Nalayini and Chinniah, both in their 50s, have overcome more obstacles than most couples do in a lifetime.  

They didn’t have an easy life before the civil war in Sri Lanka. They were living in poverty, raising their five children, and were only able to afford one meal a day instead of the usual three.  

“My husband worked as a labourer in the paddy fields and cut firewood, while I was at home with the children,” says Nalayini. “Life was very difficult. We didn’t have a traditional house with all the furnishings. We lived in a small place made from coconut leaves and slept on a mat on the ground. We would always get wet when it rained. We lived like that for a long time,” she says.

body-2-(1).jpg Nalayini and Chinniah.

A world turned upside down 

When the civil war started in Sri Lanka, Nalayini and Chinniah with their children fled for their lives.  "We moved from place to place because the bombs were falling everywhere. We hid in bunkers to protect ourselves. We were convinced we would die.” 

The couple managed to make it to one of the camps for displaced people where they stayed for a year. “We were given food and water and other basics, but we couldn’t go anywhere. All we wanted was to go home.” 

When the war was over, the family returned to their home village, but they were traumatised. 
“We were scared all the time. We feared the bombing would start up again—that the whole war would start all over.” 

Not only that, when the family returned there was nothing left. Goats and cows—gone. Their home—totally destroyed. 

body-1.jpg
Cows from Tearfund's partners post-war dairy project.

Moving forward one step at a time 

Nalayini and Chinniah rebuilt their lives step-by-step with determination. They didn’t have any other choice.  

“At first, we built a kind of makeshift house. After a couple of months, we were able to get some supplies to make our house a little stronger. After three years, we managed to build a sturdy, brick home for our family.” 

At the same time, the couple joined Tearfund’s dairy farming programme. They had owned cows before the war and knew the basics of how to care for livestock.  

"We received a pregnant cow and attended various training sessions on how to care for and raise the cows well so we could increase their milk supply.” 

Their cow gave birth and their business began to snowball. They managed to get the cow’s milk production up from 1.5 litres a day to 15 litres a day. Each day, they biked to the local collection point built by Tearfund’s partner to deliver the milk. There, it was sold to a local dairy company and the profits put back in the pockets of people like Nalayini and Chinniah.
 

Witnessing the fruits of their labour 

In the first time in their lives, Nalayini and Chinniah were earning enough money to eat three meals a day and pay for their kids’ education—thanks to one cow and a lot of hard work! 

“Our second child was able to go to university with the money we earned!” 

Today, 12 years later, the couple have five cows and a thriving business. They are breaking the chains of poverty for the next generation by passing some of the cows down to their daughters. 

“We want the simple things in life—to be happy, see our children get an education, marry and live happy lives, and have enough to meet our needs. Now, we are finally doing just that.” 

Today, thousands of farmers and their families are starting successful dairy farming businesses, saving for the future, and participating in youth groups—thanks to Tearfund’s dairy programme in Sri Lanka and the amazing people financially supporting this important work.  

Want to join dozens of churches all over New Zealand who are making a difference for people like Nalayini and Chinniah in Sri Lanka this year? Join the Big Quiz Night—a night of quizzing fun and raising money to help end extreme poverty. 


 

 

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