Devika Salomon is the founder of Sambol Foundation. I first met Devika through Airbnb. She was looking for a place to rent for her family a few years ago when she first just starting her mission Down South in Matara. She didn’t end up renting my place, but she ended up on the beach next door. We eventually met in person as fellow business and property owners. She was one of the first people I came out to about my abuse. When I needed a safe haven to go to she offered a bed in her shelter even before it was open. She organized a Women’s Protest in Matara that was a beautiful and uplifting event that drew activists, advocates, and allies together in solidarity. It was at this event that I started to network with other women and men who are bravely doing the work to shift the culture in Sri Lanka. It was at this event, too, that a flame was ignited to rise to the call and join the movement. I am forever grateful to Devika for passing this torch to me.
We are really looking forward to featuring Devika and her team at Sambol Foundation in the film! Below is a detailed report that the project manager, Inoka, prepared so you can learn about Sambol’s mission. (And in case you don’t know what sambol is, it’s the best kept secret about Sri Lankan culture and cuisine. It’s the most delicious and addicting condiment side dish that is a staple in the rice and curry diet. There are many versions of sambol, but the most popular is the ground coconut one. If you’ve never tasted coconut sambol before you’re in for a treat! But I digress…) Here is the update from Inoka:
We are a Non-Profit Oriented Organization based in Matara. We initiated our work by registering our organization as a Company Limited by Guarantee bearing registration number GA 218134.
LOCAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Devika Salomon (Chairman)
GOAL AND OBJECTIVES
The primary Goal of Sambol Foundation is to focus on the protection and education of women and children affected by violence, mainly from socially disadvantaged people in Sri Lanka. In order to achieve this common goal, we have set-up the following objectives to be accomplished though our organization offering safe refuge in a Shelter with foods and basic essentials. We provide short-term emergency accommodation, permanent residence and support in a safe environment that enables women and children to rebuild self-esteem and achieve control and fulfillment of their lives.
Providing free medical assistance for the women in need
Providing free Legal assistance
Offering opportunities’ for educational and vocational training
Raising awareness for women protection, empowerment and development
Exchanging experiences in promoting the empowerment of women
97% of the staff comprised with women including Local Manager, House mothers, Shelter care takers, counsellors and volunteers.
SAFE HOUSE MATARA
Primarily we are operating two premises to carry our functions on helping women and children. Main shelter house which is being operated confidentially while our administration and community office is openly reachable to everyone during office hours. However, with the excessive client referrals on seeking shelter facility we received recently, we had to transfer some of the stable families those who have been stayed long period at the safe house and mentally recovered, to our office centre in order to provide the spaces for upcoming severe cases. Therefore office spaces were rearranged and expanded further to cater both safe house facilities and official works. Additional staff also required and recruited. Accordingly, at present two safe house are being operated by us besides the administrative functions.
DAILY ROUTINES AND SERVICES OFFERED AT THE SHELTER
Following functions are being carried out
Services being offered to In-House Residents.
1. Provision of safe refuge by means of accommodation and with foods, sanitary and other basic needs. We have not specified time frames/ limitations as most organization does. As long as resident adhered to our rules and policies, they can enjoy our services
2. Counseling and therapies including family counseling when there is a need of psychological healings with counseling or therapies, residents are provided with these services through our counsellor.
3. Legal services for in-house residents and outside client referrals from Police Stations with the support of a legal officer who is dedicated to serve us and a network of lawyers, our clients are facilitated legally.
4. Medical services
- Psychiatric treatments
- Midwives in house visit, appointment at midwife centres
- Private channelling, scanning, dental and laboratory tests
- Hospitalisation on delivery
- Baby care
- Follow up clinics
- Family planning
5. Involvement of legal adoption matters with the Sri Lanka probation office. We involve legal adaption matters, with 100% involvement with officer of Sri Lanka Probation and medical officers at government hospitals.
6. Directions for suitable job opportunities with the support of external relationships we have in garment factories, we facilitate over residents to work. However this purely depend on the ages of their children. Mealtime during their stay at the shelter they are given sewing lessons.
7. Frequent follow up calls and services. Our responsibility towards our clients are not limited to the time they are being with us.
Even after check out, we follow them up and do whatever necessitates if its needed
PROGRAMS BEING OFFERED TO IN-HOUSE RESIDENTS. FOLLOWING ACTIVITIES ARE AVAILABLE FOR IN-HOUSE RESIDENTS.
2. Art therapy and painting lessons
3. Handcraft & mini pottery works
4. Yoga session practices
5. Sewing lessons
6. Dancing classes
7. Educational facilities
- Short hand and typing classes. We support women with good educational background to enroll short and typing course from which a government job can be secured.
- English classes. We have a qualified English teacher who teaches English according to school syllabus
- Government school online class. During the period of curfew and travel restrictions, government school conduct online classes for school children. We facilitates children of our residents to get connected with them.
- Physical classes. Our employees are also take some time to teach subjects like Mathematics/ Science for our residents and children.
All Class fees, devices, data connection charges and study material are being provided by us.
PLANS FOR THE LONG RUN
As we currently operate on the leasehold properties, in the near future we are planning to construct the ‘Sambol Safe Village’ on our own land. To achieve this massive goal, we have already taken first step by acquiring a quite large piece of land. Construction of the main shelter house can be completed during the next if the funds are obtained. Later, a fully equipped workshop and a building for educational activities are also in in our pipeline to build-up in our Village. Upon completion of the workshop, we will be able to provide on-the-job training for residents securing a good market for the items manufactured in the workshop.
Please learn more about this amazing initiative and consider making a donation to Sambol Foundation by visiting their site sambolfoundation.org