In 1860, a devastating crop disease ravaged entire coffee productions in the Central Province of Sri Lanka, aka the hill country. The then British rulers introduced tea plantations which until today is famously known all over the world, simply as Ceylon tea. But tea plantations require very intensive and back breaking labor by agile and quick plucking fingers. Hence, majority of the laborers on tea estates are women. Such a woman was Parvathy whose two daughters Puwaneshwari and younger Pawalarani were born both with somewhat severe physical handcaps and health issues.
Sadly, Puwaneshwari passed this year in February at the age of 34. An undiagnosed condition rendered her so small, she often was mistaken for a child. From birth she struggled with respiratory and other health issues. Despite her ever failing health, the village knows her for her knitted-doll cottage industry … a gift she possessed and which was also encouraged and sponsored by a donor, Olga d.l.V, living in Toronto, Canada, and others.
Younger sister, Pawalarani, 30 years old, lives with mother Parvathy, now retired and living on a very small pension. Their very modest line quarters is on the Bathgoda Tea Estate. Despite Pawalarani’s handicap, she managed to attend school, and graduated high school. Afterwards, she obtained a diploma in computer typing. She taught herself Excel and Photoshop. She became the village typist and assisted villagers to fill out medical, government and other “official” forms. Pawalarani had requested, on my September 2012 visit to their home, a new computer to replace an old one that broke. Two weeks after her sister passed in February, Mother Foundation purchased a new computer for her, and a replacement cartridge for an older printer she possessed. Since then, she has been once again successfully self employed, and she is saving towards starting her own little “computer shop” selling stationery and computer services. Since she cannot travel to any office or work place, being able to work at home, and also provide important services to her community is a wish come true for her.