Kanala has worked hard all her life, but has faced hurdle after hurdle. Her parents died when she was very young, and she had no immediate family to look after her. She got married, but watched her husband die a slow and painful death because of injuries he sustained in the war. She can still hear his moans of pain when she closes her eyes.
Kanala is now responsible for bringing up their three children on her own. She used to work as a labourer, but her children are too young to be left alone and the work isn’t regular enough anyway. She picks up a little money by doing odd jobs around the village, but with no steady income and no support network, she is desperately worried about the future of her family. She is prepared to work hard; she just needs an opportunity to prove herself.
Kanala’s village, Theravil, is in the north of Sri Lanka. The agriculture sector in this part of the country hasn’t seen a lot of innovation, which has affected the dairy sector a lot. Cows have been dying of malnourishment and easily-treatable diseases because of a lack of expert knowledge – trained vets are few and far between. Even if a family is lucky enough to have a cow, it often doesn’t produce enough milk to make much of a profit, and the quality of the milk isn’t great – meaning that the price isn’t great either. But while there are market issues, there are also many people-centered issues that prevent their effective economic engagement. Post war, there is little care and trust for neighbours, women share that “they barely speak at all with neighbours, let alone engage on livelihood matters”. The foundation has been fractured, and along with addressing the market gaps, addressing these social gaps are critical as producers must work together to rise out of poverty.
WHAT WE ARE DOING
Kanala and her family are going to be the newest generation of dairy farmers in Theravil. The aim is to build skills of working together and a value based foundation in all the producers. This is critical as producers must work together in order to solve problems – something that currently does not occur. The programme focuses on the training and mentorship of 12 cornerstones. The first is “passing the gift” where one family passes the first calf born to another family. Cows are sacred in this area, and through this pass the gift programme, deep bonds will be formed between families and communities.
The 12 cornerstones that we will be focusing on in this project are:
- Passing the gift
- Sharing and Caring
- Sustainability and self-reliance
- Improved animal and resource management
- Nutrition and income
- Gender and family focus
- Genuine need and justice
- Improving the environment
- Full participation
- Training, education and communication, and
This is a series of many Dairy projects that we are running in this village to address the barriers in this sector. To learn more about the other projects, which will all work together, please see the following links:
HOW WE ARE DOING IT
This programme is not just about one-off training, it requires deep mentorship, reflections, and continued sharing of experiences. We will leverage the women’s bank that we will have formed in this village to support the delivery of this programme and its ongoing sustainability.
We will also leverage highly trained and skilled experts in these 12 cornerstone topic areas, who will be deeply engaged with the families and the women’s bank, to ensure the programme’s success.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
This programme enables 150 villagers just like Kanala to be supported on these 12 corner stones, critical for their ongoing growth and success in the dairy sector. In order to start this project in Theravil, we need to raise $11,831. This works out at $79 per family; only $16 a year over the 5-year programme to help Kanala enjoy a better future.
A WHOLE OF VILLAGE TRANSFORMATION IN THERAVIL
This project is just one of the projects that we are doing in Theravil. We work through a whole of village approach to improve the economic well being of the families and transform the village. We will spend five years in each village breaking down the barriers that prevent the poor from engaging in profitable markets, and earning enough to stand on their own two feet.
This means barriers both in the market as well as those socio-economic barriers that keep vulnerable families economically excluded.
We will achieve this over a five year period, by:
- Supporting the continued increase of income, assets and savings
- Working to economically empower women & men producers so that they have a voice and agency in the homes, communities and the markets in which they work, and
- Working to reduce the vulnerability of families so that they can recover from shocks and sustain their growth out of vulnerability
This project, “The Cornerstone” is just one of the many we will be undertaking in this village over the next five years. To learn more about the village vision and the many projects that will come together to enable this change, read more here