Subashi Jayamini (10) is being the change-agent in her family, her keen interest in studies and exemplary behavior has set the standard for the younger siblings.
We asked her how this change took place over the two year period in Subashi Jayamini’s life.
“When the project was started I was among 60 children selected to be child partners from my village. Both my sister and I were given attention from that point onwards. We are members of the Challenge Child Club where we were taught new things like cleanliness, nutrition and good habits. Because of our involvement my mother started to attend committee meetings of the Child Club and taking up responsibilities”.
“Earlier I was rather lazy, I didn’t care much about my appearance, cleanliness or manners. I was like a wild flower, growing wild. I wanted things done my way. Those days my mother scolded me because I did not like doing homework. When she forced me to do the homework and I would fight with her as I did not take criticism well. Often I fought with my siblings. All this was making me a stubborn and mischievous child” explained Subashi.The change took place when Subashi was selected as a child-agent and she was enrolled to the Child Club in Thamannawa village in Habanthota district. The club was started by the Child Centered Development (CCD) project initiated by LEADS. After a few months the children’s attitudes and behaviors improved because of the valuable lessons that were done during weekly sessions. The clubs did interesting activities that invigorated the children’s learning process.
Subashi says “In the child club there were other children and soon we became friends. We started to help each other in doing tasks. We were very attentive during sessions because we were learning interesting things. When I went home I started to share these experiences. I became more caring towards my sisters. I felt I had to work together. I started to help my mother in household work. Taking responsibility as the eldest in the family of four children was something new I learned at the Child Clubs.”
“I became more responsible about my studies. I felt proud of what I was doing in school. My mother didn’t have to scold me any more I was doing homework on my own” added the child.
The CCD project has touched the lives of 323 children in Thamannawa and Ellala GN divisons. Subashini says she thinks the community is more aware about child protection in the village. LEADS has conducted several programmes to educate the community people on the importance of caring and protecting the children.
We asked Subashi what changes she wished to see in her village, as a child. “Well we don’t actually have a school in our village. We have to travel far to Hambantota town. This makes us tired and it’s costing us much to get to school every day. I wish we had our own school in our village” she said.
“Similarly I wish we had a hospital nearby and that patients don’t have to be taken to the town which is 15 kms away from the village. I want our village to have improved roads and transportation facilities. I also wish we grew flowers along the paths and that our homes were beautifully decorated” said Subashi wishfully.
Suhabshi Jayamini is the eldest child of Nadika (34) and T. B. Jayananda (37) in a family of six. Subashi Jayamini (10) and Prabashi Dewmini (8) both attend Bandagiriya School in Hambantota. As a student of grade five Subashini will be sitting for the Scholarship exam which is an important milestone that determines a child’s secondary education. Her father works as a carpenter in a building construction done by the Sri Lanka Navy. However been a civilian employee he get around 25,000 LKR monthly. This is not enough to meet the expenses of four children and an extended family as well. The family forgoes other luxuries because they value their children’s education. The parents somehow manage to pay the tuition fees so that Subashi will be able to face the fifth standard scholarship exam with confidence.
The family live in Thamannawa, a village in the outskirts of Hambantota town, in the dry zone area of Southern Sri Lanka. The climate is very hot and the area has very few ground water sources serving for their cooking, washing and cultivation purposes. Rain fall is very limited in the dry zone, the water lasts only for a limited period of time. Therefore villagers face droughts that adversely affect cultivation. Subashi’s grandparents who lives with them, grows vegetables in their home garden. Farmers face many hardships to ensure their crops do not fail. Crop failure is a main reason to generational-poverty in the dry zone area. There are a few alternative income sources such as fisheries, dairy farming and small industries. For poor people it is difficult to find the necessary capital investment for business.
Jayananda on the other hand is lucky to be employed. He would one day like to do carpentry on his own. Even though most poor people do not have the resources or the desire to educate their children Subashi’s parents are very keen on giving their daughters a sound education. Without a proper education children will face the same fate as their forefathers. It is only through the completion of secondary schooling and vocational training they could pursue a business or a trade.
The CCD project plans to address this issue and provide livelihoods development assistance in the next phase.