In response to the escalating need for psychosocial care for survivors of child abuse across Sri Lanka, LEADS recently launched its Child Sponsorship programme through which its patrons and well-wishers can now sponsor holistic therapeutic care for young survivors of child abuse receiving support through LEADS’ centres in the Northern, Western and Uva Provinces of Sri Lanka.

Media reports in the past year highlighted rising incidents of child abuse and cruelty, bringing to light the plight of children who were affected during the initial period of lockdown imposed by state authorities to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement by child rights group ECPAT Sri Lanka, they expressed concerns over a 33% increase child abuse reported during the curfew period in March 2020, as documented by the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA). A joint statement issued by UNICEF and the NCPA noted that the proportion of child cruelty cases, rose from 10% to 40% during the 3-week period of 16 March – 7 April 2020.

It is in this context of increased concern for the well-being of children that LEADS launches its Child Sponsorship initiative with the aim of providing restorative care for survivors of child abuse throughout the country. During its service of over 38 years to the nation, LEADS has been among the few non-governmental organisations that provide support for survivors of child abuse. Through its team of mental health experts and legal practitioners, LEADS ensures that the child receives counselling and therapy, legal aid, reintegration support and follow-up services, including a long-term family strengthening plan that ensures that the child grows up in an environment conducive to their well-being.

The newly-launched sponsorship initiative gives the public an opportunity to join with LEADS in restoring lives of survivors of child abuse. Patrons and well-wishers can now provide financial support towards legal aid, reintegration support, basic and logistical expenses with LKR 3,750 covering the per child cost for a period of one month. LEADS’ online platform facilitates donations in US Dollars, Euros, Sterling Pounds or Sri Lankan Rupees as either a one-time donation or a recurring-payment.

In his statement at the launch of the Child Sponsorship Programme, the Chief Executive Officer of LEADS, Mr. Monroe Jayasuriya, expressed LEADS’ commitment to intervene in situations of despair that have a direct impact on the lives of children. “…Safeguarding Children is at the very heart of our work here at LEADS” stated Mr. Jayasuriya. “Our team works tirelessly to create safer spaces for children through its interventions in preventing abuse, harassment and neglect of children.” Mr. Jayasuriya appealed to the public to join hands with LEADS in this initiative. “We launch our Child Sponsorship initiative with the hope that you too will partner with LEADS and help us reach the children who most need our help – in the hope that you will join with us by sponsoring a child and safeguarding their tomorrow!”

LEADS is a local non-governmental organisation established in 1983. As an agency dedicated to creating safer spaces and brighter futures for the children of Sri Lanka, its work is integrated in recognising the child as a part of a family, community and the nation. LEADS works holistically towards the best interest of the child at national policy level and at grassroots with survivors of child abuse while strengthening families and communities of children at risk and providing necessary safeguards and support to reduce vulnerabilities to abuse, poverty and socio-natural disasters.

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