In Kalutara is the second largest and most high-risk prison in Sri Lanka. On average there are 900 men and approximately 300 women in separate quarters serving out their sentences. We make regular visits to the prison specifically for those women with small children. Children up to the age of five are allowed to stay with their mothers after which they have to be relocated either to relatives or to an orphanage. The facilities for these young women were intolerably poor. Foundation Kalapuwa was given permission to improve conditions with floor tiles, toilets, showers, beds, mosquito nets and ventilators. We have an excellent working relationship with the governor of the prison and where necessary he put male prisoners to work making the alterations. This has resulted in a clean and light dormitory and bathroom for the mothers and children.
Whenever possible we make two visits to the prison. Firstly to make an appraisal of the number of women and children and their requirements. Some women are only on remand for a limited time and are later released which results in a fluctuation in numbers. We ask the women what the main requirements are for the children, nappies, soap, oil, extra food, clothes etc., and armed with this list a trip is made to local shops, These articles are personally delivered later to the prison.
We have also arranged that English lessons be given in the prison. This a voluntary program and available to all the women and is given free of charge in the hope that after their release they may have a better chance of finding work, for example within the tourist industry where a basic knowledge of English is essential. Being incarcerated in a Singhalese prison is dismal and any distraction to the daily routine is very welcome.