Sri Lanka Girl Guides Association is one of four WAGGGS Membership organisations that take part in the Girl Powered Nutrition (GPN) programme aiming to reduce the disproportionate impact of malnutrition in girls and young women in the country. One part of the programme allocates funds to certain areas, named Action Hubs to complete community-based activities.
In the far north of Sri Lanka, Girl Guides have been implementing a Girl Powered Nutrition Community Action Hub at Thellipalai Union College. There are more than 1000 children, boys and girls, studying at this school with many coming from deprived communities and war affected districts of the Northern Province. Many children face the effects of poverty daily, which can often mean access to nutritious food is a big challenge for these children.
Tackling the challenges faced by our community
Based on these challenges faced by children at Thellipalai Union College, Girl Guides developed their ‘Dairy Project’ to support the nutrition of malnourished boys and girls at the school.
“We, the Girl Guides of Thellipalai Union College had a very clear understanding and knowledge about the importance and need for children to eat nutritious food, upon completion of our GPN badge activities. Together with our Guide Leader, we had lengthy discussions at our weekly meetings on how these messages could be communicated to all schoolchildren and school community members too.”
The GPN Action Hub discussed a number of project areas, ways of raising funds, and getting approval for their project. Girl Guides first arranged a meeting with their Principal, who shared records with the girls of the number of malnourished children in the school. Subsequently, alongside their Principal, the girls agreed on a project to help meet some of the targets in the School Nutrition Plan.
“As advised by our Principal, we first formed a working group. Funding was going to be a key element for any project we delivered. To tackle this challenge, we first approached the SLGGA Northern Provincial Commissioner and the GPN Country Project Manager. They helped to guide our application to be approved for the Girl Powered Nutrition Community Action Hub.”
A unique and innovative Community Action Hub
The Thellipalai Union College Dairy Project is a unique and innovative project for Girl Powered Nutrition. Girl Guides decided to use the Community Action Hub funding to purchase a dairy cow for the school, providing one cup of milk every day to 50 schoolchildren, on a rotating basis to reach approximately 250 children in just one week.
Throughout weekends and school holidays, the milk was sold to community members to generate enough revenue to purchase a second dairy cow for the school, reaching even more children to reap the nutritious benefits of drinking fresh milk.
“Our principal was so generous in both his support of the project and allocating space for putting up a cow shed and arranging the services of the school gardener for care and management of the cows. He also helped us to facilitate a discussion with the Government Veterinary Surgeon in helping us to identify dairy cows that were healthy and in good condition.”
The Girl Guides soon had many community members coming forward to volunteer their time and skills to help with their project. Due to the success of the project so far, the Girl Guides also have plans to establish a school organic garden, growing fruit and vegetables that can be used in nutritious school dinners.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis and subsequent school closures has put the Dairy Project on hold for now. However, the willingness of the community gives the girls faith it will continue.
“We are very confident to continue with our planned activities once the schools are reopened. We also take this opportunity to thank WAGGGS and SLGGA for guiding us and supporting us to give priority to children’s health and nutrition.”