Meeting lots people in Sri Lanka who work for non-profits or other socially-minded organizations, I’ve had the opportunity to share the Emerge story quite often. And invariably after I’ve explained everything we do, people begin to ask lots of questions. Understandably one of the most common is “What happens to the girls and their children?” And it’s a hard question to answer, because each girl is unique and each girl has a different story. Depending on when she got pregnant, when she arrived at Ma-Sevana, and when she leaves, there are many potential scenarios.
If a girl became pregnant very young, and her court case has taken a long time, she may have a 5 or 6 year old child. And while Suwasetha (the social welfare arm of Sarvodaya that runs Ma-Sevana and the VTC) wants to keep the mother and child together if possible, by the time the children become that age they need to attend school, and are therefore transfered to another home.
On the other hand, if a girl became pregnant when she was older, say 16, her child may stay at Ma-Sevana when she turns 18 and must be transfered to a different facility. There are a multitude of stories, and explaining that has made me realize how important it is for Emerge to continue helping these young women to express their individuality and uniqueness. That’s what our organization is based on: a concept that everyone is different and everyone has different needs.
This past week I’ve been working hard on trying to develop a protocol for our Bead Program. In the most general sense, this document describes the way Emerge will operate inside Ma-Sevana, the Vocational Training Center (VTC), and ideally other girls homes around the island.
As I’ve been working on this, I’ve come to understand that this program needs to be flexible enough to celebrate the individuality of each girl, while still incorporating a workable structure and metrics of success. Thinking through this balance has been a very interesting process, and one that I didn’t fully understand until I met the young women themselves.
And I love that about Emerge. I love that every single person matters.
Until next time, Ellen
*Photo was taken at the VTC