Vocational training is offered in different departments and programmes of WDC. The main idea behind this is to strengthen the talents of vulnerable persons in society and to give them opportunities to improve their situation and invest in their future. The main vocational training centres of WDC are situated at the Ampitiya VTC for differently abled youth, and the Crisis Intervention Centre, Haragama for survivors of gender based violence. The trainings provided range from sewing, weaving, carpentry, gardening, animal husbandry, candle making, assisting in sales through the ‘Ape Kade’ (a WDC run village store) etc. WDC trainers as well as external volunteers- both local and foreign- provide training to the students. The Ampitiya VTC is particularly unique as the teachers and trainers themselves are with impairments. Few international volunteer trainers often sell these products internationally and raise funds towards the running of the VT centres and also WDC run programmes.
Violence is often linked to poverty, which is why the WDC began the Women’s Entrepreneurship training programme – to help women reach a level of economic empowerment, and become active decision makers within their families as well as the community. Women have access to training in entrepreneurship skills development, especially business management and business planning, credit management, and also marketing. They also have access to livelihood loans, a micro-credit program to support small businesses. Loans can be as small as 5000 rupees, and yet this money can make a huge difference in helping women through start-up funding, or introducing their products to the market.
“The WDC has helped me in every aspect of my life. Because of that we have improved financially, and I have become one of the leaders of my community. The training that we have received from WDC for the last 14 years has helped to improve our standard of living personally and in our community. Life is much more comfortable now.” – (Ramya Kulatunga, woman entrepreneur, Gampola)
Youth entrepreneurship training
Through its work in vulnerable communities, the WDC has recognized that a lack of education or skills, along with poverty, forces youth to fall prey to drug abuse, violence or crime. WDC was able to extend its services to this vulnerable segment of society. With the aim of improving the educational and economic status of vulnerable youth, the WDC offers knowledge and skills development training as well as opportunities for self-employment and progress in life.
The youth selected for training were assembled through women’s groups within three selected districts. Over 500 youth have already received awareness on themes outlined in the general WDC programmes, and then were trained in skills such as soft toys and doll making, fabric painting, home gardening, horticulture, food technology, three-wheeler repair, house wiring, gem cutting, and other skill areas. Three Vocational Training Centres were set up in the three districts providing a permanent place for youth to access skills development services.
We have had many requests to continue these training courses, which were popular among the youth who saw their friends gaining opportunities towards securing income generation.
The trained youth together with the women engaged in self-employment, set up an Association for Micro Scale Entrepreneurs. The youth collaborate with the respective women’s forum and participate in trade fairs, gaining opportunities to market their products to an international and local audience. These young entrepreneurs also collaborate with the National Youth Council to participate in trade fairs/exhibitions.
Together with Women in Tourism Sri Lanka (WIT) the WDC is involved in a one-year project funded by the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation (MCIC). The project focuses on the promotion of Sri Lankan women so that they have increased access to gainful and fulfilling employment in the tourism industry to benefit from strong growth in this sector. WIT works with local partners and provides development opportunities for female entrepreneurs. Through its training sessions and radio program, Sancharika, on Kandurata FM, broadcasted on 107.3, 107.5, and 90.1 FM every Sunday from 7:30-8:00am, WIT wishes to encourage Sri Lankan women to empower themselves and their families by seeking employment in the growing tourism industry.
Community Based Rehabilitation training
In order to create social awareness on disability, the WDC conducts training programs for likeminded organizations, government officials, students, local women’s forums and teachers involved in working with differently abled persons. Our trained and experienced CBR staff members are equipped with the necessary knowledge, tools and resource material needed in conducting effective workshops. Most of the workshops are held at the WDC headquarters where women from all parts of Sri Lanka come and receive disability training. Through educating and providing awareness on disability the disabled community will be able to receive the services that they require. This is important since CBR strategies involve working closely with disabled persons and their families as well as service providers to remove barriers that result in the exclusion of disabled persons from full participation within the community. Integral and indispensable to this process is the development of effective training and communication skills of people working in CBR. For CBR to be an effective strategy it is essential that people engaged in CBR activities are able to train others in this field.
We have two types of programmes, a one-day programme and a one-week programme. One-day programme covers topics such as early identification of disabilities, and appropriate referrals, whilst the latter covers it more extensively on the same topics as well as on rehabilitation and social inclusion.
Apart from providing counselling services for survivors of gender-based violence, we also provide training for counsellors. Under this training programme, we particularly address the following target groups.
- School Teachers
- Community Leaders
- Government Officers (Police and Women Development Officers)
The WDC’s health unit programme reaches out to rural and vulnerable communities through the following training awareness programmes:
- Primary health awareness
- HIV/AIDS prevention,
- Drug awareness
Later training includes women and children’s rights, awareness on legal procedures, leadership development and alternative employment for commercial sex workers. Community Health Volunteers are trained every year and the Health unit staff work closely together with health professionals at local level.