When you think about Sri Lanka, you may think “paradise”, and in many ways you are right, but parts of the country still experience shocking hardship. The Northern Province of Sri Lanka continues to suffer significant poverty after the devastating 28 year civil war, which only came to an end in 2009.

Women and young people are most severely affected. There are an estimated 40,000 women who are the sole providers for their family, many of whom are war widows. Young people in Sri Lanka find it difficult to get jobs regardless of skill or qualification, with educated young people making up a third of Sri Lanka’s unemployed. 

Both women and young people often experience difficulty escaping poverty and face discrimination based on their ethnicity, age or gender.

In 2018 we hope to return to Sri Lanka, empowering women and young people to take control of their own livelihoods, giving them the opportunities they so desperately need, but we need your help.

We want to provide the skills, training and resources that women and young people need to start their own co‑operative enterprise. We also want to develop support organisations, so that these people can thrive, not just survive.

Sri with her Co-operatives cow in the Northern Province

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Sri Baskaralingam Jeyanthini, a young mother of four, spent most of her life living poverty. She became involved in the Co‑operative College 2015 project, which introduced almost 2,000 women experiencing disadvantage to the benefits of co‑operatives, business planning and co-operative governance. 

Through the project Sri Baskaralingam learnt that she could escape poverty by forming a group with women who were in a similar position to her and set up a co‑operative. After the support of the project, she knew exactly what she needed to do to make that happen.

During the training she met a group of local women, who collectively decided to buy a cow. They collectively took a loan to purchase the cow, spreading risk and each took responsibility for looking after the cow. By selling milk they were able to increase their income and provide more for their family.

We learnt from the workshop that through the co‑operation of many people we could run a business.

Your donation will make this important follow up project possible and immeasurably transform communities in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province.

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Real projects. Real people. Real change.