Akeley Wood School Project Volunteer Sri Lanka 2017
Our newest project
The dilapidated home where the disabled residents are of all ages ranging from 7 to 70 are their own carers
This is a home for physically and/or intellectually disabled, homeless people. Founded in 1964, the home takes care of 47 individuals between the ages of 7 and 75.
Home for the Disabled Homeless in Galle
The home is situated halfway between the home and Unawatuna Beach. I have been in contact with their office since 2015 to make it a project for VSL and to support them wherever we could. The present person in charge of this home is Mr Kumara who has been an inmate of the same place from childhood. He has demonstrated that willpower can overcome disability and is now an HR lawyer with a practice in Galle. Unfortunately, most of the other people do not fare so well.
The residents’ stories in this home are varied: some are abandoned by their families because of their disability, while others are discarded due to a lack of money. With limited staff and resources, residents have to take care of each other in their daily tasks. The youngest children have school in the morning but the other residents don’t really have a day structure except for the times they eat together, including tea times twice a day. As a volunteer you can help residents by contributing to their daily life; giving them something to get through the day like helping with creative activities and playing games. There are also possibilities for physiotherapists to practise with the disabled people. Residents take care of themselves and each other and, as a volunteer, you should not try to change this, but rather teach them how to do things better. It is important to leave the responsibility with the residents, because when volunteers leave, they have to do things for themselves.
The home was donated by a wealthy couple who lived in Galle in 1964 to be used in this way. The Tsunami of 2004 killed nearly 50 inmates inside the home as there wasn’t enough time to evacuate everyone. Every year we hold a memorial for the victims and, in January, ‘VSL’ generously contributed to a 17th memorial event that included a Buddhist Sermon and distributing alms. Though the place was originally created for disabled children, most of the children who became inmates didn’t have a family to go back to, or had been homeless. Consequently, you will find that man of these children are now in their 50s and have lived in the home all their lives.
Since the death of the couple who donated the home, more than 25 years ago, the home has been kept afloat by their continued benevolence and via a trustee. Today, however, the place is struggling financially with regard to maintenance as well as running costs. Since the home became a VSL project, we have stepped in to pay the monthly electricity and water bills.
The current sanitary facilities are shocking, as you can see from these images. We believe that, with Akeley’s help this year, we could make a real difference to their toilet facilities by providing more appropriate sanitary facilities for everyone, including the disabled.
In addition to their sanitary block issues, we have some great concerns about the roofs as most parts have been severely damaged and much of wood has rotted beyond further use. The roof could collapse when the monsoon rains start!
The following is the present status of section of the other sanitary block used by the ladies.
The old building behind the home is not in use as it was badly damaged from the Tsunami. This building still has debris from the Tsunami that has yet to be cleared. This section needs a total refurbishment to make it usable. It could easily provide more living facilities for disabled people and since we have a big boy group, we would like to clear it.
Teacher of English and Professional Tutor
Project Volunteer Sri Lanka Co-ordinator
Akeley Wood Senior School
Published on: 23rd March 2017