Disabled Couple comes out Stronger from the Tsunami

Mr. Sunil Paranamana a 44 year old carpenter by profession, but both deaf and dumb married to Ms. Thanuja Nishadi Gunawardena (again deaf), with a son 16 years of age and 2 month old daughter, hails from Netolpitiya, in the Hambantota District. Very fortunately both husband and wife have had some schooling through the auspices of a school for special children. Sunil has had the good fortune of being trained in carpentry at this same school. But he found it difficult to get customers for his trade, due to problems in social integration and the lack of the required tools.

Then with the tsunami the NGO, Nawajeevana, which specializes in rural programmes to assist those with disabilities, was identifying victims of the tsunami who needed assistance. Sunil was fortunate enough to be selected for the tsunami rehabilitation programme initiated by them with support from the District Consortium and the SLCDF funded by Development and Peace.

Sunil wanted to be self employed and not be working for others all his life for a pittance. He set his sights on acquiring a woodworking machine costing around Rs.30,000. He had savings of Rs.20,000 from all his years of drudgery. Now the NGO was doing its best to integrate this family into the local community and was willing to provide him a loan of Rs.10,000 to look after his balance investment needs.

With the new woodworking machine Sunil was able to do more work and produce more items of furniture. He was now getting new orders for furniture from the locality. Sunil is now well on his way to a sustainable livelihood already making a net profit of Rs.5,000 – 6,000 every month. More than that the couple is fast getting integrated in to the local community thanks to their decision to invest in a small home based machine which brought about a great leap in productivity. In a couple of years their son will be sitting the G.C.E. (Ordinary Level) Examination, the first hurdle to steady employment.