Adaikkalam tends to her garden in her backyard with enthusiasm with her walking aid beside her. The ground nuts have blossomed in season and this fills her with pride and joy. After years of struggling alone, today, she is an empowered woman, able to stand on her own two feet and care for her family on her own thanks to the LIFE – Livelihood Initiatives for Empowerment project and the Wanni Women Livelihood Project (WWLP) by World Concern.
World Concern came to Puthukkudiyiruppu (a small town in the Mullaitivu District of Sri Lanka) at a time when Adaikkalam was struggling bitterly to make ends meet through her home gardening business. With no available capital, she raised money to buy seeds by selling discarded scrap metal collected from her plot of land. Sending her children back to school was a mere dream, when she was not even sure about their next meal.
As a widowed mother, 54 year-old Adaikkalam is no stranger to hardship. Her oldest son passed away at a tender age of eleven in 1998 and five years later, her husband passed away as a result of alcoholism, leaving her to struggle as the sole breadwinner and bring up her 4 remaining young children. The difficult living conditions during the Sri Lankan Civil War in 2009 caused Adaikkalam’s health to deteriorate rapidly and she collapsed, injuring her back permanently while at the Internally Displaced Camp (IDP). She now requires a walker for the rest of her life and is incapable of returning to her previous livelihood as a vendor in the local market.
It was in this dire circumstance that Adaikkalam was selected to be a beneficiary under the WWLP implemented by World Concern. The selection was done based on her status as a widow and her genuine interest to make an income through home gardening. By the time she was selected for the WWLP, she had already started growing green beans, leafy vegetables and okra in the small plot of land surrounding her dilapidated home.
Adaikkalam’s life started turning around with WWLP’s assistance. The program provided Adaikkalam with modern equipment such as a micro irrigation system and gardening tools, and also technical training to maximize land-use and crop yield. She has now expanded her home garden to a land area of 4/3 acre with additional peanut cultivation, and is able to provide for the daily needs of her family. Adaikkalam could now afford to put two of her children back in school. However, despite higher income and the ability to provide the basic needs, she was unable to ensure income stability as she had difficulties accessing the market directly to sell her crops.
At this point, World Concern implemented the LIFE project to further assist the successful beneficiaries of WWLP. As the Special Recognition Award winner of Project Inspire in 2012, the LIFE project received US$10,000 in funding to achieve two main goals: 1) to establish direct market linkages to sell their harvest and (2) to expand their existing livelihood initiatives.
With the help of the LIFE project, Adaikkalam is now able to make her dream a reality. Adaikkalam now finds it easy to sell the surplus of her harvest to the middleman who comes to collect supplies in the locality. Today she is an empowered woman who can secure a stable income through micro-agriculture and support her family.
Adaikkalam’s story is just one of the many success stories that the WWLP and LIFE projects have benefited from the assistance by World Concern and the organization continues to reach out to disadvantaged communities and uplift them for a better future.