What does it take for a mother to give up her own children? For some, it may be the pressures of being a single mother. For many, it may be a financial crisis after the death of the father. For all, it would be when putting food on the table was no longer possible. For a Sri Lankan woman named Jeyalalitha, it was all of this and more.
The lives of Jeyalalitha and her two daughters were never those of affluence or even stability. The daily income that her husband made as an unskilled laborer was enough to get by, but ever since he died from severe illness, Jeyalalitha has faced every hardship a mother should never have to endure.
Suddenly, it fell on Jeyalalitha to make money for the children, but it wasn’t that simple. With limited skills, few jobs were available to her. The only skill she could make money with was cooking, but she had very few customers. In order to keep her young teenage daughters safe, Jeyalalitha couldn’t leave the house to work all day.
As her daughters grew older, expenses grew. Neither the government nor local charities could help, and relatives were not supportive. Jeyalalitha worked hard to keep her daughters with her, but eventually made the hardest and most selfless decision a mother could make – to give the children up to an orphanage where their needs would be met.
Jeyalalitha’s daughters outside their home
Childhood is critical in a person’s life and family helps shape childhood. For Jeyalalitha’s daughters, growing up in a family ripped apart by death and poverty was no way for them to experience childhood. These young girls needed someone to care for them beyond what a worker at an orphanage could provide. They needed love and individual attention – they needed their mother.
Jeyalalitha’s story is not unique. In Sri Lanka, parents are resorted to placing their children in orphanages because of the lack of a stable income and opportunities to provide for the home. In the region where Jeyalalitha lives, about a 1,000 children live in orphanages, many of whom could live at home if the family was strengthened.
Jeyalalitha did not give up on her daughters. She visited them often and continued working hard to one day be able to provide for them. We met Jeyalalitha during this time. With the support of a few donors, we supported this hard-working single mother to do the best for her daughters.
Jeyalalitha processing food at home
CERI helped Jeyalalitha buy cooking utensils that would allow her to grow her food sales into small-scale food processing for a nearby hotel. Suddenly, she was able to work and gain a steady flow of income. More than that, she could prepare the food at home, allowing her to be with her daughters.
After two long years apart, her daughters now live with her again.
It’s one of the most beautiful and priceless things when a family can stay together, and it’s because of those who give that this has been made possible. Thanks to the help of a few, we helped one mother provide for her daughters so they could grow at home and have the love they need in life.
A few pots and pans helped one woman today so she could impact her children’s lives forever.
By supporting a family, like Jeyalalitha’s, you can give a child a home!
* Identifying details are modified in stories to protect the privacy of the children and families we serve.