Friends of Prisoners' Children

Families celebrate together in a prison

On 8 January 2017 all of the 265 children sponsored by Friends of Prisoners Children and their guardians (usually the mother) were invited from all over the country to the Colombo Welikade Prison -  to spend the day with the parent in prison.  FPC catered for 800 people in total, and the day was a glorious success.

 

Click here for the story and photos

Click here - Family Day in Colombo Welikade Prison 2017

 

Read about the Family Day in the prison, organised in 2016

Click here - Family Day - 4 September 2016

 

Supporting Vocational Training Programmes in the prison 2017

Click here - http://www.goodshepherd-asiapacific.org.au/project/226

 

The story of 'Friends of Prisoners' Children'

The children of prisoners are a forgotten group suffering for the crimes of their parents.  They are ostracized by society and neighbourhood, rejected by classmates.  They live in a negative environment.

What did the Sisters do? 

They set up this project to help the children.  To enable these children to cope, a scholarship is given to help them to do well in their studies. Each child’s scholarship is provided by a sponsor who befriends the child. This befriending gives the children an opportunity to make friends with a sponsor from a different social group.

Who manages/administers the programme?

Two Good Shepherd sisters and Good Shepherd Mission Partners.

Who is the major target group?

The main target group is the children of prisoners studying from Grade Six to the end of University. The parents of all these children must be in prison – originally they must be in the “Welikada” – the largest prison in the country.  However, if they are transferred to another prison, or released from prison we still continue to help them. We consider that our commitment is to the child and not necessarily to the prisoner.

Who benefits and how do they benefit?

 The following children benefit:

  • Primary beneficiaries are children of prisoners condemned to death (though the death sentence has not been carried out in Sri Lanka since 1976).

  • Children of prisoners who are convicted for life.

How many people are assisted? 

At present 280 children from all part of Sri Lanka including north and east.

Target is to reach 300 children, and that will be our capacity.

Motivation and core values

The Good Shepherd came to save the ‘lost sheep’ and these children and their families are rejected by society because one person has committed a serious crime and been convicted for it.  We connect with them irrespective of their religion or ethnic background, we befriend them, give them a place in society through a good education.  Also we build a relationship between the child and the sponsor by letter writing and other connection.

What outcomes are achieved?

Since education is free in Sri Lanka from Year One to the end of University degree, it is something deeply appreciated by the people.  Our literacy level is in the 90s for both sexes.  School attendance is compulsory until 14 years of age.  All textbooks are provided free, school uniforms are provided too.  However children need money for all the stationery, extra classes in some subjects and travel. This project provides this additional support.

Each year a ‘family-day’ is organized that brings the children, guardian and the prisoner together.

How is the programme evaluated? 

Annually we get the principal of the school to fill an evaluation sheet that shows the progress or lack of it.  Also there are the public examination results.  For the last 10 years of the existence of this project we have some of our past students doing extremely well in society, having passed their University studies and now holding high positions. 

How does it contribute to UN Sustainable Development Goals?

It ensures that no child is deprived of education due to lack of funding or focus.  Also studies show that when children are given such scholarships for betterment they receive greater focus and respect from the school and society. 

Challenges

  • Funding for the programme.

  • Finding new sponsors.

What would make the project more effective?

Ensuring that there is sufficient number of sponsors (both corporate and individual).