What we do
When we started in 2002, a time of war in Sri Lanka, we were able to reach only children’s homes. At the time we identified 5 children homes, in poor economic condition, in Eastern Province and tried to meet the basic requirement such as accommodation, clothes, food and medicines for children in these homes through contributions by friends of uthawi. Some of the homes had corrupt management that not only stopped children from directly interacting with us but also did not meet the requirements of the children. This restricted our work to one children’s home a rural organization in Eastern Province and a school in the Upcountry.
After the war, from the latter half of 2009 we have extended our activities to Art, Literature and Social Development Association in Arasaditheevu in Batticaloa and Kandhaloya Tamil Vidyalayam, Nawalapitiya focusing on education and personality development skills for children in these regions.
We organize interactive sessions of story-telling with children using selective stories, poems and essays that promote social harmony and modern social thought. As part of these sessions, we also encourage children to tell stories, read poems, write essays and critique literary and fictional narratives that they have come across.
in Manikkavasagar Children Home, we conducted 48 story telling sessions in a year, with 25 children participating in the sessions. In Paddippalai region, we organized 144 sessions for more than 200 children belonging to 3 villages. In Kandholaya, we facilitate the sessions through Kandholaya Tamil Vidyalaya with the participation of120 students.
We regularly screen select films, as a creative medium to introduce the world, for children in the villages, homes and schools. We start the screenings, usually languages foreign to the children, with a brief introduction, and follow it up with discussions. Children are then encouraged to write their reflections on the films.
In Paddippalai region, we organized 36 screenings in the year for 240 children in 6 villages. In Manikkavasagar film screenings are an integral part of the story telling sessions, while in Kandholaya School they are integrated into school curriculum but screened outside the regular school hours.
There are 12 children from Vakaneri, Kudumbimalai, Vakarai and other such places directly affected by the war, and lagging behind other children of their age in education, at Manikkavasagar Children Home. We take special sessions for these children to attentively enhance their writing, reading, learning and other skills and capabilities.
In Kandhaloya School where they do not have teachers for Mathematics and Science, uthawi gives honorarium for two teachers to teach these subjects to 164 students. In Kandholaya, we also give honorarium to a teacher for coordinating a pre-school, besides giving writing and sports materials to 20 children.
In Paddippalai, uthawi conducts computer classes 5 days in a week, for varying number of Students. Besides regular school students casual students such as those awaiting final exam results also participate in the classes.
uthawi assisted with the building of a hostel at the Kandhaloya Thottam School. Since the school is located in the hills, six kilometers from the plains, children attending the school often walk at least two hours one way to the school across rocky and bushy terrain, becoming very tired at the end of their daily four hour travel, unable to fully participate in, or sometimes even identify with, the school and learning. As a result, they often remain at home or work as daily labour, dropping out of school altogether. The hostel, where at present about 20 students live, helps them to stay on campus and continue their studies.
We organize an annual meet for all the more than 400 children we work with. The event is divided into two sessions: the first is for games and second for artistic performances. We introduce traditional folk games and sports to the children in the first session, while the children take the initiative in stage different performances based on regional folk form in the
Second one, choosing themes developed from story-telling sessions. So far,  3 meetings have taken place.
We compile and publish a book every year from a selection children’s writing from the story telling and world film screenings sessions. So far till 2014 we have published 4 books that are circulated within and outside Sri Lanka.