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Sponsorship brings hope in Sri Lanka

10-year-old Vijayakumaratharun (nicknamed Tharun) and his mum, Ithayakala, live in a rural village in Batticaloa in eastern Sri Lanka. Batticaloa district is a popular tourist destination, famous for its natural beauty and so-called €˜singing fish` lurking under the Kallady Bridge. Yet with the majority of the population living below the poverty line, life is not always easy.

Ithayakala, 34, was abandoned by her husband when her son was very small. With little education, she earned what she could selling the vegetables she grew in her small home garden, plus doing odd jobs and working in rice paddies, which is seasonal work. Tharun says it made him sad to see his mother cry.

But when Tharun was sponsored three years ago through ChildFund Sri Lanka, his mother saw a ray of hope.

“Things have changed for us now,” Ithayakala says. Although she still struggles to make enough money, the strain has decreased. “Almost all of his educational expenses are covered thanks to sponsorship,” she adds.

In addition to his sponsorship, Tharun and his mother were provided with three goats and three cows. Ithayakala sells surplus milk, which helps to supplement their income.

Ithyakala has had the opportunity to participate in ChildFund`s nutrition program, where she learned about growing and cooking nutritious food for her son. Now, she is a leader and teaches other mothers the same skills. She has also benefited from child protection programs organised by ChildFund Sri Lanka for the community.

Tharun shares with us a photograph and letters he has received from his sponsor in New Zealand. The kea, he points out from a card with several animals from New Zealand, is his favourite. “I want to thank her for all the greeting cards and letters she has sent me,” he says. “I have learned new things about her family in New Zealand and about the animals there.”

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