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Dammika with her mother and daughter
Dammika with her mother and daughter

Photograph Information Photographer's Comments
Location: Kuruwita Community, Sri Lanka
Date: Feb 1, 2008
Galleries: Portraiture, Photojournalism
Date Uploaded: Mar 8, 2008

Viewed: 321
Comments: 2
Favorites: 0

Barely 24, Dammika owns a modest tea leaf enterprise that she undertook by herself at 18. With little prospect of furthering her education and of obtaining decent employment, she turned to the only recourse known to her in order to earn a living and be independent. “I planted all 1,000 tea plants myself and the land is mine,” she declares referring to the quarter of an acre of land surrounding us. Then, she points beyond and adds that she has started building her own house.

At the beginning, Dammika was able to obtain only two kilograms of green tea leaves per month. She saved diligently whenever possible to be able to buy fertilizers but it was never enough. She then joined her village people’s company and was able to obtain a loan of 5,000 LKR (under 50 USD) at two percent interest, which she used for this purpose. She paid off the loan in 10 months and her tea plants now yield about 145 kilograms per month. At 53 LKR for each kilogram, Dammika earns about 7,600 LKR per month (70 USD a month). Thanks to the newly paved road that her fellow villagers organized to build, tea processing companies now send in their lorries more often to collect fresh tea leaves from remote tea planters. Dammika sells her tea leaves and buys fertilizer for her next crop from the lorry each month.
Dammika is a new generation of young women who are beginning to feel emancipated from the vicious cycle of abject poverty and government hand-outs, thanks to an innovative approach baptized as //www.gemidiriya.orgThe Sinhala word, meaning “village strength” embodies the belief that in rural communities, if provided with information, decision-making power and resource assistance for self-help initiatives where women play a role, their combined strength and capability will help them rise above helplessness and hopelessness.

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03/08/2008 02:24:50 PM
As fast as ever Mark. Thanks and you are right, it is part of the collection of photos I took while on a field trip with the World Bank and the Gemidiriya Foundation in the course of a project we are working on. I actually wrote a story of these women in commemoration of International Women's Day (Mar 8) which is expected to go online in the next few days. Will come back and post the link when it's up. Meantime, I've added an excerpt from the story under the photo.

Message edited by author 2008-03-08 14:25:48.
03/08/2008 11:50:59 AM
A most interesting series Eileen...was this some sort of project you were involved with? Love all the expressions in this one.
  Photographer found comment helpful.

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