By Nadeesha Rajakaruna; Edited by Leanna Cappiello
The streets are dense, dusty and dirty. People hurry to the stations, boarding trains and busses to get to work on time. Amidst the hustle and bustle, a five-year-old girl sits quietly on the pavement beside mother. No one pays them any attention, but the girl notices everyone who walks by. Devinka* is too young to understand the dangers of living on the street, or the potential of her own future. This is how it was every day for both of them.
Now 19 years old, Devinka is leading a different sort of life. She started living at World Vision’s child care home, and since then, she has experienced many new things. The goal of the care home is to transform the lives of children who have grown up on the streets. The program is both an overnight shelter and a day centre, aiming to meet their basic needs for education, health and nutrition, while also offering protection, nurturing well-being and cultivating social values.
Though the first few days were a difficult adjustment for the young girl, she eventually warmed up to her surroundings. The care home team was kind and welcoming. Here, Devinka met new people and made friends with children her age. She also enrolled in a state school to enjoy an education, something she didn’t realize was possible. Needless to say, it was a far cry from her life on the street.
“Although I didn’t see it at first, I got everything I needed from this place,” Devinka says. She enjoyed playing sports, as well as singing and dancing. She performed well in all three and went on to excel in many competitions. Once Devinka grew, she realized her potential was not only in athletic and artistic pursuits, but also academic studies. When school exams approached, she focused hard on studying with the support of the extra classes held at the child care home.
In her spare time, Devinka learned how to make greeting cards. Having mastered the art, her cards became high demand commodities at the care home. Now, she makes her famous cards to sell at festivals to earn some pocket money and practice her entrepreneurship skills.
Devinka is a shining example for everyone at the care home who has seen her mature and excel. And though she is shy and gentle, she dares boldly. “I’ve just finished my advanced level exams and hope to go to teacher's training college,” she says. “I really want to teach science.”
Devinka is grateful for the chance she was given to explore her talents, befriend her peers and begin her education. Her future is looking bright!
*Name changed to protect identity
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