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Story of Indika Rathnayaka

Mr.Indika Rathnayaka, 38 years old from Netolpitiya is a person with visual impairment. He was introduced to the project by Mr. Nandasiri, the Hambantota District Chairman of Blind Association during one of the consultation workshops . Ms. Nandan, one of our field staff and the coordinator of a project funded by Cristofel Blinden Mission(CBM)- Germany had the opportunity to interview him.

Story of Gunasekara

The last interview and the present picture: Mr.S.S.S Gunasekara, 52 years old from Gammeda Pitiya, Hakman is running a small stall to sell king coconut. Recently he expanded the stall and added little other stuff to his stall followed by qualifying a grant of 20,000 LKR from department of social service. Ms.Krishanthi, Navajeevana’s field officer met his wife to collect some information to complete the case study.

Story of Deepika

It was end of December 2020 and the last few months of the south west monsoon. The heavy rain slowly disappeared and slight drizzle is still going on. This is one of the two major monsoons carrying rains to Sri Lanka and especially to the Southern and Eastern provinces. The tree tops which had seasonal fall of leaves start sprouting fresh buds adding nice light green to the semi aired zone.


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Topic Project 3

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Story of Indika Rathnayaka

Herewith we share 3 parts of his interview as one story. Meeting Indika - Ms. Nandani met Indika during a community consultation workshop at Kattakaduwa and Indika was looking for a livelihood opportunity at the time she met him. Mr. Nandasiri, District Chairman of Blind Association, never knew his background but referred him to the consultation workshop and wanted Nandani to support him. Followed by the request from district social service officer too Nandani had a very brief and a casual chat with Indika after the consultation meeting. “Itin kohomada Indika?, monawada apen wenna ona?” she asked Indika in Sinhala, (meaning “so how are you Indika and what can we do for you?), to initiate a friendly chat. Nandani felt, Indika wasn’t very open though he gave a friendly smile without a reply. Nadani had a very tight schedule and couldn’t continue the conversation further. She understood he was an introvert and probably needed a different meeting with more privacy to understand the whole picture. She promised to meet him later and advised a volunteer to follow up. She decided to interview him by herself since the volunteer2 was new.
First interview and the first home visit - Followed by an appointment, later she visited his house with the volunteer in the area to get more information to support his livelihood requirements. When she reached his house at Netolpitiya two kids were playing in the garden and his brother welcomed Nandani and the volunteer. The house was very small and construction was not completed. Netolpitiya is a small coastal village located nearly 250 Kms away from capital Colombo, situated between Tangalle and Hambantota. Majority of the villagers made their living by fishing or fisheries industry related business. The high concentration of water hardness does not allow people to cultivate any economically valuable crops forcing them to push towards fisheries industry. Some are attached to tourism industry since the area is a popular tourist destination though under developed and others make a living by blue collar jobs.
Where is Indika? Asked Nandani? He must be sitting in the beach pls. wait I will call him, his brother replied. Nandani saw one of the kids ran towards beach to find Indika and till he came his brother continued the conversation. Whose kids are they? Nandani was inquisitive. They are my brother’s and we take care of them since his wife left him. Nandani immediately understood there is a long story here.
In few minutes Indika joined the group wearing short pants and no top. According to Nadani his appearance said that he would have been feeling low or very upset about something. His eyes were red and his body was skinny as if he was fasting. Nandani was curious about how he lost vision. He was not very happy to share his story but accepted he was feeling low and upset and did not want to disclose the story. Project team decided to refer Indika to counselling and at the end of the conversation he was happy to meet a counsellor. The field staff had to follow up the case since they did not have well trained volunteers at that time. Nandani knew most of the time the patients are not very open at the first interview and decided to visit again and kept her curiosity on hold. She advised the volunteers to keep the eye on him.
Second interview and the second home visit - Followed by a few sessions of counselling, Indika was apparently ready for the next interview. The team met him again at his house and the conversation continued. Indika was looking sober, dressed well in a short pant and a T-shirt. His mood was better. He requested support to start some livelihood activity and he wanted to take care of his kids by himself. He lost his job since he lost his vision. The team had to assess him to find what suits him since he was visually impaired. He was interested about a tourism related job. As a result of networking with other NGOs the opportunity was available for visually impaired to undergo Ayurvedic spa training at Navajeevana funded by World University Service of Canada under their SKILL project. Indika was referred to the training and was very happy for it.
Ms.Nandani, the field officer also was a sign language interpreter for the above training since it was for persons with visual and hearing impairments. The project was designed to train visually impaired on foot massage and Ayurvedic therapies, persons with hearing impairments were trained to do manicure and pedicure. Indika became friendlier with Nandani, and he was happy to share his full story later during a training session. His 3rd interview is shared below.
Third Interview, in his own wards -“I am married and having two children. I left schooling very early and started working as a bus conductor. I worked hard, later I took a driving license and found a job as a bus driver of a long journey bus. My earning was sufficient to live a decent life. However I was not able to be with my family more often due to the nature of my job. Life was very smooth until I found that my wife was cheating on me. While I was busy with my job, my wife found a boyfriend. I saw they were together and I questioned her. We ended up with hot arguments, fought more often. I did not want a broken home. I wanted my kids to have their mother’s company. You know, the divorces are not well accepted in our culture he added. I was very upset about all that”. Nandani let him take time and after a few seconds of pause Indika continued. “One day, after a long trip, I came home. I was very tired and soon after early dinner I fell asleep. In that unfortunate night, my wife and her boyfriend pour acid on my eyes when I was sleeping before they ran away. Followed by this tragedy I lost my vision. Since then I haven’t seen the world, knew nothing around me. I just passed time idle or wandering with somebody’s help. Wife is no longer with me. My children were taken care of by my brothers and sisters. He had tears in eyes when he said he cannot see his kids anymore. I almost lost everything. Better to say I was a dead man. But in a corner of my heart I had a feeling that I would be worthy someday, and I always wanted to care for my kids and give them a better life. These project interventions including counselling and spa training changed my world, have given me hope and I enjoy what I do. Though my eyes lost sight, my hands see. In one sentence I can tell you, you all brought me back to life”. Other interventions-The project team with District Social Service Officers and Chairman of District Blind Association supported him to get a house from another housing scheme dedicated for persons with disabilities in Tissamaharama. The village was newly established all the settlers are with disabilities. He graduated last year from the training and became the best therapist. Presently he is employed at Navajeevana Ayurvedic spa, works two days a week and has his own practice at home. He told us he earns a decent income, sometimes his earning crosses 100,000 Rupees a month. Presently he has employed one of the trainees from the second batch of spa training. He plans to expand his business and employee 2 more students. He is recognized in the village.
Further he added,
“So finally I can take care of my kids and I will be a good father to them” Indika said happily.
Conclusion and lesson learned.
He is doing really well now and we keep track of him. Volunteers are planning to find a bride for him. If he is happy we can arrange that too, Nandani said after the interview.
- Social and cultural expectations or values have certain advantages and disadvantages.

