Emerge Lanka Foundation, a Sri Lankan organization that empowers abused girls, was selected as Runner-up at Project Inspire 2015 held in Singapore last Friday (13 November). Project Inspire is a worldwide social impact competition run by the Singapore Committee for UN Women and MasterCard. Emerge Lanka Foundation was the only Sri Lankan organization that was selected as a finalist out of more than 430 applications. As Runner-up, Emerge Lanka won an award from Hilton Worldwide to support expansion of its programmes.
"Over the past year, we’ve been so inspired to see our girls realizing their dreams, including building a home, studying for A/Ls or nursing, and receiving leadership awards,” said Mumtaz Faleel, Emerge Lanka’s Country Manager. “We are excited that this grant gives us the opportunity to reach more inspiring and courageous girls and strengthen our community of change makers and leaders."
Emerge Lanka Foundation is a charitable organization that supports Sri Lankan girls, ages 10-18, who have been removed from their homes due to past abuse or the threat of abuse and are courageously testifying in court. These girls are placed in shelters that typically lack resources and educational opportunities. Emerge partners with these shelters and operates a mobile classroom, teaching the girls the business and life skills needed for self-sufficiency. Emerge currently works in three homes with up to 85 teenage girls at a time and aims to expand its operations.
Emerge presented its flagship programme Beads-to-Business to a panel of seven eminent Project Inspire judges. In this programme, girls learn to make high quality jewellery as a therapeutic and practical teaching tool. The act of creating the jewellery helps girls heal from the trauma they have faced. Jewellery is also used as a hands-on tool to teach business skills. Participants progress through a self-paced workbook that prepares them to start their own small businesses. The curriculum tackles concepts such as budgeting, inventory management, product development, marketing, branding, and financing. The jewellery created in the programme is sold in outlets such as Barefoot, Buddhi Batiks, and Selyn. These pieces are also sold at events such as the International Christmas Charity Bazaar which will be held on 29 November at Hilton Residencies. Each unique piece directly benefits its creator, giving these young women a financial foundation on which they can start their adult lives when they exit the shelter.
The Project Inspire prize will help Emerge Lanka expand its programme to a new shelter in early 2016. Project Inspire is an annual impact competition that shines a light on growing organizations who are dedicated to making positive change in the world. Being placed second among 10 finalists from various countries and cultures is a remarkable feat and a testament to Emerge Lanka’s impact. This is no doubt a huge accomplishment for the Emerge Lanka team, but even more so for the many survivors who they support, and who go through tribulations every day.