Sixteen-year-old Y. Farzan (name changed) from Ampara is a motherless youngster. It was eight years ago that he came to the Islamia Home for Needy and Orphan Children in Ratmalana. Farzan’s father who is a farmer hardly visits, but Farzan doesn’t feel the lack of family thanks to the love and affection that he receives from his protectors at Islamia Home. According to the matron of the home, when his father calls occasionally, young Farzan tells him that he would return home only after he completes his studies and finds a job.
|Education is a priority for these children says Mrs. N.M. Asroff (right,top). Pix by Saman Kariyawasam
Established in 1958, Islamia Home is located on a spacious ¾ acre plot of land, at Lady Catherine’s Estate in Ratmalana. The home looks after the welfare of underprivileged Muslim boys coming from diverse backgrounds. Some of them are street children; some are orphans, others from broken families and yet others with single parents. There are also the tsunami and war affected.
This home which is only for boys presently has become a shelter for 40 such underprivileged children in the 6-16 age group.
The children’s education is priority. “Tamil medium students study at Hindu College while those in the Sinhala medium attend Sri Rahula Maha Vidyalaya,” says Mrs. N.M. Asroff who has been in charge of the home for the past six years. In addition, tuition classes in Computer, English, Tamil and Sinhala languages are held in the evenings.
Once they complete school, the boys are given vocational training to make them competent in the various skills they possess. This done, their next endeavour is to find employment for them. Those who get good results at the G. C. E Advanced Level examination and gain University admission are encouraged to pursue their higher studies. It is only once they are independent and financially stable that they leave the home.
At Islamia Home, the children grow up in a religious atmosphere with the spiritual guidance they receive from the Moulavi who assists these children in their Quran lessons, prayers and other religious activities while inculcating good manners and discipline in them.
“The children are admitted to the home only when a guardian makes an application,” Mrs. Ashroff said adding that sponsorship for an orphan of any age is Rs. 3000 a month. Most of the children who come from broken families do not like the idea of visiting their kith and kin as they are bitter about their unpleasant family environment, the matron explains. “Some have either a single parent or a relative but they too do not visit these children,” she added.
Set in a beautifully landscaped garden, the Islamia home is well equipped with library facilities, a study hall, IT facilities, prayer hall, TV/dining room and a playground. Various activities such as picnics, cricket matches and prize givings, are also organized from time to time for their entertainment.
Also in the calendar are art exhibitions, drama and song competitions for the children to showcase their talents. Arrangements are now being made to hold medical camps in the home regularly, said the administrator S. I. M. Nawaz. Stressing on the importance of providing the children with psychological support to make them overcome the emotional trauma attached to their past, Mr Nawaz says that they lack counselling facilities at the moment.
With so many children in our country facing an uncertain future, the children at the Islamia family enjoy their stay in this homely environment, with their carers doing everything possible to provide for their needs. Public support can make their lives brighter.