Minister of Child Development and Women’s Affairs Hon. Tissa Karaliyedde and
Director of the Children’s Secretariat Yamuna Perera with the plaque
presented to the Ministry to commemorate ten successful years of ‘Piyawara’.
Over 3000 children across 34 Pre-Schools islandwide
Colombo. Tuesday 13 March 2012. The Hemas Group recently celebrated ten successful years of its early childhood development initiative “Piyawara” in partnership with the Children’s Secretariat of the Ministry of Child Development and Women’s Affairs. Ten years on, Piyawara is both a visible and tangible proof of one of the most successful public-private sector partnerships in recent times.
The Piyawara story began in 2002 when the Hemas Group, through the ‘Hemas Outreach Foundation’ launched its CSR Initiative in the area of Early Childhood Development in Sri Lanka. Named ‘Piyawara’, it signifies the initial steps taken by a child at the beginning of the journey through life.
Its vision was to nurture children with good care and provide a solid foundation. Its focus is on children between 0-5 years, the most important stage when 80% of brain development takes place.
The Piyawara project has added and upgraded 34 model preschools to the existing governmental network spanning Sri Lanka’s geographical divide and today enriches the lives of nearly 3,000 children daily. It has a holistic approach focusing on seven key areas – creating parental awareness, engaging in teacher training, improving recreational facilities, empowering children with special needs, working towards eradicating child abuse, improving infrastructure development and emergency intervention during national disasters
Hemas is today on the National Coordination Committee on Early Childhood Development, the body which oversees the development and implementation of the National Policy.
The CEO of Hemas Holdings, Husein Esufally, also attributes the sustained financial assistance and support received from the main board of Hemas Holdings PLC and the Senior Management as yet another driving force behind Piyawara’s success. “Together with this is, it is our conscious non-commercialisation of this CSR project by avoiding undue publicity”, that has helped it to be a success, he added.
To mark ten years of Piyawara, awards were presented to key partners of the project. Among them were officials of the Ministry, the Sri Lanka Police and the Academics in the field. Present on the occasion were Hon. Tissa Karaliyedde Minister of Child Development and Women’s Affairs, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Hon. Sumedha Jayasena, Member of Parliament Hon. Sudharshana Fernandopulle, senior officials from Rewe Group Germany, top officials from Hemas and several others.
Says Hemas’ Senior Manager Corporate Communication and CSR Shiromi Masakorala, “A key success factor was our partnership with the Children’s Secretariat which gave us access to the government network, resource personnel, monitoring and links to all local councils which helped us sustain a project of this nature. We also gained hands on experience working in the 29 post-Tsunami make-shift camps and in the Manik Farm in Vavuniya where we managed pre-schools and play areas to help children return to normalcy after their traumatic experiences”.
As a first-time initiative, the ‘Piyawara Community Pre-School’ concept is being adopted to assist marginalised rural communities in Sri Lanka. The first such school of its kind is in Ambalnagar, 10kms from Kilinochchi Town, where resettlement has taken place. Hemas is also in the process of developing more schools in the resettled areas of Mullativu.
Chairperson of the Hemas Outreach Foundation, Abbas Esufally said, “A project of this magnitude also incurs recurrent costs on a very frequent basis. Over the years, Piyawara’s success story attracted foreign business partners who rallied round in a show of solidarity with continued financial support. Among them is a key donor Rewe Touristik Germany, a pillar of strength in this journey”.
Over the years, Piyawara has touched the lives of thousands of children from all parts of Sri Lanka, from North to South and East to West, thereby resulting in a better quality of education. It stands today as a successful initiative, a sustainable and ongoing project by Hemas Holdings Plc and the Children’s Secretariat … demonstrating the success of government – private sector partnerships in addressing national issues and transcending geographical and ethnic boundaries.