Administration unit

Accounts, reports, recording and planning are initiated in this unit, along with, when needed, decision making. Obviously, planning is usually done in a consultative manner, with the staff team and parents. However in times of need and emergencies this unit will take the task on. The ‘buck also stops’ with this unit, bad practices such as wrong accounting, major reports and recordings not done are the responsibility of the Senior Management in this unit, along with bad planning, supervision, training and advice to staff. This is also were all the files and information pertaining to the whole project are kept either in Intermediate Technology terms or/and on paper.

The tools of the Administrative Unit include computers (with E-mail and Internet connection), telephone, facsimile and the general materials needed for administration. The hub of MENCAFEP – without the hub the wheel cannot turn, such is the case with Administrative Unit. 


Special education unit

This unit consists of children/ young people with learning difficulties due to various disabilities and as with most mental disabilities, reasons that nobody knows why a child/young person has a learning difficulty or is developmentally slow. Disabilities in this component are as follows; Hearing Impairment, Non/ Partially Sighted, Hyperactivity, Fragile X Syndrome, Epilepsy, Down’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Muscular Dystrophy, Poland’s Syndrome and Brain Damage.

With the children/ young people in this unit, a varied and basic rounded education is given, along with life skills to help the individual in the wider society. These skills include toilet training, personal hygiene, how to use a post office, shopping, public transport. This education through its activities is aiming to allow the child/young person to be as self-sufficient as possible. However, some students are being prepared for O/Level exams.


Sheltered workshop/ Vocational training unit

This unit caters for young people over the age of 16 years, again with varying degrees of disability; Autism, Down’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Hearing Impairment, Fragile X Syndrome, Microcephaly and Epilepsy. Due to the dire unemployment and under-employment the situation in MENCAFEP’s catchments area. Sheltered Workshop/Vocational Training has been developed. This means that young people are trained in various skills, depending on the severity of their disability.  These skills no matter how small are then used for the production of certain items, the majority of which are sold in the wider community. Young people are paid a small allowance per month for their work. Whenever possible community employment is looked for, over the years 20 young people have found employment in the wider community.


Profoundly disabled unit (Butterfly Group)

With this unit, working with the profoundly disabled has been called the ‘ultimate challenge’ for professionals, parents, family and the community at large. In this unit there are children/ young people with multiple handicaps in the one individual. This means children with severe brain damage, causing non/partial sight, hearing impairment, incontinence, no mobility, no speech, severe learning difficulties and understanding of their environment. Severe Cerebral Palsy and Microcephaly are prevalent in this unit. It is the only day-care facility for the profoundly handicapped child in Sri Lanka (possibly South Asia).

MENCAFEP has a philosophy on working with the severely handicapped child. MENCAFEP believes the purpose of the profoundly disabled is to be joyful. That is what they are there for, to bring joy, to give joy.


Integrated Play/Day/ Pre-School

The Integrated Pre-school is where, able and disabled children of Pre-school age learn together. It is the only such pre-school of its kind in Nuwara Eliya District, and one of very few in Sri Lanka. The idea behind this unit is to foster and promote the concept, that it is possible to educate disabled and able children together. Allowing children and their families with different abilities to interrelate with each other and learn about each other (child-to-child synopsis). By promoting this concept encouragement is given to the disabled child and the family, that they are part of their community with dignity. For too long there has a fear psychosis that if able children are educated alongside disabled children, the able child will become disabled or backward in their education, this unit proves the complete fallacy of this myth. Within this group there are children with Autism, Down’s syndrome, Development delay and Cerebral Palsy.

A stimulated and rounded education to both, the disabled and able child, in the child’s formative years of education is given. The overall curriculum is based on Montessori methods, with the needs of individual children taken into account.


Home visit and Outreach unit

This unit is being designed primarily, to meet the needs of child’s family and the disabled child within that family. Secondary to help and assist the family to inter-change with the community, therefore supporting the child and family in the community. This work with the family and child in the community, with community is very important in reaching the overall objective.


Satellite Centres

These centres are to make the service that MENCAFEP provides available, to all or more children with disabilities. MENCAFEP works with four satellite centres within the Nuwara Eliya District and eight in Batticaloa and Trincomalee. The outreach team monitor these centres. Twice a term we visit the centres and work with the staff. Also the staffs of these centres comes to MENCAFEP frequently; this is to improve the relationship between the staff and to share ideas with others.


