In 1976, the Sri Lankan government relocated more than a thousand families, creating the Summitpura slum. With lack of proper housing, water systems, and electricity, residents of this shantytown lived in neglect with little hope of escape.
Susanne Wickramaratne, known as “Auntie Susan” by those in the slum, began a modest feeding program in 1979 with the help of her husband, Pastor Colton, and their church. After three decades, this endeavor became Center of Hope — a nation-wide network of feeding centers.
“I believe that the vision … was put in Auntie Susan’s heart at that time,” says Prasad Perera, current Chief Operating Officer of Center of Hope and member of the founding church. “Thirty years later, it’s in my heart.”
Their main focus is to supplement the holistic development of children between the ages of 3 and 16, addressing their physical, intellectual, relational, emotional, and spiritual needs.
“Poverty corrupts all five of those areas,” says Prasad. “We want to change the whole family and every aspect of poverty. A changed child leads to a changed family, which leads to a changed community.”
In 2019, Convoy of Hope began partnering with Center of Hope to provide meals for the children in their centers. “Convoy of Hope coming in — not just financially but bringing the experts … and seeing how we can improve — is a great help,” says Prasad.
Before this partnership, Center of Hope fed close to 150 children a day. Now, more than 500 children in Sri Lanka receive nutritious meals. With time, the church wants to feed 5,000 kids a day, eventually seeing the Summitpura slum — and by extension, all of Sri Lanka — transformed.
“We know this is not something we can do on our own,” says Prasad. “When people think of Sri Lanka, they need to know that God transformed this nation.”