Volunteer to work with children and adults with special needs
This special needs school and care centre provides a home, education and recreation for disabled children and adults.
Like many other developing countries Sri Lanka struggles to care for its physically and mentally challenged citizens. As a result, many people with ‘special needs’ spend their lives largely unloved and uncared for. This project works towards providing its residents with a worthwhile place in society by providing an education and some ‘hard’ skills.
The centre is based on the edge of Galle, a world heritage site. It provides a residential home for approximately 65 people aged five to fifty. The younger ones all attend the special needs school that teaches up to 120 children from both the home and the surrounding area. The children have learning difficulties and associated behavioural issues, while some will also have physical disabilities. It is a well-structured project and the local teachers all have a good understanding of special needs pupils.
The school also houses its own autistic unit which currently teaches a small number of children. It is of a high standard and is run on similar lines to those in the UK.
Activities in the main house revolve around helping to equip the residents with skills that can make them feel they are of value to their communities. By helping to develop basic skills that can produce an income, a feeling of self worth can be restored. To develop those skills English is taught daily along with computer instruction, art, handicraft and horticulture.
Volunteers are needed to assist the permanent members of staff across a whole spectrum of activities, including teaching small groups of special needs children.
Volunteers are needed to provide care and stimulating activities for the residents and assist with the schooling of the children in the special needs school. The staff are warm, welcoming, properly qualified and passionate about their work. They provide a good service but do not have the time or knowledge to put on additional activities.
With the mixture of children and adult residents the variety of work is enormous and it is an opportunity for volunteers to gain a breadth of experience. It is a well organised project and you would have plenty of opportunity to develop it according to your own personal strengths and interests.
Volunteers with an interest in art therapy would have every opportunity of working with the children. There is a Sri Lankan physiotherapist to offer guidance. For any volunteer who wishes to explore the opportunities of working with special needs children, particularly Autism, this projects provides an ideal format for gaining good, practical experience.
Volunteers with professional skills such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, art therapists and special needs teachers will work directly with the residents and school children and provide a tremendous benefit by bringing additional or new skills to the project. These skills are all in short supply in Sri Lanka.
Non-qualified volunteers would need guidance but an extra pair of hands is always welcome and there is a tremendous capacity for any volunteer to lead recreational activities that stimulate and develop the interests of residents and children alike.
Stephanie shares the challenges and rewards of working in a special needs school in Sri Lanka, where she made great friends and memories
It is not easy to say goodbye. I would love to come back to Sri Lanka and visit the project, so I feel that although my last day was very sad, I will be able to see these people again, Disabled peoples project in Sri Lanka