Life on Sri Lankan tea plantations changed from hardship to hope

Sumudu, 12, is from an area in Sri Lanka where World Vision works. Since you sponsor a Sri Lankan child, we thought you might like to hear how his life has changed.

I have one brother who is younger to me. My memory is of my father as a drunkard who treated us all very badly. I remember my mother always being worried about how to meet our daily needs. My father has taken away the happiness I had with my mother and my younger brother.

I have been sick and spent a lot of time in bed before doctors told us I have epilepsy. I had a rough idea about my sickness that it would kill me. I was always miserable and not interested in school or making friends.

One day a man from World Vision came to visit us and because he was concerned he took me to hospital for testing and then paid for my medications. He visited me in 2012 and that was the beginning of a great change in my life. He talked to me for a long time and told me that the sickness I had can be managed with having medicine on time. He also convinced me to go back to school.

I had told him about children teasing me with my weakness in studies and being a sick child. I thank World Vision staff who made it possible for me to re-enrol in school.

Also I would like to tell you that the mobilizer ‘Aunty’ (World Vision's Community Facilitator) and the leaders of my community who selected my family and I, really take good care of me. Now I am taking medicine from Colombo general hospital and as a result of vocational training skills my mother has received from WV Lanka, my parents are able to bear the cost for my medicines."

Sumudu's mum says: "My name is Wasanthi Kumari and I was born in a typical poverty-stricken family in the tea plantation region of southern Sri Lanka. I got married to Saman Kumara who was a farmer and we have two children together. My husband used to spend his earnings on alcohol, he was addicted, and he was violent. Because of this I and my children faced lots of financial difficulties in our daily lives.

I had started working as a labourer in the tea plantations, and was earning about Rs. 300 a day for my family when I first heard about World Vision Lanka (ADP Neluwa) and heard that they had joined with the Development Society in our village.

I was selected by the community leaders to take part in workshops where a number of women and mothers were trained in tea cultivation and management. When I graduated, (2010) from this course I was given 2,500 tea bushes, worth about Rs. 30,000. Today I am able to harvest leaves from my own plants! I am able to earn Rs. 12,000 per month from this harvest.

Also we had no proper house to live in and a pit latrine which was not safe. But with the World Vision interventions now we have a good water-sealed latrine and with the community support and World Vision guidance we have built our house to the roof level.

My achievements, and my family’s increased income, is because of the training and guidance from World Vision and the labour support received from the community.  Little by little my husband also changed his life and now he is farming and working to increase our tea harvest. Also the best thing is now he stopped getting alcohol and we are free from fears.

Thank you for all that you've done. Hard times are now turned into times of hope. We have managed this and continue to develop because of your help. I like to give my heartiest thanks to WV and the sponsors who support our development.