The important role of Development Organizations as powerful facilitators and catalysts in bringing change

4th January 2022 : 

International Development Organizations are recognized for their long-term commitment to development efforts, ability to deliver and drive practical interventions, promote community participation, build grass-roots institutions and make lasting impacts.

Discussing the distinctive competences and innovative programs non-profit organizations offer in the development process, ChildFund Sri Lanka organized an insightful forum recently titled ‘Rebuilding the country through public engagement in development work’, bringing together experts from the public and private sector and academia – all engaging in meaningful conversations on the different skills each realm brings to the table.

Kaushal Mendis, Human Resources Director, Gamma Pizzakraft Lanka (Pvt), Ms. R. M. K. De Silva, Director/ ECD and Primary Education, National Institute of Education and Prof. Saumya Liyanage, Professor in Theatre and Drama, University of the Visual and Performing Arts, Colombo participated in the discussions. Dinantha Thambavita, Resource Development Director at ChildFund Sri Lanka moderated the sessions.

Elaborating on the objective of the panel, Neelam Makhijani Country Director ChildFund Sri Lanka stated that development is a complex undertaking that cannot be achieved by any one sector alone. She noted, “While we need to bring the different players on to the same table. The development sector needs to be recognized for the skills and the knowhow that they bring to the table. We have that capability. It is crucial to recognize our strengths and recognizing what the non-profit sector can do would be a very big step in the right direction. This sector should be seen and given its rightful place, as part of larger conversations for development with important stakeholders.”

Emphasizing the need for collaborative endeavors without limiting to one partner or one sector or promoting handouts, she added, “We need to move from charity to empowering communities, we need to move from charities to actually making sure that whatever inputs are given to the vulnerable communities and the disadvantaged are sustainable.”

Kaushal Mendis, Human Resources Director, Gamma Pizzakraft Lanka (Pvt) Ltd (Pizza Hut) speaking on ‘Meaningful employment for Youth with Disabilities (YWDs)’ elaborated “It’s not the disability, It’s their ability that counts. So the task is to find that ability and blossom them to shine so that they too can achieve their dreams. Disabled youth are humans too and they are charged with inherent dignity. Having them involved in day-to-day tasks in an organization allows them to live with this inherited dignity and contribute to the world they live in”.

Ms. R. M. K. De Silva, Director/ ECD and Primary Education, National Institute of Education, Sri Lanka, explained ‘Numeracy and literacy skills through digital means’ detailing cognitive skills in young children and sensitivities required during their developmental process.

Prof. Saumya Liyanage, Professor in Theatre and Drama, University of the Visual and Performing Arts, Colombo discussed ‘The importance of academic collaboration with civil society organizations and academia contributing skills that neither the private sector nor the non-profit sector possess, such as research, detailed understandings and ability to conduct vital assessments. He also highlighted the importance of arts and sports in helping children learn life skills and empowering them to express themselves more effectively.

While the panel highlighted ongoing engagement, the different levels of expertise being harnessed and the resources currently employed by the three stakeholders, for effective development work to take place the presence and contribution of the non-profit sector is vital. Makhijani opined, “We have a lot to learn from these three players. They bring in different levels of expertise in their areas and can actually help us do our work better. But I think in the centre is always going to be non-for-profit organization who will be an enabler, facilitator and a catalyst.”

Equally important for non-for-profit organizations is to communicate and showcase their impact proactively, to ensure transparency and establish credibility. As a result, ChildFund Sri Lanka launched a dedicated website to showcase and connect with various stakeholders, the function took place at the same event after the forum discussion. Makhijani stated that a website is an ideal tool to connect with a larger audience to learn more about the organization and serve as a gateway for future projects. “Social development organizations must seek ways to be taken seriously, to communicate better. A website should be seen as a tool to raise awareness and also as a tool where we can show accountability and transparency and demonstrate the impact that we make. It is a gateway for people to enter the organization.”

ChildFund Sri Lanka as a leading international child development organization working for the past 40 years in the country is committed to, uplifting lives of vulnerable children and their families. ChildFund operates in over 10 districts implementing integrated programs in areas of health, sanitation and hygiene, nutrition, education, youth employment and entrepreneurship, disability inclusion and environment disaster risk reduction ensuring that children and youth grow in a healthy, protective and supportive environment, enabling them to reach their full potential. For more information on ChildFund Sri Lanka and the work they do, visit