Diakonia - People change the world
Anuradha says that his teacher Samantha is his best friend.

Despite disabilities - Anuradha has started to see a new world

Disabled people are often stigmatised in the Sri Lankan society and opportunities of education and work are few. But thanks to guidance and coaching young Anuradha Udayanga has started to see a new world. Now he’s dreaming of selling the bricks and pots he has learnt to make.

Anuradha Udayanga is a 22 year old lively young man, but due to a brain injury he has learning disabilities. Previously he rarely slept more than three or four hours per night and used to have outbursts of anger and violence at home. His mother, Inoka Priyadarshani became depressed from the demands of caring for her disabled child and she didn’t know where to send him for further education and cognitive development after finishing school.

Things have improved thanks to training

But when she got in contact with Diakonia’s partner organization, Women’s Development Centre (WDC) and their vocational training centre, things changed for the better. WDC is working to improve the lives of disabled children and youth and gives trainings such as self-awareness, communication, livelihood activities and coping skills. WDC also provides guidance and coaching for the children to become more independent.

Anuradha has attended trainings at the centre since he was 15 years old, resulting in both new friends and the learning of a trade. Making bricks and pots is his favourite activity and he is very fond of his teacher, Samantha Perera. Since Samantha is deaf, the two have developed their own way of communication.  

The teacher is his best friend

“Sir Samantha is my best friend and my best teacher. I want to go to school, to be with my friends and I love to make bricks and pots”, Anuradha says stammering and with help of the interpretation of his mother Inoka.

Inoka says that Anuradha has developed a lot since he joined the vocational training centre. For example to work on time and cooperate with others. Now he is selling the bricks and pots he’s making at the centre, and he enjoys the extra money.

Now he is more self-confident

But the biggest achievement is that Anuradha has become more self-confident. Now Inoka is hoping Anuradha will be more independent and become a good entrepreneur who makes bricks and pots. 

“He doesn’t behave as a typical young man, but he is a good example of someone who has converted a disability into an opportunity. WDC helped him to change his life and I am really thankful”, she says proudly.

Story told to: Asif Jamiyoon, Programme Officer Sri Lanka