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About us

We started out as Friends of Prisoners children in a small way. It was actually the brainchild of Sr. Immaculate de Alwis & Mrs Priyanthy Dissanayake. They were concerned when prisoners they visited in Welikada expressed their anguish about their children. So, what started as a simple gesture towards 47 children in 2005 is - thanks to the kind support of concerned citizens and donors from overseas - catering for nearly 380 children at the end of 2016.

When we interact with these children we find that more than the money we give them - they value the fact that society supports them - they no longer feel stigmatized as a child of a criminal - they no longer feel that they too are being punished for a crime they did not commit. Their desire to succeed and avoid falling into the cycle of criminality is strong. We have had many success stories but the brightest star is one of our first children and she completed her honours degree at the University of Kelaniya. She is an inspiration to the rest of our children and to us , by demonstrating how a little help can change the future

Our patrons:

  • Sr. Mary Immaculate (Founding Patron)
  • Mrs.Neela Marrikkar
  • Ms.Shiromal Cooray
  • Mr. Rohan De Silva
Our committee:
  • Sr. Dhammi Fernando – Chairperson
  • Ms. Florine Cassim Marzook – Secretary
  • Mr. Lasantha Pieries – Treasurer
  • Ms. Priyanthy Dissanayake
  • Ms. Shehara Jayawardana
  • Ms. Jani Perera
  • Ms. Cecilia Muttukumaru
  • Ms. Coralie Pietersz
  • Ms. Amanthi Perera
  • Ms. Niranthi Boteju

Our patrons are respected figures in the Sri Lanka business community and are very committed to our cause.
Our small but very dedicated committee members are focused on giving of their best to these 'forgotten children' and avidly look forward to meeting up with them every year.

We are registered as a 'social service organization' as required by the Ministry of Social Welfare - Reg.no: FL-124404


Message From Chairperson

Let me first express my heartfelt appreciation of a great woman who conceived in her heart a passionate love for the most marginalized ones in the society. She is none other than Rev. Sr. Immaculate de Alwis; the foundress of “Friends of Prisoner’s Children”. I feel privileged to be appointed as the successor of Rev. Sr. Immaculate, the foundress of this great mission.

When you hear the word “criminal”, the spontaneous reaction could be to keep a distance. It is not everyone who is able to see the precious human being behind that criminal. It is not everyone who has the courage to love that human being. “Friends of Prisoners’ Children” is a collection of compassionate hearts who pooled their talents and resources to light the way of innocent children who are marginalized just because their parents have committed a crime. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the committee members who shoulder the main tasks of our project and to all the scholarship sponsors who join hands with us from near and far, and also to our benefactors who are ever willing to support us to organize our special events for the families of prisoners, through their generous contributions.

I assure you all my constant prayers and God’s choicest blessing upon you and your families.

- Sr. Dhammi Fernando

ABOUT FOUNDER

Some years ago, I met Sr. Immaculate De Alwis at All Saints Church in Borella. She greeted me in her own inimitable style, with her warm, welcoming joyous smile and that little twinkle in her eye. She held both my hands, looked me straight in the eye and told me about the little project she was doing with Priyanthi at the Prisons. She was collecting Rs. 6,000 from anyone who cared to listen to her and wanted to support the cause she detailed to me so passionately.

I have known Sr. Immaculate for almost 5 decades. I was one of her students at St. Bridget’s Convent, Colombo, when she was its dynamic Principal. She instilled so much discipline into her pupils and though strict and firm was extremely compassionate, caring and very understanding. Of course no one looked forward to being summoned to the “Principal’s office”.

I had met her from time to time after I left St. Bridget’s. Each time she was involved in some activity assisting and empowering the marginalized in society, especially women. It could be working with the “juki girls” in the Free Trade Zone, counseling limitless number of youth and females, taking care of single mothers etc. etc.

However, this meeting was different. She managed to stir my emotions and asked me to get involved and help her in this project. She was working at the Welikada Prison and identifying children of prisoners who have been condemned for life or for many years and providing them with a monthly fee so they could continue with their education . Over the ensuing years she managed to convince an entire army of mainly exBridgeteens who rallied around her to continue with her noble initiative. A kind gesture that was started giving way Rs. 6000 per year to ensure an innocent child’s education is not disrupted because one or both of his/her parents were imprisoned has now grown leaps and bounds. This informal “gathering” was formalized as “Friends of Prisoners Children “ and we now contribute Rs.18,000 per year for approximately 300 children of Prisoners at Welikeda and Magazine prisons. She did spend a lot of time with the children and their care giver and arranged many events to help make their lives less stressful and to make them feel inclusive and not ostracized in society. She continuously explained to them the importance of an education and encouraged them to pursue their chosen passions even after leaving school. Whilst doing this she also gave the opportunity to us her former students to share our time with others and to actively engage in helping those that most need us.

She has touched and enriched and empowered many lives and I am eternally grateful that I was one of those privileged.

Thank you Sr. for being such an exceptional human being, though born into privilege you gave it all up and educated a generation of girls and now even boys who will always have you close in their hearts. May God Bless you and keep you in good health!

Shiromal Cooray

Managing Director - Jetwing Travels (Pvt) Ltd.