Widows are treated in the Hindu community as third class people. Hardly anybody cares for them. They do not participate in the family life.
To help these women Ceylon Christian Care has started Widows Empowerment projects. With these projects widows are trained to be independent and to generate income for themselves and their children. With micro credits they are helped to start small businesses on their own.
The first project started in the year 2003 in the village Periyaneelavanai. In 2006 another project was started in the village Murokkodanchenai. Today close to 100 widows receive help from these projects.
|Some of the widows supported by this project|
How does this project work
In a three months training the widows are taught how to communicate with other people and how to deal with money. This will help them to go back to normal life and to generate income for their family.
After this training they will receive a small loan (a micro credit of about 40 to 70 Euros). With this money they start a small business.
A widow purchases chickens, feeds them, and after some time sells them on the market. The difference between the original investment and the sales price is the profit and so her income.
Another widow may purchase a bag of rice of 40 kilos. She pounds the rice to flour which she uses to bake cookies. These cookies she sells to restaurants or people in the neighborhood. Again the profit is her income.
The widows have to pay back a part of their loan every week. If they do this properly they only need to pay back 80 %.
To stimulate these widows they are split into groups of 6-8 persons. Each group regularly comes together and discusses the experiences and progress. New micro credits are only handed out if all members of the group have paid back their loans. This brings a healthy competition in the group.
From the money they pay back a part is put on a saving account. This teaches them to set money aside for unforeseen situations.
|Personal loan and savings book||Overview of performance of a group|
The picture on the left shows the personal loan and saving book.
The picture on the right shows the chart with the names of all the widows of a group, the business they run and their individual performance. This chart is updated every month, and is the basis for the healthy competition between these widows.
|Home situation: How one of these widows lives|
When these widows work for their income they cannot take care of their children in the daytime. This is why there is the Day Care Center project. During the day this center takes care of their children. In the evening these children go back to their mothers.
|Example Micro Credit|
This widow lost her hut in the tsunami and now she has got a new house. She received a loan and started a small pancake business on her own. From the loan she purchased a bag of rice and coconuts. During the day she pounds the rice to flour. Every day at 3:00 AM she wakes up and starts baking pancakes from a mixture of this rice flour and coconut milk. On an average she bakes 80 pancakes on a wood fire. In the morning she sells them to people in the neighborhood for 6 rupees each. After subtracting the investment costs her daily profit (and income) is 200 rupees (roughly 2 US$). This way she is now able to take care of herself and her two daughters.