In January I visited Colombo, Sri Lanka, to photograph and write about the work of the British Council’s Active Citizens programme – with whom I have previously visited Sudan, Serbia and the Outer Hebrides.
As well as documenting Active Citizens training sessions and talks, I also visited the Islamic Centre for the Physically Handicapped (ICPH).
As well as maths, science and literacy classes and vocational courses in tailoring, jewellery making, and handicrafts, the school provides braille and sign language tuition in Sri Lanka’s three different languages; English, Sinhalese and Tamil.
ICPH costs just £43,000 a year to run.
However, there is a problem with lack of access to Braille books in Tamil and Sinhalese – they just don’t exist – which means that, despite a high standard of education, the children’s progress is hampered by a lack of resources.
Local volunteers have worked alongside ICPH to raise awareness of disability issues in Sri Lanka. They have successfully campaigned for businesses to have quotas for disabled employees, and established a disabled child sponsorship scheme.
But there is still a long way to go.