Sithy Siyana sits at her loom every day making sarongs.
The 35-year-old works hard to try and provide for her mother and her two daughters Afros and Afra after her husband died in 2011.
She manages to make two sarongs a day, earning 7,000 Rupees (around GBP £32) a month. It is not very much money, and it does not cover everything they need to pay bills and eat.
She said: “I have been weaving clothes for the last four years after my husband’s death. I have to finish 60 sarongs each month to earn 7,000 Rupees. As the income is low, we worried about managing our day-to-day expenses. We could not afford to save any money. As things are, we borrow from neighbours to meet our daily living expenses.”
The family lives in a basic old house made of bricks and tiles, with a living hall, two rooms and a kitchen in Ampara, in south east Sri Lanka. In heavy rains last year, the walls of their home cracked and are now unstable, and they cannot afford any repairs. Siyana’s mother has arthritis and a large amount of Siyana’s earnings goes towards her medical bills.
“Our hard conditions have caused me frustration and stress. I saw the doctor and he gave me medicine for stress but said I must go back every two months and I cannot afford this,” she added.
Siyana’s two children, who are still struggling to adapt to life without their father, have benefitted from Islamic Relief Sri Lanka’s educational assistance project, which encourages children to focus on their studies and provides them with equipment such as school bags, exercise books and shoes so they can cross difficult terrain to get to class. They are among 1,250 pupils who are receiving support through this project.
“Many parents wish they could offer their children an education and a chance for a bright future,” added Siyana. “My children attend school. The priority is to guide them to be in a good position. We got the education support materials for my daughters at the right time. It was very helpful to us. It has relieved some of our hardship.
“The support makes a huge difference. The best thing is knowing that someone else is interested in seeing my children happy. It is good to know that other people care.”
Many children living in rural areas of Sri Lanka struggle to access a good education. Some live too far away from schools, while others have to work and supplement the household income.