Daya Mina vocational training centre for mentally disabled young people in Sri Lanka

Description of the project

The goal of Daya Mina is to teach mentally disabled young people from 13 to 14 years, life skills that will enable them to participate in work processes, sport and recreation. Such life skills include learning social communication skills, self-reliance and participation in social activities.
Daya Mina students have, for instance, learned to shop confidently in local supermarkets, to deal with household tasks, to carry out catering activities, to act as a guide for other disabled youngsters, to participate in para-athletics and work in home industries (e.g. making carpets) and at McDonalds.

Why is this project so important?

In Sri Lanka, mentally challenged people are among the least accepted members of society. They are considered incurable and it is believed that there is no prospect of change and progress. People with this disability - caused by, for example, meningitis, lack of oxygen at birth or a form of autism or Down's syndrome - can often develop well, within their possibilities, but that special support is needed, which unfortunately is scarcely present in Sri Lanka.

Daya Mina has been working for this group of young people for the past 25 years. Daya Mina is a centre for the mentally disabled in Sri Lanka founded in 1989 by the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary (SCJM). The centre has been supported since 1998 by the foundation established in the Netherlands that carries out fundraising (for example for buildings and means of transport) for Daya Mina in Sri Lanka. The vision of Daya Mina is that everyone should have the opportunity to live its life fully, regardless of race or caste or belief.

The Daya Mina centre in Colombo is intended for young people who are unable to function adequately, independently or appropriately because of a disability or because they have difficulty learning. They need specialised training or education to be able to take their rightful place in society and make a contribution to society.

Daya Mina has three adjacent buildings with 14 classrooms, a floor for students to learn to live independently and a house where some students (accompanied) live independently. Because of the increasing social acceptance, the number of students has grown in recent years to a record 62 students. They are supported and guided by 12 employees and a number of local and international volunteers.

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Where do we stand at the moment?

In recent years, the Van Doorn Foundation has made several financial contributions to Daya Mina, with which a number of students could be given a training in life skills. Some of them are now sufficiently skilled to be able to move on to learning concrete professional skills.

Special training centres for young people with disabilities can teach these young people valuable life and professional skills, as well as provide them useful work experience through practical production activities. However, young people with disabilities are often excluded from this process of "learning by doing" because of a biased judgment of society and family or simply because suitable learning techniques that are necessary for these young people are not there.

The Daya Mina centre therefore wants to offer vocational education to some of the mentally disabled young people. In the first instance, the centre wants to set up 3 training courses for which trainers and materials are needed. The training is intended for 26 of the 62 students of the centre and will last four years. The total costs for the four years training are estimated at € 14,000:

  1. A trainer, fabrics, paint and brushes are required for training in painting fabrics - costs: € 3,750;
  2. A trainer, baking machines and kitchen utensils are required for training in baking bread and pastries - costs: € 5,350, and
  3. Sewing machines and sewing supplies are required for training in clothing - costs: € 4,900.


Over a period of four years, Daya Mina in Sri Lanka will make available € 2,200, the Daya Mina Foundation in the Netherlands € 5,400 and the Van Doorn Foundation € 6,400 (€ 1,600 per year).

A fundraising campaign during the 70th anniversary of Paul, our founder and treasurer, yielded the amount for the first year (€ 800 collected during the anniversary, doubled by the founder himself) so we can start!

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  • A moving and impressive visit to Daya Mina

    Today's work visit of Paul, our treasurer, to Daya Mina Special Centre in Colombo (Sri Lanka) was instructive, moving and commanded a lot of respect. In this centre, mentally disabled young people learn skills that enable them to participate in society, work processes, sport and recreation.


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