Eight years ago I went to Sri Lanka. It was so impactful I couldn’t speak about it for three months.

We were in the north where the war had come to its bloody end in 2009, to see the start of a new project Tearfund was pioneering.

As we drove past bombed-out buildings, met people with war injuries and heard first-hand stories of the devastation, it was all I could do to pick up my camera and notepad and document it.

During that visit, I met Praveendran and his wife Chithradevi. At the time, they lived in a makeshift shelter made of grass and scraps of tin. They had two little girls and were recovering from a war that had devastated their livelihoods and destroyed their land. They had a huge hole the size of a car in their front yard from a shell. Their vulnerability in sharing their story and their kindness towards their children stuck with me.


At the time, Tearfund’s partner was coming alongside them and their community through smallholder dairy farmer training, women’s savings groups and a children's club.
When I learnt I was to head back to Sri Lanka in February 2020, I was so excited about visiting them again!

For many families living in the north of Sri Lanka, dairying was a way of life but it had never been more than a minor income option. What if we were to help these farmers get back on their feet post-war by giving them a cow, training them up with best-practice dairy farming methods and creating milk collection points for them to sell their milk? What would it look like to come alongside war widows in Sri Lanka with NZ expertise in dairying (chilling centres and supply chains) and help them make it their main source of income?

Eight years ago we started with just eight farmers. Today, we have over 4500 farmers, 7,500 children and 1,500 women in our programme!


Shortly after we began, the New Zealand Government heard about our pioneering work in Sri Lanka and decided they’d like to jump on board. Thanks to their involvement, our eight initial farmers went from producing 150L of milk a month to approximately 1,500 farmers producing 500,000L of milk each month.

Soon that snowballed into private Kiwi organisations that specialise in dairy wanting to get involved, and finally some amazing private donors. For the last eight years, we’ve been testing, refining and improving the project. But we hope the next chapter of this story will involve you! To get this project to the next level of reaching 10,000 farmers, it’s going to take not just the government, not just the private donors, but our incredible supporters, like you, to get it across the line for people like Praveendran.

“We were very poor and under the poverty line when you met us. With two children it was very difficult to run our family. We didn’t even have anything. We had some cattle and we cultivated paddy fields on a small scale. We were given some cows for milking and selling as well as some cattle breeding and feeding training. That was very significant for us. From the training, we learned how to make our income increase. Today we have eight calves and five cows.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I met this couple 8 years ago here in Sri Lanka. At the time I interviewed them they lived in a makeshift shelter made of grass and scraps of tin. They had two little girls and were recovering from a war that had devastated their livelihoods and destroyed their land. They literally had a huge hole the size of a car in their front yard from a shell/bomb. Their vulnerability in sharing their story and their gentle kindness towards their children stuck with me. At the time, Tearfund’s partner was beginning to come alongside them and their community through farmer training, women’s savings groups and a childrens club. When I found out I was to head back to Sri Lanka one of the things I was so excited about was to pop in and visit them again! Today they have a home made of concrete, their girls are grown up and in school and they have three cows and five calves. They still have challenges and life is far from perfect. But it’s better, way better and that’s good development. When they asked to have a photo together I said sure! Then she pulled me into her lap and made me sit there 😂 #gooddevelopment #srilanka with @tearfundnz

A post shared by Helen Manson (@helenmanson) on

Today they have a home made of concrete, their girls are grown up and in school and they are doing ok. They still have challenges and life is far from perfect, but it’s way better than before.

 
Click link below if you want to be part of helping more farmers thrive
through dairy farming and give to our In Every Season Appeal or call 0800 800 777. 

Click Here

 
 

Watch this beautiful video about the dairy project in Sri Lanka



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