Priyanthi Fernando

Priyanthi Fernando, Executive Director, Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA), Colombo. She has over 20 years experience in the development sector in Sri Lanka and overseas, coordinating a global network, leading the country team of an international NGO and working with local NGOs

CWC is special for lots of reason - its goals, its commitment, its achievements, its organisational culture, its people!  What I admire most, is the fact that it uncompromisingly walks the talk, sticks to what it believes in, and maintains its principles in everything it does. 

My first encounter to CWC's special brand of walking the talk was in the 1980s at the then 'new' CWC building, where everything was at a 'child's height' so that children had the same access to everything in the office as the adults; a simple act that bridged the adult and child worlds. I later worked with the CWC team and members of Bhima Sanga on a training programme at Dhruva, where we were developing a research methodology on children's transport needs. Here, I witnessed how the adults in CWC worked with the children with no hint of patronising them, and how the children responded with much enthusiasm and creativity. Nandana, Kavita and Lolly held steadfastly to the principle of children's participation as described in the Convention on the Rights of the Child which is that children are entitled to the freedom to express opinions and to have a say in matters affecting their social, economic, religious, cultural and political life. Participation rights include the right to express opinions and be heard, the right to information and freedom of association. 

The other adult participants in the research programme from institutions in other parts of the world,  found it difficult to take these ideas on board in their entirety, and this interaction with CWC  showed me how even with the best of intentions, we can become steeped in behaviours and attitudes that exclude vulnerable groups. I congratulate CWC on this well-deserved nomination, and hope that the Prize itself would be theirs. The world has a lot to learn from them.