Prithipura was established in 1964 by Dr Bryan de Kretser. At this time, children with disabilities were frequently abandoned in hospitals and there was no provision available to meet their long-term needs. With support from friends and supporters, Bryan and a carer initially took on the care of 3 children with severe disabilities from a hut near the beach in a place north of Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka.
Bryan and Thillaka married in 1966 and were the driving force behind Prithipura for many years, alongside a small team of dedicated staff. Together, they worked on improving the care and support that was offered to those who came to live with them, promoting the important work of the organisation and raising awareness about disability issues.
80s and 90s
The 80’s and 90’s saw Prithipura Communities becoming more established and able to cater to lots of different needs through the development of the Infants Home – on the original site – as well as expansion to other locations – two farms and a school. Since the founding of the organisation, it had become clear that babies and children who came to the Infants Home were in need of a ‘home for life’ and these new locations met that need as well as offering greater opportunity for skill development, independence and long-term sustainability.
This period also saw an expansion in the staff team including the recruitment of qualified teachers at Cotagala School and long-term specialist volunteers coming from abroad to offer professional support and advice.
Today, Prithipura Communities remains an essential part of disability support in Sri Lanka. Local and international support as well as the long-term commitment of the staff team has meant that Prithipura Communities has continued to develop and improve the services it offers to people with disabilities.
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. However, at present, community support remains patchy and inconsistent and is often dependent on geographical and economic factors. Stigma also remains a huge problem with families being affected by this and therefore unable to provide a home for their child with a disability.
Although there have been many changes since its inception the principles of Prithipura remain the same; to offer a loving, supportive home to those with disabilities who have little or no family support. We encourage independent living for those who are able as they grow older and ensure that we give those that live with us the skills to do this where possible. Others remain with us throughout their lives, either due to the severe nature of their disabilities or through becoming paid members of the team, working on one of our farms or helping with the care of others.
The two farms at Anandapura and Asokapura generate an income for the Community and has helped us with one of our key goals to increase our self-sufficiency. However, we continue to rely on donations from individuals and organisations in Sri Lanka and abroad due to the fact that so many are supported by our organisation.
One of our key activities is also to raise awareness in the wider community, to promote disability rights and equality as well as contributing to societal solutions.
WE SUPPORT Equal Opportunities
Prithipura Communities believes in the intrinsic value of all humans regardless of disability and that people with disabilities should have equal access to a family life, education, work opportunities, community integration and ultimately live a life free of stigma.
WE PROMOTE Independent Choices
We believe that people with disabilities should have the freedom to make independent choices. People with disabilities, with appropriate resources and support, can make decisions about their own lives and must be heard on issues that affect their well-being.
WE BELIEVE IN SOCIAL PROGRESS POWERED BY EMPATHY
Love, empathy, patience and understanding are at the heart of everything we do. They make personal joy and happiness and social progress possible.
WE ARE A FAMILY-SPIRITED TEAM
Our family spirit is central to our community – those with disabilities who live with us, Employees, Caregivers, Volunteers and Supporters. We seek to build long-term, healthy relationships to best support people with disabilities. We make the most of opportunities and overcome challenges by working together as a team. Our strength comes from unity and collaboration, supported by humility and open-mindedness.
WE ARE BUILT ON TRUST
Building trust and being true to our word are essential to our work as we are entrusted with the privilege of supporting people with disabilities.