- Early identification and early intervention bring better results

- Networking with other donors, partners and stakeholders add value to the outcome and assure better results.

- Though therapeutic interventions improve the person, they always need livelihood support to have a dignified life

Story of Gunasekara

Ms.Kanthi Abeyweera, the social service officer and two other trained volunteers on expenditure management were with her during the visit.Gunasekara’s wife was briefing the business and a volunteer was going through their expenditure recording. Time was around 2.30 pm and at some distance Krishanthi saw some school children were coming towards them. She immediately recognized Gunasekara’s two sons were among them. Krishanthi turned at Gunasekara’s wife and exclaimed “ oh your sons started schooling again…!” , added in Sinhala “Sha hondai ne” means it is really good. Gunasekara was joining the group and replied with a smile and said yes miss; it was from this term onward. He still walks with the support of crutches. It sounds like a happy picture there. Gunasekara is able to walk now and his hand function seems improved. Wife is supporting the business and the stall has been expanded, kids are back to school. These were the notes and minutes from Krishanthi’s last field visit to meet the family. However the scenario was totally different when she met them first time nearly one and half years ago in his village Gammeda Pitiya, Hakman.Hakmana is nearly 200km away from capital Colombo and located in the center of the Southern province. During 1988, 1989, the areas became the heart of socialist rebellion movement and many youth were killed or disappeared due to civil armed conflict. Majority of people made living by agriculture and manage had to mouth earning. The areas are also popular for Sri Lankan spices and mainly cinnamon is being cultivated. Many have their own small properties or rest used to harvest cinnamon during the season. During the off season the laborers migrate to other location for work. Gunasekara’s family was not different and had the same struggle for living.

