Training for mentally disabled young people in Sri Lanka
Colombo, Sri Lanka

Through a multi-year partnership with DAYA MINA life skill and vocational training is being provided to mentally challenged young people.

In a first phase (2012-2016) individual scholarships for life skills were provided for those whose parents could not afford the fees.

In a second phase (2018-2022) three vocational training courses (fabric painting and making tablecloths and placemats; candle design and production; and host baking).

For a third phase (2023-2027), funds are needed for additional training equipment and material for the existing vocational training courses and to setup two new training course (in horticulture and cooking). This four-year program is estimated to cost   € 18,000 for staff, training equipment and material or annually in average € 4,500.

Daya Mina foundation Sri Lanka will contribute € 500, Daya Mina foundation Netherlands € 1,500, and the Van Doorn Foundation wants to contribute the remaining € 2,500 or for a period of four years € 10,000.

Amount required: € 10,000.- in four years
(€ 2,500.- per year)

Amount collected: € 4,594

Sponsor: Wilde Ganzen Foundation

Project information
The situation

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.

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 staff-members and several local and international volunteers.

The importance of the project

The goal of Daya Mina is to teach mentally disabled young people, 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.

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.

The implementing organisation

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 Daya Mina 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.

Read more about Daya Mina? Have a look at

The envisaged project results

The Daya Mina centre offer life skills training to 62 mentally challenged young people. During the second phase vocational training was also provided to 26 of the 62 students of the centre. Daya Mina provides training in fabric painting (18 trainees), host making (12 trainees) and candle making (32 trainees), the training is more or less continuous (occupational therapy). In the spring of 2019, the founder and treasurer of the Van Doorn Foundation paid a visit to the Daya Mina’s Centre. The working visit was instructive and moving and commanded a lot of respect. The young people present were incredibly eager to learn skills and proudly showed their creations. Many, clearly have talent painting fabrics that are then used to make clothes, tablecloths, and napkins.

During the third phase the same number of trainees (62) will continue the occupational therapy (fabric painting, host making and candle making) or follow the new course cooking / baking and horticulture / home gardening.

The chance of sustainability

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

Gradually the students acquire life skills and vocational skills that enable them to participate in daily life and work processes. Some 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.

The vocational training (in addition to life skill training) allows to generate revenues from the sales of painted fabrics, hosts and candles. The same is expected from cooking and baking (catering activities).  These revenues allows Daya Mina to provide its own contribution to the life skills and vocational training activities.

The required funds

For this third phase, funds are needed for the instructors, training equipment and material. The four-year program is estimated to cost € 18,000. – (± € 4,100. – for staff, ± € 7,200. – for training equipment and ± € 6,700. – for training material) or annually in average € 4,500. –

Daya Mina foundation Sri Lanka will contribute € 2,000. -, Daya Mina foundation Netherlands € 6,000,- and the Van Doorn Foundation wants to contribute the remaining € 10,000.- (or annually € 2,500.-) for which the Van Doorn Foundation is looking for sponsors!