Capacity building of civil society and local authorities: building sustainable livelihoods

Capacity building of civil society and local authorities: building sustainable livelihoods

I work in the laundry section of a 4 star hotel, who would have thought that a few years ago? I support my 12 year old son, he is a good student, I have a good and permanent source of income and believe it or not my husband wants to come back to live with me now!

Jeyemala

CONTEXT

For decades, Sri Lanka faced the brunt of a brutal and bloody war. While cycles of violence displaced thousands of people, it also destroyed decades of mutual trust and coexistence amongst its population. The divide between people spread through a spectrum of ethnicity, religion and geographical lines. On the side-lines and ever growing has been a population of youth that has grown up amidst violence, isolated within their own communities, with very little exposure to other ethnic and religious groups in the country.

OBJECTIVES

  • Civil society groups and local authorities' are strengthened to increase and improve decision-making regarding development issues in their areas;
  • Increased equal livelihood opportunities for reconciliation in interfaith/interethnic communities;
  • Reduce poverty through provision of personal /professional skills;

RESULTS

  • Capacity building: Civil society groups & Local authorities have the capacities and are empowered to take ownership of development initiatives;
  • Peace building: Conflict mitigation through equal access to livelihood resources & opportunities;
  • Skills building: reduced poverty through the provision of marketable personal & professional skills;

FACTS AND FIGURES

  • 1,300 unemployed young people have registered in career guidance;
  • 500 have already undergone training;
  • 200 of these young people have become self-sufficient;

TESTIMONY

Jeyemala

Soft-spoken and yet unrestricted in her opinion she told us a story which both inspires and can only give courage to the thousands of Jeyemalas across Sri Lanka. Jeyemala was 16 years of age when she gave birth to her son. Having been left by her husband during her pregnancy, Jeyemala revealed that she had been married barely a year when she was forced to go and live with her parents. No education, no prospects for the future, considered a burden by many, Jeyemala later left for the Middle East so that the liability of getting her siblings married could be lifted off her father's shoulder. He had done the best he could and was already beginning to show the wear and tear of life as a labourer. "There was no other choice, whatever little we had that was not destroyed during the war, was destroyed during our displacement" she says. Her family consisted of eight members in total of which five siblings were still unmarried and all of whom were living off her father's meagre salary. Four years of working as maid and after having helped her parents marry three of her sisters, she returned, empty handed and with no prospects yet again. Working for a tea plantation for a pittance was very hard and the wages did not suffice but good things happened as well. My home was renovated by an organisation called ZOA is what Jeyemala says about this phase in her life. Thankfully for Jeyemala, things have looked up since then. During her search for a better job, she met an organisation called YGRO. YGRO, a partner of ZOA and supported by the European Union, suggested that Jeyemala enrol into a Hotel Management course, the fees of which Jeyemala was not expected to pay. It has been many months since the training and now after years of merely trying to sustain herself, Jeyemala sees hope. Speaking to us she said 'I work in the laundry section of a 4 star hotel, who would have thought that a few years ago? I support my 12 year old son, he is a good student, I have a good and permanent source of income and believe it or not my husband wants to come back to live with me now!'. Jeyemala started with LKR 5000 in the tea plantation, she earns LKR 35000 now. Due to her constant struggle to do better for herself and her family, she continues to inspire women in her community. Although when she speaks, she often thanks the EU, it was only her and her resilience that has made her come through.