Meghamala (47) is a single mother living in Katana, caring for both her aged mother Agnes (82) and her granddaughter Oshadi (7). While she has two sons, her eldest son (Oshadi’s father) works as a daily-wage labourer and contributes little towards Oshadi’s well-being and daily needs. Meghamala’s husband who was the sole breadwinner of the family throughout their 20-year marriage, left her and the children destitute when he abandoned her. Without a place of their own to call home, Meghamala and the children were forced to move into a rented one-bedroom space, and have been living there for many years. Although she has inherited a plot of land, she lacks much-needed funds to build a home.
Not having any other means of providing for her family, Meghamala began her own home-based business of sewing door-mats with fabric. This small-scale business generates only a very limited income, therefore Meghamala also depends on her younger son Nishad (24) to support her and the family. Very often Meghamala and the family have been forced to seek help to pay rent and meals, from neighbours and relatives, which weighs heavy on Meghamala’s heart.
She says, their dire financial circumstances have been exacerbated further due to the Covid-19 crisis. She no longer makes any sales on her doormats and her two sons are also without an income as daily-wage labourers have lost all job opportunities during the quarantine period.
To Meghamala and her family, a new home would be symbolic of self-reliance. They will be safe in a space of their own and there will be no additional burdens of having to pay rent and risk of eviction – and this will no doubt help enhance their quality of life and sense of stability.
“Each month, we’re at the mercy of our landlord, unsure if we will be evicted if we’re unable to cover the cost of the rent. All I have ever wanted to was to know that my family will one day have a place of our own to call home. A new home would mean the world to us… it would give us breathing space.” – Meghamala, Negombo