Journal – Feb 6, 2006. By Pamela Porodo
After many hours of wondering what the best way to let readers know what is happening in the Work for Widows program, the team has decided that a journal would be a nice way to keep people informed.
So, over one year from the inception of Work for Widows; I try to start the chronicle and I wonder where to begin. To tell the whole story would take massive words and hours to read. To share all the memories would take just as long. So magical moments and memorable times is where we will begin. On January 17th, 2005, three weeks after the Tsunami, a group of volunteers were working in a camp in Moratuwa just outside of Colombo. In a temple where the camp had been formed, hundreds of survivors were being housed in horrendous conditions. Our task at the time was to ensure that the survivors were fed, clothed and treated for ailment caused by the massive wave that hit the coastline.
The monk running the temple was a gentle man that cared deeply for each person living within the walls. He approached us and asked for our help with a specific girl that was 6 months pregnant, she was hoarding medication from the other survivors and he could not get her to tell him why. We sat with her for many hours and finally the answer came. She was going to kill herself. This beautiful 21 year old girl had lost her mother, father, husband and 3 year old child in the Tsunami and without a home or family she was feared enough for her future that she felt her only option was to end her life and that of her unborn child. The medicine she had been taking from the others was pinned tightly in the inside of her skirt.
Without a plan of action, I promised her that we would help her and that we would make sure she had a job and a way to take care of herself and her child if she would give me the bag and stop her plans of suicide. Between her tears and mine, I left the camp holding the bag of medicine with a promise to return.
Driving back from the camp, we all sat in silence until I noticed a bead shop on the corner of a small hamlet just outside of Colombo and that’s when it came to me how to help this sweet soul. Within hours we had purchased all the requirements for her to start making jewelry and Work for Widows was born. Within a few days we had 14 women in the program that had yet to be completely designed.
Now with over 130 women in the program that have learned to manufacture over 10 different products, we look back at the beginning and smile for as the old saying goes… “a child shall lead the way”. We are pleased to report that the young 21 year old girl and her new baby are now out of the program as a marriage has taken place and a new family has begun. But she will always be our guiding light and our inspiration to go on.