The Head of RYTHM Foundation, Santhi Perisamy, recently visited Sri Lanka to oversee the advancements in ongoing projects and strengthen our Sri Lankan partnerships.
She visited Kandy, Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, and Jaffna, the four key provinces where RYTHM has partnered with local NGOs to support local communities.
RYTHM collaborates with the Women’s Development Centre (WDC), LEADS, and Sarvodaya in Sri Lanka, where their respective efforts are making tangible strides in the areas of education, poverty eradication, and youth empowerment within numerous communities.
Empowering Disadvantaged Communities
In Kandy, Santhi was able to witness the impactful efforts of the WDC partnership programme, which helps disadvantaged families and differently-abled individuals through its Community-based Rehabilitation Programme (CBR) centres. RYTHM has established 11 CBR centres nationwide, offering crucial assistance, skills training, economic empowerment, and educational support.
Santhi observed various activities catering to individuals with diverse abilities, ranging from children’s education to young people developing their vocational skills.
“Despite limited facilities, these centres have devoted staff like physiotherapists and teachers, creating a nurturing environment that has proven to be a lifeline for the beneficiaries and their families.
During her time in the northern districts of Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi, Santhi was similarly impressed by the work of LEADS for their focus on child protection, women’s rights, and education.
Thanks to the project, numerous people can now attend school and acquire new skills. They engage in academic classes during the day and participate in skill-building activities such as afternoon sessions focused on wellness, including yoga.
“These activities take place in basic facilities. However, the attention they receive is invaluable. The strong bond between caretakers and beneficiaries is remarkable, creating a positive environment due to the sincerity of those involved,” Santhi explained.
The organisation also assists families displaced by the country’s civil war that ended in 2009 but left ongoing challenges.
“LEADS helps these families with livelihood opportunities. For instance, families might have land but lack the resources to cultivate it effectively. Our collaboration provides seed money, helping them build wells for vegetable farming and more.”
Creating Sustainable Livelihoods
In Jaffna, another region profoundly scarred by the war, Santhi saw Sarvodaya’s work against domestic abuse and its support for women, youth, and children. The organisation equips families with skills, training, and empowerment to create a brighter future. For example, women learn cooking skills in groups of 10 to 20. Other programmes teach beneficiaries to produce leather and palmyra products.
“The many beneficiaries I met look forward to how best they can take the next step to earn a better living and create more efficient opportunities.
“What was also heartwarming is these people are survivors of an elongated civil war that left them in utter poverty and displacement. Even with the pandemic and political instability after, they have not given up. Their resilience, determination, and drive to make something out of their lives are reassuring.”
Santhi reckoned it might take a decade or more to see significant improvements in Sri Lanka. “Because of this, organisations like ours must stay in Sri Lanka longer to ensure our efforts continue to help.”
“As my journey through these transformative initiatives ended, it was evident that our steadfast dedication, alongside the contributions of our local partners, is sowing the seeds of change that will bear fruit for generations to come.
“Through education and skills training, RYTHM is crafting a future where every individual can thrive, breaking the cycle of poverty and fostering hope in even the most challenging circumstances,” Santhi added.