Oxfam Canada’s Alexandra Lopoukhine reports from Sri Lanka
Wijayarani Sithravel’s red and gold sari shimmers in the late afternoon sun as she sits in her freshly painted baby blue house surrounded by two friends and her 13 year old daughter.
For months after the 2004 tsunami hit, Wijayarani sat alone in this house, reliving the moment the big wave took the life of one of her children. Today, the joyful smile of her daughter, Durmadi, helps to heal the wounds but the memories are hard to forget.
In July 2007, things changed for Wijayarani, aged 32. She joined an Oxfam-supported Self-Help Group, focused on market-garden production. With this group, she found friendship, comfort and the chance to tap into a loan system that is helping her and her family. It was after joining this group, Wijayarani found the motivation to leave her house and slowly begin the healing process. Through her friendships and new purpose, she has found the way to overcome the sadness and confusion the tsunami caused and is focused on the future. She is confident that the future holds good things.
With her loan, she has started a small garden off the side of her house. This is providing the necessary vegetables her family needs, and the extra produce she sells. She’s starting to build up some savings. Wijayarani is dreaming, and dreaming big. She see her daughter’s future as a bright one. `I hope she gets a good education and lives a life free from the hardships I have endured. Durmadi giggles and nods her head as her mother explains her dreams.
The 15 other women in her group have come together to plan and share resources. Through this, they have found friendships that did not exist before the tsunami. Some come from other villages, and others are neighbours she had never really met before. The sadness caused by the loss of one or more family members is common amongst them, but so too is the desire to live a better life. It’s a life they are proud of and one that pushes their daughters to an even brighter future.