved kudos for Roshan Samarawickrema and the Rotary Club for the work done with the disabled.