See where we work:

Sri Lanka

The Salesians of Don Bosco have been operating in Sri Lanka since 1956. In 1963, missionaries set up their first technical institute. Since then, they have established 17 more in locations across the country.

Although civil war in the country ended in 2009, many people are still suffering from its effects. Unemployment among youth in Sri Lanka stems from the decades-long war, combined with deeply entrenched social factors such as class, ethnicity and caste. Thousands of children lost one or both parents in the conflict and the number of households headed by women increased, negatively impacting the poverty rate in the country.

Salesian missionaries focus their efforts on meeting basic needs, in addition to offering educational and social development services for impoverished youth and their families.

More Missions In Sri Lanka

Provide technical & vocational training

The Don Bosco Vocational Training Center equips its students with the skills they need to compete in the labor market by offering courses in hotel management, electrical and mechanical engineering, computers and more. The Center is also serving local employers by providing them a well-trained labor force.

Many of the technical school’s students are school dropouts seeking a second chance. The school is accessible to poor youth, regardless of their religious affiliation, who are looking to dedicate themselves to overcoming the challenging labor conditions in the country.

Rescue children facing adversity

Salesian missionaries operate Mary Help of Christians House in Negombo, home to 173 girl soldiers. In addition to offering the basics of food, clothing and shelter, the sisters focus on the physical and psychological health of the girls. Their dedication and support has enabled the girls to come a long way in the past few years. Nearly half of them are attending classes between the 6th and 8th grade levels, while several of the older girls are taking professional courses.

Physical wounds heal over time but the emotional and psychological wounds that both male and female child soldiers face can take a lifetime to heal. The emotional support, education and job placement provided by the Salesians play a large role in helping youth come to terms with their circumstances and preparing them for a brighter future.

Empower girls & women through education

Girls were used as soldiers in the same way as boys during the country’s civil war, but they also face gender-based violence. Reports of sexual exploitation, human trafficking and forced prostitution were all too common. In addition to the typical traumas of war, girls were subjected to unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and social stigma making it difficult, if not impossible, to reintegrate back into their communities.

Salesian missionaries worked with child soldiers at a rehabilitation center in Colombo. It was first opened to assist “at-risk” street children and young victims of sexual abuse, but expanded to provide therapy and jobs skills training to child soldiers.

Salesian Missions also had a particular focus on displaced women and children in the region. Women and children were believed to make up more than 80 percent of displaced populations in Sri Lanka. After becoming widows in the war, women were in urgent need of employment and livelihood opportunities. Many youth were forced into becoming soldiers during the conflict, and the Sri Lankan government asked Salesian missionaries to take in nearly 500 rescued child soldiers who had nowhere else to go.

Salesian missionaries responded to the crisis with technical training and education that helped women and youth learn to help themselves and increase the capacity of their families and their communities.

Respond to disasters & emergencies

In 2015, Sri Lanka’s southwest monsoon season brought unusually heavy rains even for the season, causing major floods and landslides. The flooding, believed to be the worst flooding in 14 years, brought death and devastation. Many people in the area suffered terrible losses with their homes and personal possessions destroyed. Salesian missionaries helped with the immediate relief and then with the rebuilding of their homes and lives.

To provide the most efficient relief, Salesian missionaries in Sri Lanka set up their own Disaster Mitigation and Relief Unit in the provincial house due to the threat to the country from torrential rain, cyclones, floods, landslides, heat waves and droughts, which have been occurring on a more frequent basis. The Unit allows missionaries to be well equipped for disaster preparedness to effectively mitigate foreseeable and predictable disasters, coordinate relief work and help with post-disaster resettlement, if needed.

Sixty boys are receiving education and shelter, along with having their basic needs met, at Don Bosco Murunkan, located in Mannar, thanks to donor funding received from Salesian Missions. This was particularly helpful in keeping these boys safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these students are orphans or only have one parent, usually their mother, and are unable to pay their expenses at Don Bosco Murunkan. The funding ensures they are able to continue to receive their education in a safe and supportive environment while being fed nutritious meals to address the under-nourishment many have suffered.

Respond to refugee needs

Salesian Missions received funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration to conduct its New Beginnings program for Sri Lankan Refugees in Tamil Nadu, India. Since 1983, ethnic violence in Sri Lanka has forced tens of thousands of Sri Lankan Tamils from their homeland in search of safety and a new life in Tamil Nadu, India. According to UNHCR, there are close to 140,000 Sri Lankan refugees in 65 countries, with almost 70,000 in refugee camps in Tamil Nadu.

Refugees face many challenges as they begin to make a new life in their host countries. Sri Lankan Tamils are unique in that their host population in Tamil Nadu is also ethnically Tamil. While Sri Lankan refugees share a common language and customs with their host community, they still struggle to gain marketable skills and find livable wage employment.

