Women Heroes

The Self-Empowerment for Women (SEW) project was started in 2014 to support women who have become the sole breadwinner of the family, for a variety of reasons. For most, the husband left them after the birth of their children. Leaving them full of debts and bearing the responsibility to take care of the family by herself. We support them to become self sustainable and run their own businesses.

Here are some of the women heroes who have emerged from poverty and became self sustainable.

Ajanthi*’s family strugged to feed and educate their three children, after her husband suffered a stroke and became unemployment. They were a beneficiary of CandleAid’s family sponsorship program, and their children have all been received assistance from CandleAid’s education sponsorship program. The family works together to produce envelopes from used paper, which are then sold to Ousala outlets. While there is a high demand for their products, they struggle to supply the requisite amount because they are short of capital and are unable to purchase enough used paper.

Under the SEW project, Ajanthi was awarded a grant of LKR 20,000 which allowed her to buy 200kg of used paper. After this initial grant, Susantha’s business grew successful enough that she no longer required assistance from CandleAid.

Jayani* lost her husband in April 2009 and has had to work to support herself and her two daughters, aged 15 and 5 years old. She earned money from preparing and selling lunch packets and ground coffee, however the LKR 2000 – 3000 she earned each month was nowhere near enough to feed her children.

CandleAid gave her a grant of LKR 5000 to purchase a sealer and a gas cooker so that she could prepare lunches of higher quality. She has since been able to sustain her business without the SEW program.

Sameera* was used to living a life of comfort, however this was upended when she went through a divorce and her husband left for Japan with his new spuse. She suddenly had to figure out how to support herself and her two sons, who were still at school. She was forced to move into a rental house, and although her ex-husband sent money every month to help cover her sons’ expenses, it was hardly enough for two growing boys, especially as they were studying in an international school. Sameera decided to start a hairdressing business, and earned certificates for hairdressing and make-up at several beauty colleges. While she had been visiting a few clients in their homes, she desired to establish her business propery by setting up a small salon at home.

Without the funds to purchase the necessary equipment, Sameera was referred to CandleAid and accepted into the SEW program. Not only did she received finanical support to make those purchases, but she even received training and advice from CandleAid on how to manage her accounts so that she could turn a healthy profit. Within 4 months, she was able to make an average income of LKR 35,000, a far cry from the LKR 13,000 she used to earn. Thanks to CandleAid, she is on the way to being a successful business woman.

Lakmini* When Lakmini’s husband fell sick and required heart surgery, Lakmini had to look for ways to support herself while taking care of her teenage daughter and her 94 year old mother. As her elderly mother required constant supervision and care, Lakmini was unable to seek employment outside her home and turned to sewing five years ago. She has become skilled in producing lingerie, and items such as housecoats, napkins and nightgowns.

She approached CandleAid with a plan to expand her business through obtaining more fabric and an overlock machine which would improve the quality of goods. Lakmini was highly efficient and had a great eye for material – within 2 months she had produced 60 pillow cases. Dil Jayawardena, the Managing Director of Candleaid, even helped Lakmini sell several pillowcases. At the Christmas sale organised at the Dutch Burgher Union in November 2014, CandleAid organised a sale of bedsheets and tableclothes produced by Lakmini, and amazingly, they all sold out by noon.

Neja* is married with two children. Her husband worked as an electrician’s assistant, yet he works sporadically and his income is insufficient to support the family. Neja thus decided to start her own food business to supplement the household. She prepared food such as bottled achcharu (Sinhalese pickles), dry-fish badun, fried soymeat with onions, and ground nut mix, and found a steady but msall market in the households of her village. There has been ready demand from hotels and neighbouring villages, however she is unable to meet it due to financial constraints. Not only was the price of raw ingredients such as onions and oil high, she lacked the funds to purchase equipment such as a gas cooker and a polyethene sealer. She was even buying used bottles from used bottle vendors to store her prepared food, but she could not affford to buy new bottles in bulk.

However, under the SEW project, she received sufficient funds from CandleAid to buy a polyethene sealer, a gas cooker and an electric blender, among many other itmes. At the Christmas sale organised by the Dutch Burgher Union, her food items were a hit among the crowd, selling out promptly by noon.

Tiroshi* is a mother of five with a sewing business that produces ladies’ undergarments. Her husband has no proper job, and even mistreats her and the children. Nevertheless, Thiroshi has peservered and she was determined to take her business to the next level.

CandleAid gave her a grant of LKR 20,000 to purchase materials such as lace and elastic in bulk, and under the organisation’s guidance, she earned LKR 140,000 within 10 months.

*Names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of our beneficiaries.

Being self sustainable as a women makes one powerful. She is able to control her finances and support her family, pulling them out of poverty. She is confident and able to make informed decisions for her children and her family. By helping them start their own sustainable business, these women begin to earn a stable income, and gain the ability to provide proper, nutritious meals, and an education for her children. Women play an important role in ending poverty – support CandleAid and help empower these heroes.

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