SOS Children's Village Piliyandala

photo: Alexander Gabriel

SOS Children's Village Piliyandala is situated on the outskirts of the city of Piliyandala, in Kesbewa. Piliyandala is about 20 km from the capital of Colombo. SOS Children's Village Piliyandala consists of 16 family houses, a community house and the necessary administrative buildings. There is an SOS Kindergarten, where up to 160 children both from the SOS Children's Village and from the neighbourhood can be taught in five group rooms. The SOS Social Centre provides counselling and child day care to the local community. Children from very poor families receive daily meals. The social centre also coordinates the local family strengthening programmes. There is an SOS Medical Centre, which includes a dental clinic. People from the neighbourhood can get medical treatment, and for pregnant women there is an antenatal clinic.

There are several SOS Youth Facilities around Piliyandala. SOS Youth Facilities usually consist of flats and houses where youngsters from the SOS Children's Villages move when they reach a certain age. With the support of qualified youth workers, the young people develop realistic perspectives for their future, learn to shoulder responsibility and increasingly make their own decisions. The SOS Youth Facilities in Piliyandala also include workshops for woodwork, metalwork, welding and electronics.

When the SOS Children's Village was built, there were hardly any schools in the Piliyandala area. There was a lack of teachers, and most children could only attend school for four or five years. In 1985, the SOS Hermann Gmeiner School was opened as a primary school. Some years later it was extended up to secondary level. The SOS Hermann Gmeiner School, which has a capacity of 850 students, is open to children from local families as well. It is considered a model school. Students can choose among four different streams: science, mathematics, commerce and arts. The children are taught in Singhalese but they all learn English as a foreign language. Subjects taught include Singhalese, Buddhism, Mathematics, English, Sciences, Social Studies, Music and Dance, Art, Agriculture, Business Administration and Domestic Science. The school has its own library and gym. Students can participate in various sports, such as volleyball and football. Lessons usually start at 7:45 a.m. and end at 1:45 p.m.

An SOS Vocational Training Centre was opened at Piliyandala in 1997. SOS mothers and staff are trained there. The centre also offers different programmes for young people. It consists of several classrooms and accommodation for the participants. Retired SOS mothers can stay at a special home, which was built next to the SOS Children's Village.

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