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How $80 Changed a War Survivor’s Life

The war that ravaged the northern and eastern areas of Sri Lanka is not a distant memory for Ehambaram.

Like so many other victims of war, Ehambaram relives the painful past every day. “I am sad because of what I lost in the war,” he shares. Among what he lost includes five family members and his entire home.

However, the day that is etched in his memory is April 22, 2009: the day he lost a part of his left hand.

Just a month before the conflict ended, Ehambaram fell victim to gunfire.

The injuries he sustained make it challenging to do even the most mundane activities. In addition to losing part of his hand, Ehambaram also still has bullets lodged in his spine and his head that makes it difficult to do heavy work.

To make matters worse, Ehambaram is the breadwinner of a young family, and no one is willing to employ him because of his disability. And like so many others who were handicapped physically and financially by the 30-year war, Ehambaram is heavily burdened by loans.

His only mode of income is state welfare, which gives him about $20 a month. While this is some help, he puts most of the money towards paying off loans—leaving little left to care for his family.

“I find it extremely difficult to find food for our daily meals,” says Ehambaram.

Around this time, Ehambaram first heard about our local partner NCEASL. He learned how they help survivors of the war, along with other marginalized groups, start and grow sustainable businesses that improve their living standards.

For the first time since the war—for the first time since his injury—Ehambaram felt hope.

If NCEASL could help him start a business, then Ehambaram could finally pay off his debts and lift his family out of poverty.

Ehambaram requested help from NCEASL’s Business Development Unit. Together they discussed Ehambaram’s inability to engage in heavy work and decided he should try poultry farming.

To get started, NCEASL gifted him a grant of $15 to purchase poultry and $65 for a bicycle. Just $80 set Ehambaram on the path to a better life. 

While he waits for his chicks to grow, Ehambaram has started to plant manioc (or cassava) in his garden. He uses his bicycle to transport his products to market, about 10 km from his home.

Though his business is just getting started, Ehambaram shares his gratitude for the help he has received.

“There was no one to help us,” he remembers. “When we asked organizations for help, they would only collect our details and not provide assistance. I am very grateful to you for giving me chickens and a bicycle in my time of need.”

For less than $100, you can equip people like Ehambaram to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. Make a gift today.