Above: Mr Saranaatupar with his youngest child feeding their Muslim Hands milking goat.
Anuradhphura in Northern Sri Lanka, is remote and picturesque. When it rains the unpaved roads soon turn into mud, electricity is sporadic for the few that it reaches, phone coverage is patchy and running water is a luxury – and often unsafe to drink.
Despite the region’s abundance of natural resources, its population – who largely rely on agriculture – are amongst the nation’s poorest. Animals are costly and with chronic unemployment many families are forced to endure low crop yield and periods of hunger.
Bringing the fluffy friends to Helembagaweva
In March 2014, Muslim Hands Sri Lanka began the novel ‘Agricultural Project’ in the village of Helembagasweva, in Aduradhphura; where 250 Muslim and Buddhist families rely on paddy cultivation, cattle farming and fruit farming not only as a means of food but to sell to the local markets and earn a livelihood.
With the aim of help a village help itself, Muslim Hands Sri Lanka provided the community with livestock, seeds and farming tools. A third of the families chose to receive eithermilking cows, chickens or milking goats. The remaining two thirds opted to receive mango trees, papaw trees, corn seeds and farming tools.
Families attended a series of training session where they learnt how to improve their farming techniques and received help on how to access supply chains and markets.
MH Sri Lanka also set up a community based organisation as a platform for 15 men and women and selected by families in the local area to meet on a weekly basis with a local government representative. To date, the meeting have been very successful in resolving issues raised and have also helped in creating a unite community spirit amongst the villagers.
The impact so far
Although the project is in its early stages vast improvements are already being felt by the beneficiary families. The project, serves over 1,000 people by not only providing food for themselves, but by also increasing the income of farmers, meaning that they have enough money for the education of their children.
Father of three young children Mr Saranaatupar in the village of Helembagaweva said:
” Muslim Hands has helped and trained farmers living in poverty to grow enough food to eat and earn a decent income. They’ve laid the foundation for a better future for my children. More importantly, they’ve united people living in this village and we are going to continue to grow as a community long after they are gone.”
For more information on Muslim Hands Livelihoods Programmes please visit: http://muslimhands.org.uk/our-work/livelihoods/