An experience sharing program for the Department of Probation and Child Care Services (DPCCS) officials and also for the Save the Children Staff recently was conducted in Trincomalee. The program witnessed enriched mutual understanding among government officials across the geographical and ethnic divide as they are from Southern, Western and Eastern Sri Lanka. The program was building bridges along with strengthening the relevant officials with technical knowledge on family reunification of children and prevention of family separation and also on Voluntary Children Homes Monitoring Team (VHMT) mechanism. Provincial Commissioners of Northern and Eastern Provincial DPCCS and Probation Officers In Charge (POICs), Senior Probation Officers and Probation Assistants of Western, Southern and Eastern provinces participated in this.
The program consisted of a discussion session for DPCCS officials and a field visit to Ellekaithuraimugathuvaram – Verugal Village Child Rights Monitoring Committee (VCRMC) where DPCCS officers, Children Club members, VCRMC members and the Eastern province government officials such as Divisional Secretariat of Verugal -Trincomalee, Additional Director of Planning, teachers, acting Police OIC and Grama Niladhari were present.
In the discussion session the representatives from DPCCS from the three provinces elaborated their working procedure, progress and future plans separately. Comments, suggestions and appreciations were given and conveyed by the participants. Therefore it became a valuable opportunity for all provinces to review their mission with inputs in varied angles and also to understand different situations and issues fall on them, as these provincial DPCCS are working in different geographical and social backgrounds. The provincial DPCCS participants mentioned that the program strengthened their interrelation among DPCCS in these districts which will make them easily refer each other for their future work.
Moreover the participants received new experience on socialization process and different aspects, and methods practiced in strengthening the families for children’s wellbeing. Mr. Gamini Weerawickrama, Southern province Probation Commissioner highly appreciated the well developed plan built and implemented in Eastern province while, Mr. M. Mubarak, Eastern province DPCCS Commissioner added that he has received knowledge and new ideas from this program that can be applied in the future. At the same time the Western and Southern province probation officials invited the Eastern province representative to Western and Southern provinces for more experience sharing which is proof for further peace building.
The field visit to Ellekaithuraimugathuvaram – Verugal VCRMC became an ideal platform to share practical experience. Here, family reunification of children and prevention of family separation were deeply considered, as many participants tended to speak of their experience in detail. For instance Mr. Ponampalam Thaneswaran, Divisional Secretariat of Verugal, Trincomalee pointed out what strategies taken by the community and the officials in prevention of child marriage and school dropout in the villages with high number of them. The president of “Abirami” Children Club in Ellekaithuraimugathuvaram – Verugal said “we improve the personality of the children by identifying their problems. In our meetings we try to find out solutions for the problems at our level and also we engage in extra curricula activities. We do awareness programmes on different child rights related issues and pay attention on domestic violence against children and school related problems”
Many speakers of the event highly appreciated the visit of South-West staff to their village. In addition they mentioned that this village was even not known much in past, and this visit became an opportunity for them to revamp thier bond with South and West.
Save the Children has been in partnership with the Department of Probation and Child Care Services (DPCCS) in Child Protection System building, to contribute in capacity building for prevention and remedial support in child protection issues and case management for advocacy. The experience sharing visit was funded and facilitated by Save the Children under the USAID funded program “The New Beginnings for Children Affected by Conflict and Violence”
Written By: Madhubhashini Rathnayaka
Pic by: Verginiya Livingston