30 years of civil unrest coupled with the destruction caused by the 2004 tsunami has left many areas of Sri Lanka devastated, with the smaller, more remote areas being hit the worst. In Sengamam, a village in the Ampara district, more than 90% of families are classed as poor, with a daily income of 700 LKR or less (USD 4.80.) Districts like Ampara and Batticaloa are so isolated that they don’t even have their own healthcare or education facilities. To get to school, children have to walk to the nearest town which is an average of 5km away. For some, this means a 5 am start every day, while others try to hitch lifts with strangers. Although dangerous, it saves their energy for studying in school. For some children, the distance is simply too far and children are left with no option but to drop out. Furthermore, with limited opportunities for work, families cannot afford to buy their children the school books they need, provide them with uniforms, or replace their damaged shoes. This year, Islamic Relief Waqf has supported the education of 1,250 school children by providing them with school shoes, bags, and stationery items that are vital for their continued learning. We also gave 150 children their own bike, which will make their journey to school less tiring. With the extra energy and time saved, the children will be able to focus more on their studies. They’ll also be able to support their family when collecting water and food from the market. energy and time, the children will be able to focus more on their studies. They’ll also be able to support their family when collecting water and food from the market.
With no public transport or money to pay for a taxi or a bicycle, Jamiya would spend up to three hours each day walking to and from school. Jamiya lives with her grandparents. Her grandfather, Haneefa, is a self-employed labourer in a paddy field but work opportunities are rare. When he does get work, the little money he earns has to go towards buying essential food and paying bills. Because of this, Jamiya’s school equipment and uniform requirements often remain unmet. When Jamiya received her bike, the family felt as though a weight had been lifted. Having just joined a new school 7km away, the bike was vital for her to stay in education. Without it, she would have had to drop out and sacrifice her dream of becoming a doctor. Now, Jamiya can even attend evening classes with her friends. Haneefa has seen the difference this has made to his granddaughter, saying: “Jamiya is so happy to have received her bike and school materials. I saw the delight on her face. She is one of the best students in her class. Alhamdulillah, now she can continue to study. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”
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