According to Krishanthi it was probably somewhere in the last quarter of 2018 that I was informed about Gunasekara by one of our volunteers call Shyama Deepani. Shyama attended one of our consultation workshops and since then she has been an active volunteer for the project work. Shyama lives close to Gunasekara’s house and she actively involved in interventions of Gunasekara. Shyama knew the family well and she added lots of information to the story. The story unfolds from the year 1989 and Gunasekara was a young school leaver at the time. 1988 and 1989 have been the years of Satan, the armed conflict in southern region of the country and social unrest during the time left thousands of youth dead or disappeared. Parents and elders encouraged young people, particularly male family members to hide/run away from the native areas. Probably it was not a good time for Gunasekara to continue schooling. He ran away from the area and however continued to have his love affair with a school time girlfriend. In late 1989 he got married with the same girl. Followed by discontinuation of schooling and with poor education qualification he couldn’t find a better job other than a vacancy as a bus conductor of a private bus. It is not clear whether he was a part of the socialist movement or no at that time, however he worked sometimes and hid when he was searched. The constant struggle for saving his life either did not let him earn a decent income or stop him becoming a father of two girl daughters. Life was very tough for Gunasekara. He was expected to work hard to earn a decent income and sometimes he continue to work full day and then evening after work some cleaning jobs in small hotels for about 3-4 hours gave him a little more income.
Probably the added burden on family income and stressful life style did not let him continue healthy life any longer. Very soon he had a stroke at the young age of 27 and made Gunasekara paralyzed. He was able to recover up to a greater extent since he was young enough to cope with such a condition. However he lost the bus conductor job and family became the poorest of poor. Forced young Gunasekara to take care of the family, later found a job as a cleaner of a lorry. And continue the same job till 2016.
- Turning point of life : In an unfortunate evening on 01/11/2016 they drove the lorry to Colombo loaded with paper and cinnamon. Followed by unloading they returned in the same day evening to their village. Probably hard day made the lorry driver drowsy and he fell asleep and lorry ran into a road side building and a vehicle. Gunasekara only remember the side where he was seated hit the building badly with a loud noise. He was conscious after 2 months due to brain injury and lucky enough to be alive and recover very slowly. By the time everybody thought he would be dead. It took one and half year for him to completely discharge from hospital. His both lower limb and right upper limb had multiple fractures, cracks in vertebral bones with head injury.
The family depended on neighbors support and children discontinued the schooling. Wife was fully determinant and engaged with the treatment of Gunasekara. Every other week Gunasekara was taken to Karapitiya hospital (at least 65km) from his village for further medical management. They discontinue medical management when they finish every single penny they had.

- Good news : This was time somewhere in 2018 that MYP implemented the community consultation programmes in Hakmana and the volunteer Shyama Deepani carried the good news to the family about project interventions. Since then the volunteers, Social Service Officers and project team worked very closely with the family.

- Interventions : The team together with multidisciplinary clinical team of Navajeevana made the plan and the priority was given to the therapeutic interventions initially. While physical therapy continued with the support of volunteers and professional support from Navajeevana, counselling was arranged through the counsellor attached to district secretariat of Hakmana. The family was encouraged and project team attended to the educational requirements of the children by then who lost nearly 1 year of schooling. The volunteers approached the principal and arranged extra classes for the kids to catch the lost classes and other material requirements were provided by the OPD. Gunasekara was progressed from bed activities to sit in a wheelchair to walking through series of strength and balance training. The wheelchair was provided through the project funding, an accessible toilet was built with the support of Social Service. Joint range of motion was improved and brought him on crutches followed by walking training with walker within one year of interventions. Volunteers attended the gait training followed by the instruction from Navajeevana physiotherapist.
Livelyhood: Gunasekara’s wife was offered training on expenditure management and followed by the successful completion of the training and follow up exercises, the project team worked very closely with the family and the department of social services through which she was entitled to a grant provided by the department of social service for a small enterprise( a stall to sell simple groceries and vegitables). 20,000LKR worth grant effectively but slowly rebuild their life. Whole intervention has been successful to bring their lives back to normalcy and the family is grateful to all.
The changes and the picture presented at the beginning of the story is the current situation after the intervention.
Lesson learned
The expenditure management training offered to the persons with disabilities prior to begin any livelihood intervention or providing grants found to reduce the failure. The department of social services has commended the intervention.

