Kathmandu: Six months ago, Sri Lanka was in the eye of the storm for its worst economic crisis since independence. While calm has largely returned to the island nation, the full impact of mass unemployment and dramatic price rises is now visible among many families.
Lots of family in Sri-Lanka have had to pause their children’s schooling so they can earn money by selling fireworks. Food prices in Sri Lanka reached record levels when inflation hit an all-time high of almost 95%.
Some days, no-one in family eats there. While school is free in Sri Lanka, meals are not provided. When you add in the cost of uniforms and transport, education is a luxury thing which normal people can no longer afford.
At least 400 rupees per day ($1.09, 90p) for each child is needed if they are to return to school.
So, some children just sit in their one-bedroom home on the bed everyone shares.
“All the kids used to go to school every day before but now most families don’t have the money to send them to school. Few kids can go to school because their shoes and uniform still fit.
As the sun rises, children who are going to class hurry along dirt roads in white cotton uniforms, jumping on the back of motorcycles or piling into tuk-tuks.
One of the Principal of school says, “When the school day begins, when we have the morning assembly, children tend to faint from hunger.” The government says they have started distributing rice to schools but several schools have received no help yet.
The real victims of this economic crisis have become children. Sri-Lankan poeple says, “The government are not looking for an answer to this issue. It’s been seen and identified by UNICEF and others, rather than the Sri Lankan government.”
UNICEF say it will get harder for people to feed themselves in the months ahead, with inflation in the cost of basic goods like rice continuing to cripple families. It’s expected more children across the country will be forced to stop attending class.
With the government seemingly unable to manage the situation, charities have had to step in. Samata Sarana is a Christian charity which has been helping Colombo’s poorest for three decades.
Today, its food hall is packed with hungry students from schools across the capital. While the charity can help around 200 children daily, it is clear it’s struggling to meet demand.