In a country where about 18,000 children do not have a stable home, the biggest concern of the Child Protection Society of Ceylon Inc. is not only what a child would be in the future, but also the person that he or she is today.
Established in 1928 -- a time when child protection laws had yet to be formulated, the Child Protection Society was a pioneer association dedicated to the welfare of underprivileged and abused children.
Since its inception, the CPS has campaigned successfully for many child protection laws such as the Children and Young Persons Ordinance, the Orphanages Ordinance as well as the Adoption Ordinance.
Eighty years on, this society has played a pivotal role in the lives of many a destitute child and continues to do so. Running two homes- one in Rukmale and the other in Maharagama, the CPS caters primarily to the needs of destitute and abused children between the ages of 4-18 years.
The children, most of whom are rescued from the streets are taken into these homes through the Department of Probation and Child Care (DPCCS). Some are handed over to the homes by a destitute and desperate parent or relative, seeking the child’s betterment. Some children are removed from homes that are broken by death, desertion or incapacitating illnesses while some are victims of abuse and molestation. A few children are also sent in by the Juvenile Courts.
“Our focus here,” states S. Wijeyaratne, President of the CPS, “is to give to the children who pass through here, a sense of normalcy and equip them with the confidence they need to fulfil their dreams in the future.”
With this in mind, the Society will hold a Child Art Exhibition at the National Art Gallery on November 16. Apart from raising money for the maintenance and improvement of the homes (part of the proceeds will also go into the individual savings accounts of the children), the organizers are also experimenting with the therapeutic nature of art.
Thus for the past four weeks, around 20 of these children, under the guidance of an art teacher, have created 63 exhibits showcasing their talent.
The exhibition will also feature the work of a few reputed artists- including Marie Alles Fernando, Ranjith Peiris and Sarath Chandrajeewa.
From colourful landscapes to lifelike figures and abstract art, this exhibition not only serves as a display of young talent, but also indicates hope of a brighter future for these children.