Story of Deepika

Chandani, the field officer of Matara was heading to meet deepika, OPD secretary of Weligama to have the last interview of case study presenting below. Road was so muddy and it was slippery making it difficult to ride a bike So, Chandani had to go on foot to reach the house. Deepika was living at Udugedara Estate, Bulugahakoratuwa, Wekada, Midigama in Matara district.
Midigama is a remote location nearly 150 Kms away from Colombo. Most of the people in the village made living either by fishing or fisheries industry related laboring. Most of the families never had any permanent jobs or business other than being labors for boat owners. The smell of dry fish blowing with the sea breeze reminded chandani the area is popular for dry fish. However the drizzle put the dry fish makers into trouble. Production of dried fish was one of the major income source of the families in Midigama. Deepika was not at home when chandani reached. Chandani found some times it is difficult to get through to her as mobile networks does not function properly in this remote location. Upon her arrival one of her neighbors went to inform deepika of Chandani’s arrival.
“It is by law that 3% of employment opportunities are reserved for person with disabilities according to NAPD. And it is limited to the law and far from practice. Respected president if this committee let by you decide to re-open Midigama garment factory I request your attention to make that law apply practically to ensure employment opportunity for people like me in our OPD”.
Co incidentally It was the day that president had “Gama samanga Pilisandarak” (Dialogue with the Village) programme at Midigama. Chandani was waiting for Deepika to return from the meeting. She was eager to present the above quote first before presenting rest of the story that she had taken from the discussion with Deepika. Deepika was very happy about her presence and being able to raise her voice as a prominent advocacy agent in the area.
“Gama Samaga Pilisandara” (Dialogue with the Village) is a program led by president, ministers, government officials and community leaders by visiting each and every village letting people to express their own opinions towards development and its issues. Deepika was one of the active participant of above programme through distant satellite technology at Midigama.
So, what happened, what was his reply Chandani was inquisitive. “He promised during the open discussion and advised his officials to make necessary arrangements to ensure 3% of job placement for PWDS at Midigama garment factory once it is open again” Deepika replied happily.

- Deepika : According to Chandani, Deepika is 39 years old and was born as a normal child in a family of 9 members. She has been schooling up to grade 8 and left school due to economic hardships of the family who made living by fishing. Followed by a brief affair with a boy at the same age she got married when she was merely 17. However, the life was happy and smooth until she had a first baby.

- Broken home and depressed mother : Followed by their first baby, her husband left her and she had to fight for the life alone with her little daughter. Life was not easy and it was very unfair for her. Her worriers, anxiety and lack of food dried up her breast leaving no milk for the infant. Most of the time she found it was difficult to get something to feed the baby. In one unfortunate night when it was unbearable of baby’s cry she went to kitchen to prepare milk which she borrowed from parents. The old saree that she was using as a linen caught by fire when she tried to lit the stove with kerosene oil. Luckily she survived the burn and however the young mother slowly developed depression. Though the incident was horrific she was lucky to win parents’ sympathy which eased her life a little. “You know it was a night mare Deepika said with tears in her eyes”. Chandani had written.
Being a young widow mother her life continued with all the imaginable difficulties. Followed by another twelve years of previous incident she developed a born cancer of her left forearm leading to an amputation.

- A Blooming advocacy agent : Chandani met Deepika for the first time years after above insidents at a parent’s awareness program of Weligama OPD under the BMZ funded project. She attended the meeting expecting some support for her daughter’s education. Followed by the meeting and a brief discussion with her, considering her situation and needs Chandani motivated her to join the OPD, divisional, district level advocacy committees to avail wider range of benefits of our CBID program. Since then, Deepika was an active member of the the OPD and the district and provincial advocacy committees and soon she became the secretary of the Weligama OPD.

- Life changing interventions : Chanadani together with weligama OPD office bears and inclusive committees planned a series of intervention including capacity development for the DPO leaders and deepika was a beneficiary of those interventions. She was referred to muti-Deciplinary clinics and P&O team assessed her for a prosthetic arm. Also she was referred to counselor attach to DS office weligam where she received counselling session to get rid of depression. She shows remarkable improvement in depression and however her arm has not yet been delivered. Improved deepika was later introduced to the MYP livelihood development program through which she received funding to start her small boutique seen in the picture. Today she thanks the donors of MYP, BMZ and peat and Durna. “I noticed that deepika has a great potential to be a good advocacy agent someday” Said Chandani.

- Reflects of an advocacy agent :

• A national level decisions have been changed due to deepika’s advocacy actions. At the country lock down period due to COVID-19, the government decided to provide Rs.5000 loan for person with disabilities and beneficiaries of samurdhi programme1. An instant media conference was held by deepika and some PWDs and stated that they need a subvention instead of a loan due to their economic hardships. The media conference was published at the main news telecast of Sirasa TV on 06-04-2020. As a result the line ministry decided to grant 5000LKR as a subvention instead of a loan for all PWDs and samurdhi beneficiaries in the country.

• At the time of parliament election 2020, Deepika met three candidates with her OPD members and their discussion led to sign agreements between the OPD and candidates to reinstate the NAPD. In addition, their willingness to make NAPD Live.

• In additoina, Deepika parcipated for the provincial inclusive education committee by representing OPDs. Future plan for deepika: According to Chandani, Deepika will be developed as a leader of the advocacy network in southern province and advocacy events have to be done under her leadership in the project.


Name of the Bank :- Commercial Bank


Account Number :- 8123022250


Account Name :- Navajeevana Rehabilitation Tangalla.


Bank Branch :- Tangalla