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Gowry, a Glimpse of Hope amid the Hopelessness in Sri Lanka

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

Mrs Thiyagarasu Gowry aged 48 is from Manipakkam, Vavuniya. She has three adult sons who live with their mother. The eldest, 28, is a mason, and the second son, 26, is married and is a welder. The youngest, who is 25, worked in a tyre shop.

Gowry lost her husband during the height of the war and has single-handedly raised her children by doing menial work for a living. Even now, she continues to provide for them financially, as, during the pandemic, the whole family lost their jobs. They resorted to doing any job to survive, sometimes even climbing coconut trees or cleaning drains to make ends meet.

While surviving the pandemic and slowly getting back to finding work, they were again faced with a significant challenge due to the economic crisis that affected Sri Lanka, now going from bad to worse. While the sons suffered the most in terms of their jobs, Gowry thankfully got an opportunity to work in a school, Thiruna Sambantha Vidyalaya, as a part-time cook.

The ADT selected her as one of the beneficiaries of the Single-Mothers' Livelihood support initiative. Gowry was keen to improve her life and was interested in cattle farming. She followed a training programme conducted by the ADT on how to Start Your Own Business (SYOB) and received a grant of LKR 40,000 (USD200 at previous prices). Gowry invested the money in a cow that had given birth to a calf. After the calf was fed, she sold the remaining 03 litres of milk daily to the school she works for at LKR 150.00 a litre. Gowry also supplies tea for parents and students, earning LKR 50.00 per cup, and sells an average of 50 cups of tea per day. Her daily turnover is now almost LKR 3,000.00 (USD 8.50). This is a significant increase in income compared to what she earned one year ago while struggling to survive and feed her sons on a meagre income of LKR 750.00 to 1,000.00 a day (USD 2.10 - 2.65 a day)

At a time of recession and hyperinflation in Sri Lanka, where prices of most consumer goods have quadrupled, Gowry now provides for the basic needs of her large family. Once the calf is weaned, Gowry plans to increase her milk sales. Gowry admits that as her knowledge of cattle farming is limited, she is willing to learn and improve.

Once the calf is weaned, Gowry also plans to increase her milk sales. Gowry mentioned that her knowledge of cattle farming is limited, but she is willing to learn and improve.

"Even though my children are adults and should be looking after me, I know it's a struggle for them to do so. I don't want to be a burden on them. After my husband's demise, I have been looking after them and want to do so until I can continue to work. I am ever so grateful to the organisation and the donor for helping me at this time. I will never forget this act of kindness." - Gowry

It is inspiring to note how this vulnerable single mother's commitment and persistence, together with a little encouragement, guidance and financial assistance, has created hope amid hopelessness.


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