Text by SWOAD – Eleven dependants including children, husband and wife in a family were living at Cemetery Road, Vinayagapuram-03 during the year 2007. When they were living, they found it difficult to manage with the meager income of the husband and as a result, the wife planned to go to Saudi Arabia for employment, leaving her 08 months old child in 2008. During this period, the elder daughter was reported to have committed suicide. Thereafter, they have shifter from their house and living in a piece of land at a village Palakuda in Vinayagapuram in at present.
Now, the other elder daughter of remaining 8 children, had gone to Jordan in 2009 for employment. The mother who had gone to Saudi Arabia, leaving behind her 08 months old child, returned to Sri Lanka. She lived with her children for nearly two months and again went to Saudi Arabia for employment in January. As a result, the girl born as the 3rd child in the family who reached age of 19 years, gave up her education and she, thinking it as her fate, looks after her sisters and brothers, cooking, washing clothes and doing other odd works for them as if a mother in the family. According to neighbors, her two younger sisters and two younger brothers attend to school and they do not attend to school at times due to difficulties in the family.
The father in the family, has gone to Polannaruwa area to work in the paddy field as it is a harvesting period. His children say that he would return home after one month. Discussed with neighbors and it was revealed that the father of these children used to consume liquor an does not show much interest in the welfare of these children. The neighbors, also say that the father used to consume liquor due to worries that his wife gone abroad for employment.
Of the 09 children, two are boys and the boy aged 7 years, attend to school. The elder boy Nishanthan, aged 14 years, work for a Mudalali known as ‘THAMBY” who has cattle of buffaloes. The boy takes the herd of buffaloes to the grazing field in a forestry land called Thamarakulam which is nearly 10 km away, maintains the cattle and milking. For this work, the boy is given Rs.9000/- as his salary monthly. This boy aged 14 years old, giving up his education, happened to be a shepherd at an age to study, without access to love and affection of his parents. As though the children are away from their father and mother, the way they live in unity, is second to none. They have had their breakfast, lunch and dinner getting together at same the time. As the house is too small, the elder one pointed out that they could have this house because of the fact that their mother went abroad and that they all are thruster to sleep together without sufficient space at night. They do not have a toilet. They prepared a place with a covering for the toilet purposes.
This reportage was done in an assignment for the SDC - Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in the region of Ampara in eastern Sri Lanka.