them an identity
Priyanwada Ranawaka talks to Jezima
N.Nalim about her mission to help those without birth proof
In this country, tracing a missing document, no matter how important,
is a Herculean task. Preparing new papers, a birth certificate for
instance, would be even worse. One would have to run round a few
government offices, write dozens of appeals and then wait in hope.
a voluntary organization has been doing this for those who have
no way of proving their identity. It has been seven years since
Inspiration Child Rights Organization started on this noble mission.
Since its inception in 1997, the association has undertaken many
projects of which the Birth Certificate Project was foremost. It
was in the same year that, street children in the city of Colombo
received their birth certificates, a name and nationality.
idea was not to stop there," says Mrs. Jezima N. Nalim, the
Executive Director and Chairperson of the Inspiration Child Rights
Organization, that has so far helped more than 4000 children to
get birth certificates or most probable age certificates.
recognition of her dedicated service she received the Service Excellence
medal from the Presidential Awards last May. She also received a
Supportive Fellow Life Membership Certificate from SUNFO, and The
Human Potential Award in 2003.
has been working together with government institutions, mainly the
Registrar General's Department in helping street children get their
birth certificates. She also carried out awareness programmes on
the Rights of Children for 500 school principals of disadvantaged
schools in Colombo, selected by the Education Department of the
principals were not aware of the situation of the street kids,"
says Jezima, explaining that through the awareness programme the
principals were shown that these children should not be denied their
right to education merely because of the lack of a document.
July last year till January this year, through a mobile programme,
the Inspiration Child Rights Organization together with a team of
officials from the Registrar General's Office, medical officers
and other voluntary workers have visited several parts of Colombo
to issue birth certificates to street children.
a birth certificate is issued at or within three months of the birth
of a child. Sadly every year 5-10% of births go unregistered. "A
child who is not registered at birth is at risk of being shut out
from society," says Jezima.
most probable age certificates are issued to those who have no documents
and are not even remotely aware of their backgrounds. This certificate
is issued after a doctor examines the child and via an X-ray determines
the likely age.
also create awareness among the street children and their families
living in the slums and shanties of Colombo about human rights,
and other matters crucial to their lives," says Jezima adding
that these people are "not only poor, but also illiterate,
organisation is now planning to take up a new set of projects. "Our
aim is now to identify the problems of the people living in these
slum areas and direct them to the relevant authorities for necessary
action," says she adding that the project officers of the ICRO
would help even in filling the forms and handling correspondence.
"We are awaiting funds and sponsors for this project,"