Jesuit Reconciliation Solidarity Sri Lanka-JRSS is a non-governmental, non-sectarian, & non-profit making organization established in 2017, by the Society of Jesus of Sri Lanka Province. As it is one of the social arms of the Society of Jesus in Sri Lanka, basing its head office in Vavuniya, is working towards the upliftment and building of peace and reconciliation of the marginalized community in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of the country.
The organization began its intervention with the Early Childhood Development programme-ECD steered by Jesuit Refugee Service-JRS before 2017. As JRS exit in 2017 from the Northern and Eastern parts of the island, the Jesuit province decided to continue their support for the ECD activities through JRSS.
Fr. Alex Premkumar SJ, from the Indian Social Institute-ISI-Delhi, blessed and opened the head office of JRSS in Vavuniya on 15th January 2017.
In that context, the LBR Foundation who are working for the upliftment of the poor children, came forward to support the pre-school project through the Society of Jesus. The inauguration of the JRSS was held in Puthukudiyeruppu, in the Mullaithivu district at Ganavoli (light of wisdom), pre-school on 3rd January, 2017. From the inception up to the date, JRSS has established its operational machination in different levels. We opened the head office in Vavuniya on 14th January 2017. Fr. Premkumar, SJ, from the Indian Social Institute-ISI-Delhi graced the occasion.
The Society of Jesus and the LBR Foundation signed a formal agreement in March 2017 in Vavuniya.
A Peace-Filled and Reconciled Society
Accompanying the war affected people in Sri Lanka on their primary efforts to re-build their lives as persons, families and communities.
At present JRSS is in function in seven zones, conducting 118 pre-schools, helping many children with the help of 190 teachers. They follow the preschool-curriculum, provided by the Provincial Government. The curriculum consists of the following criteria:
I. Physical development
II. Cognitive development I-learning the concept of language
III. Cognitive development II-learning the concept of mathematics
IV. Understanding the environment
V. Fine arts development I-drawings and creative crafts making
VI. Fine arts development II-music and acting
VII. Emotional development and socialization
This formation is fulfilled through indoor and outdoor based activities
The organization also feeds nutritious food for around 2500 children each year.
It was a year of gaining experience in the Early Childhood Development Programme in the North and East.
The inauguration of the JRSS at Ganavoli preschool in Puthukudiyeruppu, Mullaithivu district
The ECD programme is a launching pad to walk with the poor in the rural villages of the target areas. Considering the 196 teachers not only as beneficiaries, but also as assets for community development, JRSS introduced women empowerment programme in 2018.
INNI-2018-women for women became a platform to exhibit the hidden talents of the teachers in debates, dramas, group songs and dances and poetries. This empowerment programme led the teachers to become active members in civil society organizations. This programme is annually organized for the empowerment of women in leadership. At present 50 teachers are holding offices in the village level organizations.
We moved towards a new initiative-eco-concern by promoting and conducting seminars, workshops, and environmental activists groups in village level.
In the beginning of the project itself, JRSS took initiatives to introduce sustainable development activities in view of making all the preschools non donor dependent but self-sufficient. The organization realized that it was a long process. However, we selected 18 ECD centres: 2 centres each from 9 zones to start Home Garden and Country Fowl Project in view of operating the 18 centres through the local income in January 2021 onwards. This process was interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic from March 2020. We restarted this venture in August 2020 as it was planned.
126 most deserving families have been supported through country fowl project in six districts where we are present. In view of this juncture, a farm is established in Vavuniya for the sustainability of the project.
• Conducting Early Childhood Development programme in 118 villages.
• Providing employment opportunities for 190 women as preschool teachers.
• Empowering the grassroots women in leadership.
• Motivating 50 women preschool teachers to play key roles in the civil society organizations.
• Nutritious food feeding for 2500 children.
• Training youth in drama and theatre for community development.
• Building teachers’ capacity through monthly teachers training programmes.
• Forming and strengthening the Board of Management in each school.
• Establishment of saving accounts for most in need preschool children.
• Relief project in the Covid-19 context.
• Implementing Country Fowl projects in 18 villages.
• Establishing an agricultural and animal husbandry farm in 2020.
> 10,000 children have gained regular access to preschool and have improved learning opportunities through ABL methods. Thereby, they have received admissions in government schools for Grade One.
> Self-confidence and public performance of children have improved through participation in cultural and sports events.
> 190 preschool teachers have received financial support by receiving their monthly allowance.
> Leadership qualities of 300 women, in the respective areas have been enhanced.
> 50 women have become office bearers in grassroots women organizations in the target areas.
> 72 most deserved children were offered with scholarships for their future education.
> 68 schools have got established Boards of Management consist of both teachers and parents.
> 60 percent of preschools have been introduced the concept of eco- concern in their curriculum > 10 Self Help Groups-SHG are in function in Mullaitivu district. > Country fowl project has been implemented in field level for 126 deserved families.
> 50 teachers have gone through a special training to become facilitators on human resource development-HRD.
> Last Saturday of every month the ECD animators gather zonal-wise with the field coordinator and reflect the field work experience of the current month and plan for the next month.
> The Board of Management of each preschool meets and discuss on the issues.
> All the preschools grow many trees, and plants in line with the promotion of ecology.
> Survival with minimum needs is practiced by the childhood development animators.
> Culture of consumerism has been reduced among the members of the organization.
> Equality is practiced in a way that all the children are gifted with prizes irrespective of their victories in various competitive events.
> The parents of the children willingly offer their service in shramadana (gift of labour) for the maintenance of the preschools.
> The staffs of the organization assemble once a month at the head office and discuss on the field activities and plan for the next month.
The LBR Foundation earlier known as LEBERA Foundation is an independent registered charity in the United Kingdom, passionate in making a difference in the lives of vulnerable children. It is the international philanthropic of arm of the LEBERA Group. One of their biggest concerns is that the children from poverty-stricken families should be given the access to fundamental resources for learning and development. The focus is on improving the well-being, quality of their lives and prospects of those children.
In 2009, the Lebera foundation began functioning in Sri Lanka. According to its prospectus published in 2017, its key commitment is to “Empower, Enhance and integrate” vulnerable children and youth into mainstream development programmes.
In 2016, the Foundation was registered as an independent legal entity, under the laws and guidelines of the National Secretariat for Non-Government organizations in Sri Lanka.
Since the inception of the organization (2017), LBR foundation has given its financial support generously to carry out the vision and mission of JRSS. We are very much grateful to the LBR Foundation for their support, guidance, and encouragement.
As the covid-19 crisis has affected the entire world, Sri Lanka too has become a victim of the pandemic. Though, initially Sri Lanka was in a strong position to tackle the danger, in mid-October 2020, the second wave of Corona started spreading all over the Island. Education sector is badly affected. Non- governmental organizations are facing financial crises. JRSS is not an exceptional organization to face such a crisis. The LBR foundation which has been supporting JRSS since its inception is taking off its support due the challenges.
Restrictions which are imposed by the present government on the NGOs to the NGOs from are also another impediment for them to moving forward in their service to those people. Since there is no major industrial or agriculture development project is implemented in North and East parts of Sri Lanka, the people are unable to sustain the education of their children on their own. They are badly in need of external support.