Special seating unit

This unit does clinical measurements and builds special wheel chairs and special seats for children with severe disabilities.


Family group home unit

This unit provides community care for abandoned and at-risk disabled children. In the form of a house in the community neighbourhood, no different from the other houses in the locality, were children/ young people live together as family, hence the term Family Group Home (FGH). They are cared for by two housemothers and interact and function as a small family. The stress is on care in the community, in most cases abandoned and at risk disabled children are placed in large government institutions, were they are ‘out of sight and out of mind’. Through this type of care in the community, disabled children are seen to be part of the community, integrated and part of it. They also have a much better chance of survival in their chosen community, than in the Victorian Workhouse institutions that are dotted around the Sri Lankan landscape.


Respite care centre

MENCAFEP has now taken its unique work with disabled children and their families an exceptional step further. The setting up of residential cottages, enabling MENCAFEP to start its Respite Care Centre (RCC). These cottages are the first of its kind in Sri Lanka and South Asia. Again this is based on care in the community, similar to the Family Group Home, but short term care.

From the very early days of MENCAFEP the parents have asked the question;” what is going to happen to my child when I get old?” “What happens to my child when I die?”

As a disabled child grows older, parents also grow older, in some cases the disabled child becomes more and more difficult to handle. After 20 years of existence, MENCAFEP is trying to address this question through its Respite Care Centre. The idea of respite care is to give a rest and a break to the families who care for disabled children. The child can be placed in the RCC from a weekend to one month, depending on the families’ situation and will cater for the MENCAFEP family.

MENCAFEP believes that this care is needed as parents become exhausted and/or start to grow elderly. It gives them a rest, a chance to recharge the batteries with a better chance of the disabled child/young person staying with and in the family. It also gives the disabled child/young person who comes into the RCC a new environment to be stimulated by.

Nobody in Sri Lanka (South Asia?) is working with the disabled child like MENCAFEP is, in a positive, nurturing and loving way. Looking at the holistic picture of disabled children, the child’s welfare, health and the child’s family.

Let us be honest, the majority of these children are locked away and left to die,’ or as mentioned ‘out of sight, out of mind’, or in some cases even killed. MENCAFEP believes that these children and their families have a right to dignity and a right to life!


Training unit

This unit has developed over the years of MENCAFEP’s existence. It was primarily set up to deal with MENCAFEP’s staff training needs. As the programme and staff have developed, and with word spreading of the unique work that was taking place. It was decided to open up the project as a training resource for other people interested in working with disabled children in the way MENCAFEP has developed its systems.

Trainees have come from all over Sri Lanka, South Asia and Europe, from 1 weeks training to 3 months training. The training technique used is ‘learning by doing”. It is very much a practical / hands on training course, with the trainee becoming part of the MENCAFEP family, with theory input taking place in the evenings.


House keeping unit

In this unit we have 2 disabled staff, which provides a nutritious midday meal on a daily basis for the children/young people of MENCAFEP.


Farming unit

This small farming unit provides training and employment opportunities to Mencafep students in flower, agriculture and animal husbandry. It also gives educational activities to other children in Mencafep. The vegetable garden helps towards the meal that is provided, as well as providing a small income for Mencafep. It also employs 2 disabled people.


Maintenance and general unit

The maintenance and general unit provides staff such as a maintenance worker, drivers for the centre bus and other vehicles and security guard.

Through the maintenance and mechanical side of this unit, the programme is looking at a pilot project of training and employment opportunities for Mencafep students.

MENCAFEP was created to address the needs of disabled children, especially mentally disabled children and their families, firstly in Nuwara Eliya, then Batticaloa and Trincomalee, Sri Lanka. Before the inception of MENCAFEP, there were no facilities at all for disabled children in Nuwara Eliya District of 1 million plus population, 24 years (later) MENCAFEP remains the only facility for disabled children and their families; in Batticaloa and Trincomalee the organisation is still the only one that works with severe mental disability. In fact MENCAFEP is one of the few schools and centres in South Asia which works with disabled children and young people in a very unique way. MENCAFEP is a resource centre for training and for supporting other groups interested in community-based rehabilitation of disabled children. MENCAFEP and outside resources provide ongoing training and learning experiences for all staff members, who in addition to being Teachers, also serve as Social Worker(s), Healthcare providers and friends of the child(ren), families and community. Community Care is provided, through MENCAFEP’s Respite Care Unit and family Group Home, specifically for the profoundly disabled, abandoned and at-risk disabled children.

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