Vasantha lives in a humble wooden house that has been painted a light sky-blue shade to match the clear blue Sri Lankan sky. Vasantha is the mother of two little boys.
Vasantha is a leading example in the area of self-development. Her accomplishments have been mentioned many times to encourage other mothers in the Child Survival Program.
Today she is involved in more than three trades, through which she helps her husband in providing an income for the home.
Vasantha and her husband, Ranjith, were not always this happy. Before the Child Survival Program came to Inigodawela, they fought constantly. Ranjith was addicted to alcohol and was missing from home most of the time. He didn’t have a proper job, which made it hard for Vasantha and her children.
“When the Child Survival Program came to our village, everything changed. I was able to control my anger. My husband changed completely, he took on more responsibility. Our lives — that of my husband and I — changed so much, I cannot express it in words.”
Recently, Vasantha was among a group of 34 mothers listening intently to an agricultural officer speak to them about home gardening. This was the beginning of Vasantha’s journey towards self-development and satisfaction. Guided by the agricultural officer, Vasantha started a small gardening project in her front yard.
But she didn’t stop there.
Iresha, manager of the Child Survival Program in Inigodawela, conducted a few sessions on making brooms and carpets, and encouraged mothers to find out what they like and are able to do. Vasantha took on this challenge and she received a few raw materials to help her to start making brooms.
Yet again, Vasantha didn’t stop there. She got in touch with a local organization that publishes books on self-employment opportunities.
“I wrote to them and in no time they sent me a book with ideas to make an income. I went through the book and decided to make popsicles, brooms and coconut oil.
“It is not easy to do this with the little ones at home, but Miss Iresha kept on encouraging me during home visits.”
Bringing out the popsicles she made, Vasantha expressed that she is finding it hard to match the need in the village.
“I put around 30 popsicles into the fridge at night. My fridge cannot hold more than 30. In the morning people come and buy. All the popsicles are gone before half of the morning is over.
“I also work on making coconut oil. I have to dry the coconuts and with the rain it’s a little hard. I have not been able to get the broomsticks as yet, but I will get them soon with the help of my husband.”
Vasantha reminisced about the time before the Child Survival Program came into her life.
“We were in debt. I had even pawned all the gold jewelry that I had. But today we have been able to pay off more than 80 percent of our debt!”
But this is not all that this persevering mother has achieved. She shows off her beautiful earrings.
“These were pawned along with all my gold jewelry. Today after 15 years I am able to wear them again. I get goose bumps each time I think of it.”
Vasantha is not alone in her efforts to transform her family’s livelihood. Almost all of the other mothers in this Child Survival Program have started some sort of income-generating project, whether it be vegetable gardening or rearing chickens or making hand-woven carpets or clothes.