Our international initiative in Sri Lanka is located just outside the city center of Kandy, which is the second largest city in Sri Lanka after the capital Colombo. The goal of our international initiative is to empower girls who are rehabilitating from the trauma of sex crimes by providing them with the skills and opportunities to become educated, self-sufficient, and economically empowered.
Sadly in Sri Lanka three to five children are reportedly raped every day. Only one third of these crimes are actually reported due to fear of stigmatization, family honor, or shame. Currently, if girls get pregnant or if they want to pursue the case in court, they are transferred to shelters run either by the probationary department or private shelters. Many girls end up giving birth at these shelters and are cut off from a life of normalcy as they cannot live with their families or go to school during the duration of the court case. Some girls stay at these shelters for years. Once their cases are done, the girls can either go back to their families, if accepted, or they are forced to start their own lives if justice was not served. Unfortunately, these girls often lack the skills or opportunities to lift themselves out of poverty.
Stephanie Siriwardhana is a Sri Lankan model who was crowned Miss Sri Lanka 2011 and represented her country as a contestant at the 2011 Miss Universe pageant. Much more than just a beauty queen, she has used the crown as a platform to make a difference and to raise awareness on the issues that she is most passionate about. She is a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum, Senator of the Second Youth Parliament of Sri Lanka, and the founder of the Stephanie Siriwardhana Foundation.
The mission of the Stephanie Siriwardhana Foundation is to inspire, educate, and empower individuals to become socially responsible and foster positive change locally and globally. The foundation is currently working to construct a transitional shelter for young girls who are victims of sex crimes. This transitional shelter will provide food, housing, vocational training, and psycho-social counselling so that these girls can learn to reintegrate back into society and return to a life of normalcy as self-sustaining empowered young women.
THE NEED FOR COLLABORATION
In the developing world, the artisan industry is not only the second largest employer but it promotes sustainable development that respects the uniqueness of each place and each artisan. The girls living at the shelter will be offered vocational training where they will learn trades such as design, handloom and handicrafts. This will provide them with the skills to become economically sustainable by pursuing opportunities such as starting a small business.
The Stephanie Siriwardhana Foundation will work to facilitate the sale of these products within the local market. However, with access to the broader international market, these girls could further improve their livelihoods. By connecting them with a whole world of consumers outside their own borders, they can expand their entrepreneurial prospects and business horizons. This is where FENVII comes in...