Since 2010, Salesian Missions has been providing its New Beginnings program for young male and female Sri Lankan refugees who have been living in refugee camps in 15 target districts in India. Salesian missionaries are serving refugees by providing vocational training through a network of nine Salesian-run Don Bosco schools spread across southeast India. In addition, women are also benefiting from refugee camp-based small business incubator programs. The New Beginnings program provides market-conscious vocational and technical skills training that results in livable wage employment, allowing trainees to better support themselves and their families. Many refugees enter the program with few, if any, job prospects or with a history of low paid part-time work experience which is typically unskilled and often dangerous and exploitative.

Deliver essential equipment & supplies

Two shipments of goods are making a major impact on the lives of the most vulnerable youth and their families in communities in Sri Lanka. A shipment of 250 baby strollers made its way to four Salesian-run sites that serve 811 children in need and provide assistance to needy families. The baby strollers — donated by Jeep and delivered through Kids in Distressed Situations, Inc., (K.I.D.S.) — were distributed to Salesian-run sites in Sri Lanka, including child development centers caring for abandoned children with disabilities. The strollers will aid staff in caring for and transporting children with disabilities more effectively.

Dulitha, a 6-year-old boy with cerebral palsy, is one of the children who will benefit greatly. Unable to walk and abandoned as an infant, he relies on his caretakers at the center. Previously, the only option was to carry Dulitha so he could take part in activities. However, with so many children to care for this was nearly impossible.

A donation of clothing and outdoor apparel reached 1,233 children in nine locations. Dinesh, a 12-year-old boy who lives in Bandarawela received a new jacket — the first jacket he has ever owned. Dinesh is from a poor family and has two siblings, a father who works at a nearby farm and a mother who works as a part-time cook.


From Sri Lanka

Fund a project

From Sri Lanka

WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY: Salesian Missions highlights initiatives that care for and protect environment

Youth have launched important projects to help their communities and beyond. NEW ROCHELLE, NY (June 5, 2022) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and the inter

GLOBAL: Funding supports most vulnerable during pandemic with food and prevention measures

Salesian Missions funds COVID-19-related projects to provide nutritional support and prevention measures in countries around the globe. NEW ROCHELLE, NY (June 2, 2021) When the global COVID-19 pandemic struck and countries began l

SRI LANKA: 60 boys receive education and shelter, have basic needs met at Don Bosco Murunkan thanks to Salesian Missions donor funding

The funding ensures these young students are able to continue their education in a safe and supportive environment while being fed nutritious meals during the pandemic. NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Oct. 22, 2020) Sixty boys are receiving edu

GLOBAL: More children at risk of life-threatening malnutrition due to COVID-19, says new global report

Salesian Missions is fighting hunger around the globe through nutrition projects supported by partners to provide ongoing food relief. NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Aug. 7, 2020) Worldwide, an additional 6.7 million children under the age of

Help for Sri Lanka’s Flood Victims

On Dec. 26 in Sri Lanka, a week of non-stop torrential rains unleashed nature’s fury -- triggering catastrophic flooding and mudslides that killed at least 39 people and forced more than one million men, women and children f

Donations from Salesian Missions Partners Help Orphans, Needy Families in Sri Lanka

NEW ROCHELLE, NY & NEGOMBO, SRI LANKA (Oct. 10, 2012) Two recent shipments of goods are making a major impact on the lives of the most vulnerable youth and their families in communities in Sri Lanka. Recently, a shipment of 25

DAY OF THE GIRL: Salesian Missions Highlights Programs around the Globe that Empower Girls through Education, Opportunity

 NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Oct. 11, 2012) The first-ever International Day of the Girl Child was recognized on Oct. 11, 2012. Established to promote equal treatment and opportunities for girls, the International Day is an acknowledgm

In Sri Lanka: Disabled Children Get Life-Changing Early Christmas Present

Six years ago in Sri Lanka, a little baby boy named Dulitha was born prematurely and diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Abandoned by his mother in the hospital, the baby was placed in the care of the Salesians. But his inability to wa

Sri Lanka: Refugees Get “New Beginnings”

For Sri Lankan refugees who fled a vicious ethnic conflict in their own country, there is little choice but to seek safety at refugee camps in India. Many do not have the resources to return to Sri Lanka, and many are fearful to r

SRI LANKA: Salesians Give Child Soldiers Escape Route, Help Girl Soldiers Overcome Trauma

NEW ROCHELLE, NY & COLOMBO, SRI LANKA (April 16, 2012) - Salesians are fighting the recruitment of child soldiers—even girls—in Sri Lanka, and working to heal the wounds of those forced to take part in the country&

Funding Opportunities

in Sri Lanka

Agriculture Training Programs

Salesian Missions includes agriculture in its vocational training programs – to ensure that youth of Rwanda learn better agricultural practices as well as keep the school self-sustaining in the face of the country’s food shortages.

Get Involved

Feed a Child

Salesian Missions includes agriculture in its vocational training programs – to ensure that youth of Rwanda learn better agricultural practices as well as keep the school self-sustaining in the face of the country’s food shortages.

Give Now

Technology Program

Salesian Missions includes agriculture in its vocational training programs – to ensure that youth of Rwanda learn better agricultural practices as well as keep the school self-sustaining in the face of the country’s food shortages.

Learn More