A welcome turning point

Kalaichelvi at work

For Kalaichelvi Kandasamy (23), sewing had always been her passion, and this is evident in the collection of simple, yet beautifully designed dresses that are laid out beside her sewing machine.

It was a dream come true for Kalaichelvi, who lives in Tharmakkeni in the Pachchilaipalli DS Division in Kilinochchi, when she received a sewing machine from UNDP as part of its activities conducted under the Vanni Rehabilitation Project (VRP) of the Transition Recovery Programme (TRP). Funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the project is aimed at facilitating sustainable resettlement of returnees and improving their socio-economic conditions.

Deeply affected by the loss of family members and continuous displacement, Kalaichelvi grew up with her uncle. Having ended her education after the Ordinary Level Examination, Kalaichelvi learnt sewing from a well wisher at no cost. However, she was not in a position to buy a sewing machine. Yet, she was determined to further her skills in this field, and it indeed a welcome turning point when the WRDS and Grama Niladhari prioritized her as a potential livelihood beneficiary.

UNDP provided her with a livelihood package of Rs 30,000 consisting of a sewing machine, table, and chair. There is pride in her voice as she tells us that she now receives regular orders and is able to sew at least one frock per day. Describing this as a turning point in her life, she explained that she is now happy as she is able to earn a steady income. Currently, she earns around Rs. 1,000 per week. Her aunt is quick to add at this point, “after getting involved in sewing, Kalaichelvi seems to be happier and satisfied with her life.”

As she is also engaged in cash for work activities carried out by Sewalanka in her village at present, there is little time for her to spend on sewing at home. Yet, she expressed confidence that she would be able to increase her earnings as well as provide a more diverse range of clothes to those of her community.