Sri Lankans rebuild livelihoods with new skills

The “Monument of Peace” is a reminder
that peace has returned to Sri Lanka but the lives and livelihoods devastated
by a quarter century of civil war will take longer to recover. On Sri Lanka’s northeast coast, a fishing fleet returns from a night’s work, but many of the fishers
in this fleet are women who lost their husbands during the war. Left to raise four children on her own, Selvasingam Mariyamalar
received skills training from the International Labour Organization
to enable her to work on local fishing boats instead of migrating to find work abroad. She now has enough money
each month to support her family. “The support [from the ILO] meant I could stay at home
and look after my children, and not go away to work. I thank the ILO very much for supporting me.” Suganthy used to run a small
tailoring business out of her home. With the help of the ILO
she expanded it into a shop, creating several new jobs at the same time. “I got training from the ILO and some loans
with lower interest from banks. Then, I bought more machines
and employed three more people. Now I have six employees.” Suganthy told a local welder
about the ILO’s training. What he learned helped him
build his business. “I attended a training workshop
organized by the ILO and I completed this business plan
with Suganthy’s help. It helped me make more money.” The ILO also helped
the local business people organize themselves into cooperatives, to share their experiences, learn from them and plan for the future. Sri Lanka’s farmers can make a better living
from the land as well as the sea because of the technical support
from the ILO that helped them modernize
their farming methods, identifying high demand crops and
get their products to market. Those products include
farmed sea cucumbers and sea bass raised from ILO sponsored aquaculture projects. The ILO, along with the government
brokered partnership between the producers in the North
and the buyers in the South linking businesses and enlarging their markets. Rebuilding from the civil war
will take many years but with help from the ILO, many Sri Lankans are well on their way
to rebuilding their lives, and their livelihoods.

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