COLOMBO – Child rights and humanitarian organization Plan International has launched a back-to-school program to support the thousands of schoolchildren affected by the floods and landslides which wreaked havoc in Sri Lanka in May, hoping to continue their education in a safe, child-friendly environment.
Distribution of school supplies, along with 5,000 hygiene and non-food relief items, will reach communities in the Ratnapura district this week.
Around 87 schools in the Ratnapura district and 54 schools in the Matara district were affected by the disaster, many of which now require repairs to their classrooms and water and sanitation systems. Thousands of children in the area had their homes damaged or destroyed.
Siân Platt, Acting Country Director for Plan International Sri Lanka, said: “Due to vast needs, we will focus our efforts primarily on these two districts over the next few months. Children, in particular, have undergone very distressing events. The recovery process will take time. We will be working with children and their communities to deliver an effective response and that centers on children’s education.
“While we support school restoration efforts and provide school supplies, it is also critical that children are provided with continuous psychosocial support, especially during their gradual return to a normal life.”
Plan International, in partnership with the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society, will provide nearly 3,200 children with back-to-school packs. With support from the Japan Platform, coordinated by Plan International Japan, Plan International will attend to the immediate repairs of the most affected schools in the Ratnapura district.
The organization will also work with the regional education authorities, child protection officers, and experts to provide structured psychosocial sessions for children, as well as parents and caregivers, to equip them for coping with stress in the aftermath of the disaster.
Almost 200 people, including 44 children, were killed by the floods and landslides that struck in May. Close to 189,000 children were affected. Plan International responded by distributing urgent sanitation and hygiene supplies to the thousands of children and families displaced to evacuation centers. Subsequently, school supplies were disseminated to 4,000 school children in Ratnapura.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Staff in Sri Lanka are available for interviews. Photos for use are available here (credit Plan International).
About Plan International USA
Plan International is an independent development and humanitarian organization that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. Plan believes in the power and potential of every child. Working together with children, young people, supporters, and partners, Plan strives for a just world, tackling the root causes of the challenges facing girls and all vulnerable children.
For more information, please visit PlanUSA.org.