After Susmitha's mother died, her entire family fell apart. This is a powerful story of a young girl with a sewing machine and the determination to keep fighting for a better future.
My name is Susmitha. When I was younger, I lived in a beautiful family with my father, mother and four older brothers. We were happy and seen as a model family by the whole village. We were very close and never let each other down.
When I was 13, my mother became sick and spent a year in the hospital. Doctors could not figure out what was wrong. She was sent to a hospital out of town for special treatment and before I could arrive and see her, my mother passed away. It was hard for me to accept because I had gone there to bring her back home.
My father had to care for us now, but after a year, he left us to remarry. Because of this, we faced insults and disrespect from our village. My oldest brother’s fiancé wanted to take us in, but her family did not approve. After a few days, she stopped caring for us and abused us verbally and physically.
I prayed daily, felt alone, and contemplated suicide. My life felt like it was at a standstill. I had to drop out of school because I failed my exams. I had no job potential and no way of learning.
During that time, my favorite thing was to play with my dog. I also had a friend that helped me and when I was sad. I would tell her all my troubles and dreams for the future.
One day, my friend told me about an organization named CERI that was coming to our village. I attended a workshop for youth on personality development. On the first day of the workshop, I learned about my strengths and weaknesses and discovered who I was. I wanted to learn more, so I kept in touch with CERI. I attended a second workshop on handling my emotions, making decisions and dealing with problems.
Youth in Sri Lanka attend a workshop on life skills
I learned how to cope with the hardships I faced.
CERI also helped me prepare for a career. I learned what opportunities were open to me and visited vocational training centers. I decided I wanted to open a tailoring shop in my village. But, my village didn’t have a way for me to learn how to sew. So, CERI started a sewing center for young girls like me who didn’t have a way to advance. I attended the 6-month program and learned to sew. I can now make clothes for myself and earn money.
Young girls attend a class at CERI's sewing center in Sri Lanka
Through the workshops provided by CERI, I was able to learn to live with others and have a career. Now, I am a member of a youth club and participate in community activities. With everything I have been through in the past, I was once worried about my life. I am now 22 years old and can see a brighter future.
Our Transitional Care program is helping youth like Susmitha learn important life skills and be prepared for a career.