Sethmini Caritas Ratnapura have been implementing a number of development programmes for the betterment of the plantation community in the Sabaragamuwa Province. Estate workers in this region suffer due to poverty, daily wage system, line rooms, lack of access to safe water, low level of education, poor access to health, transport facilities and language barriers in the plantation sector.
In response to this condition, the programme ‘Empowerment of Green Gold Harvesters by Strengthening of Workers’ Rights’ supported by Misereor was implemented in three estates (Matuwagala, Lellopitiya, Rambukkanda & Devalakanda). In 2021, the Galaboda Estate was added to the project in order to create leadership among the estate community. Community members were guided to form community institutions such as the Self Help Groups, Community Based Organizations and Vigilant Committees in order strengthen themselves to help their community.
This project also focused on youth grooming them to be instrumental for community development. Multiple community welfare projects were also implemented such as renovating water supply systems, community centers, religious places, child development centers and dispensaries, libraries etc. Community leaders were capacitated with training programs conducted both, at the diocesan and national level. Through mobile legal clinics the project provided legal documents in collaboration with government officials. As an outcome of this programme, healthy relationships with the government institutions and the estate management was also established.
In addition to the above, Caritas Ratnapura implemented a special project to improve sanitation facilities in the Doloswala Estate with the support of Caritas Italiana. The estate management gave their support by allocating land. Taking advantage of the Covid 19 lock down, with the support of community leaders and the parish priest, the beneficiary families succeeded in completing the construction of toilets in time. Since the people contributed through labour for the earthwork we were able to save money, another five families were also given new toilets. Though we initially planned for 15 toilets, it was increased to 20 toilets. Construction of new toilets enhanced their privacy, sanitary habits and health conditions.
In the meantime, awareness sessions were conducted by the Public Health Inspector focusing on Good Health and sanitation practices. They were also made aware of the prevention measures of Covid-19 and guidelines to be followed during quarantine.