A college director will be jetting off to provide voluntary support to disabled, abused and disadvantaged women and children in Sri Lanka this month.
Marcia Summers, 50, who is Director of Technical Industries and Skills for Life at The College of Haringey Enfield and North East London (CONEL), has supported the Women’s Development Centre for the past four years.
The Women’s Development Centre is a non-governmental organisation that has been working to improve the lives of women in Sri Lanka since the mid-1980s. The centre is the largest refuge shelter in the country and is desperately short of funding.
Marcia and her son Joe, aged 14, will by flying out to the capital Colombo on 30 March before making an 84-mile journey in-land to the centre in Kandy.
“This year I will be spending my time at a vocational training centre for young people with disabilities, visiting very poor villages in the old tea plantation areas and providing support at a refuge for young girls who have been abused and often been made pregnant through the abuse,” said Marcia.
“I provide management support in the form of training and coaching, and my son collects items at his school and from his friends to take out there so he can hand over to those in need. It’s always a hugely enriching experience.”
The Women’s Development Centre started as a project within the Presbyterian Church in Kandy by the late Pearl Stephen and later expanded to support disadvantaged women irrespective of their culture, religion or social standing. It provides help through community development and rehabilitation, a school programme, health unit and crisis intervention centre.
Marcia heard about the organisation through a friend of her cousin, who was a trustee for Shining Life Children’s Trust, a UK charity that raises funds to support underprivileged children in Sri Lanka.
She has funded each of her trips and covered any expenses out of her own pocket. However, Marcia is looking to raise £500 to support the work of the centre and is also asking for donation of light stationery items to take to pre-schools and the vocational training centre.
Cash donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/marcia-summers-1 until 14 April. Any stationery items must be delivered to the College’s Tottenham Centre by 29 March.
Follow Marcia and Joe’s trip on Twitter and on their JustGiving page.