Diakonia - People change the world
Thangarasa Yogeswary's eldest son is helping his mother with the business

A small loan made a big difference

When the civil war in Sri Lanka was over, Thangarasa Yogeswary had nothing in her hands, but a desire to lift her family from poverty. Today she has started her own concrete making business and is working hard to earn enough money to send her children to school.

“I had to leave school when I was only 8 years old. I can’t go back to school now but I want my children to continue their studies without any difficulties”, says Thangarasa Yegeswary.

Thangarasa Yegeswary is one of many affected by the extensive civil war in Sri Lanka. When she was 8 years old her father died in the war and her mother started to work as a domestic worker. Thangarasa Yogeswary was compelled to quit school in order to help her mother.

"Mother put me to sleep on the ground"

“Mom used to carry me wherever she went to work, since she couldn’t leave me alone at home. She put me to sleep on the ground while she was doing the work”, Yogeswary remembers.

But in 2007 the shelling became heavier in the East of Sri Lanka, and the family was forced to move to a transitional housing far from home. The period in the transitional housing turned out to be a dehumanizing experience, since the military was interrogating the displaced people in search for links to terrorist groups.

“We felt ashamed” Yogeswary says “people were coming to the housing already in trauma and we didn’t need that extra suffering”.

Wanted to escape poverty

Thangarasa Yegeswary returned to the home village in her early twenties and got married. The young couple had a desire of escaping poverty, but nothing to build their future on. Without security they weren’t even allowed to take a small loan to get started. The only option was to borrow money from lenders who charge high interest rates.

But Thangarasa Yegeswary was lucky, as she came in contact with Diakonia’s partner organization Eastern Human and Economic Development, EHED. The organization is providing access to financial services for low-income women, helping them to raise their standards of living and become financially independent.

Is striving for the children's education

Through EHED Thangarasa Yogeswary received an income generating loan which she used to set up a concrete post making business and she has never missed the repayment for the loan. Thangarasa Yogeswary’s economic situation has improved but she is still striving to educate her children. Today Thangarasa Yegeswary is 36 years old and she and her husband are supporting their four children and Thangarasa Yegeswary’s widow mother. The family lives on the 20,000 rupies per month the post making business is generating plus the wages from the husband’s work at a rice mill. Three of the children are studying and the eldest boy is helping his mother with the business. Thangarasa Yogeswary hopes that one day her hard work will bring security to her family and education to the children and that she will be a role model for others in her village. 

Story told to: Murgaverl Murugesu, programme officer Sri Lanka