Over 50 years after its inception, Prithipura Communities remains an essential part of disability support in Sri Lanka. We welcome the increase in community support for children and adults with disabilities in Sri Lanka and hope that one day every child with a disability will be able to be supported by their birth family.
The World Report on Disability identifies a disability prevalence rate of 12.9 per cent in Sri Lanka, based on the findings of the World Health Survey. This is considered the best available estimate on prevalence.
STIGMa & DISCRIMINATION ARE PREVALENT
People with disabilities in Sri Lanka typically face significant stigma and discrimination. Cultural factors including superstitions mean that disability can be seen as a punishment for wrong-doing in a previous life, and people with disabilities are perceived as omens of bad luck. The National Disability Policy notes that “individuals who have a disability are often perceived by family and society as being helpless, or as persons who should be helped”. They may be discouraged from working or supporting themselves, and it may be assumed that they cannot get married or have children.
Prithipura Communities works hard to combat stigma and negative attitudes towards people with disabilities through its work when people visit as well as ensuring those who live with us have the chance to integrate with their local communities. Prithipura Communities also works with other disability-focussed organisations where those with disabilities are able to showcase their talents such as the National Paralympic games, events organised by the Social Services Department as well disability advocacy organisations.
community support IS DEPENDENT On economic factors
At present, community support for people with disabilities remains patchy and inconsistent and is often dependent on geographical and economic factors. For example, a 2003 survey found that 39 per cent of people with a disability had never attended school. This is despite education being a fundamental right for all in the Constitution of Sri Lanka.
The National Disability Policy identifies certain groups as being particularly marginalised, including women and children with disabilities and those with intellectual, psychosocial or severe multiple impairments. Those with complex and/or more stigmatised impairments often have limited access to services and support. 67 % of people with a disability who had never attended school had an intellectual impairment.
OUR COMMUNITY SUPPORTS THOSE MOST IN NEED
Those who come to live at Prithipura Communities come from the most marginalised and economically deprived circumstances and have mostly had a difficult start in life with families unable to care for them themselves due to poverty, stigma and/or serious family difficulties. We encourage contact with families and offer support to facilitate this if necessary. Some of our staff members are mothers of children living at Prithipura. We have been able to offer these people a home and work opportunities and for them to be able to be a mother to their child as well as ensuring their child has the best opportunities for growth and development.