Travel Reports


Micro Credit Program for Widows

Bank Cial donated the necessary money to start the micro credit program and we would like to express our gratitude once again. 

I have spent many hours researching the principals of micro credit programs and existing projects.  It seemed to work in all third world countries and also, with illiterate women.  If there was an element of uncertainty, then it was their drinking husbands.

At least, that was one problem the widows of Hambantota did not have to deal with!

Zariya, Roy`s sister-in-law who lives in Hambantota had agreed to manage the program.  She coached and assisted the women and kept the records of the loans and the repayments.  We decided that there was no need to rent a central facility as the women would work at home anyway.  Some kind of meeting point for the widows would have been great but that was beyond our financial possibilities.

It was already hard enough to motivate the women to participate in the project.  Traditionally, these women were not used to taking responsibility outside the family home.  Having to do so after the shock and the personal loss they suffered, did not make it easier on them.

We also had to convince Zariya to take over the management.  She was afraid she would be held responsible for unpaid loans.  We held long talks with her to explain the spirit and purpose of the program and offered her the same payment as the Kindergarten teachers, 3000 rupees a month. 

All women had to fill out an application form with information such as:  what they planned to do;  how much money they would need to get started;  and how much they would be able to pay back monthly.

Their profile was quite different from regular customers of a bank and the worst case scenario would have been that all of us learned a lot.

We made them understand that their signature was legally binding and that their repayments would go into a pool from where other credits could be financed.

At the same time, we agreed with Zariya to look at each payment plan individually and avoid unnecessary pressure.

The program was started with ten widows and a credit volume of 4,600 Swiss francs.  The repayments would start in January 2006, and should add up to 8,800 rupees.  As none of the participants of the project (including us) had any experience with micro credit programs, we decided not to increase the number of loans during the first year and look at the progress first. 

The next visit to Sri Lanka is planned for March/April 2006 and a visit to all these widows’ houses will be a fixed part of the schedule.

We left with the best hopes for a good outcome.

Applied for a credit and were approved are:

Jayawaranrachi Kusamanwathie






Jayawaranrachi Kusamanwathie, 06.06.1956   


Maamadala, Ambalantota, Haugamwagura


Credit:  Rs. 30`000, monthly payments Rs. 300


She wanted to buy a water pump to intensify growing vegetables.


She has two sons and two daughters, ages 13 to 18.









Mohamed Khalid Safanona, 12.12.1968


19/4 Marray road, Hambantota

Credit:  Rs. 30`000, monthly payment Rs. 1,000

She wanted to start a catering business.

She has a 15 year old son.

Sithy Fawzia Careem, 10.02.1944


6/63 Main road, Hambantota

Credit:  Rs. 50`000, monthly payment Rs. 1,000

Her house needed repair, so she can again teach English and Arabic.

She has a 22 year old son.

Chammi Cassim





Chammi Cassim, 26.02.1976


85 CARE International Housing Scheme, Siribopura, Hambantota

Credit:  Rs. 35`000, monthly payment Rs. 1,000







She lived in Colombo and lost her husband in a motorbike accident in March 2004 when seven months pregnant.  Ten days later she had a miscarriage.  After that she returned to her parents in Hambantota.

She already had been working with a treadle sewing machine at the refugee camp and wanted to buy an embroidery machine.  She was one of the Ladies who have been very happy about the thread we had brought with us.  Thanks again to the provider.

Sithy Mohara Kaman


Sithy Mohara Kaman, 02.06.1958


28A Arabokka road, Hambantota


Credit:  Rs. 30`000, monthly payment Rs. 1,500


She wanted to invest in chicken farming.


She has two children, ages 10 and 14.





Sithy Shamila Nilamdeen


Sithy Shamila Nilamdeen, 23.10.1965


146 Alokapura, Hambantota

Credit:  Rs. 30`000, monthly payment Rs. 1,000


She wanted to start a tailoring business.


She has a child of 18.  She lost a 12 year old in the tsunami.







 Muhammed Nihara





Muhammed Nihara, 08.09.1968


159/25 Marray road, Hambantota


Credit:  Rs. 30`000, monthly payment Rs. 500


She wanted to buy a mill to grind chili.


She has four children between 4 and 16 years.









Usuf Sithy Saliha






Usuf Sithy Saliha, 23.10.1949


29/3A Galwala Circuit road, Hambantota


Credit:  Rs. 40`000, monthly payment Rs. 1,000


She wanted to buy a refrigerator to be able to produce ice cream.


She has two sons at the age of 26 and 27.









M.Kiyan Sithy Alkamiya



M.Kiyan Sithy Alkamiya, 14.07.1968


77 Sippikulama, Hambantota


Credit:  Rs. 50`000, monthly payment Rs. 1,000

She wanted to open a little grocery shop.

She also lost both of her children, ages 11 and 4 in the tsunami.











Kaman Thatjudeen, 20.07.1968


69 Main street, Hambantota


Credit:  Rs. 30`000, monthly payment R. 500


She wanted to sew Cap Hijaps (like the one she is wearing) and sell them.

She has a two year old son.










There are two of the women’s pictures missing.  These Muslim ladies would have agreed to have their picture taken without their veil, but that seemed unnecessary to us.

Thanks to Faye, who wrote down all the data from the women – we would still be busy with the proper spelling!  She and Humaid were again of tremendous help.

At first, we wanted to accompany the women to get the things that the program was funding, but that proved not to be practical.

All the women gathered at Zariya’s house and it was almost a ceremonious event to hand them their loan and also, a visible sign to them of taking over the responsibility for it.

It would be too much to publish all the applications and credit forms here, but they will be shown, if requested.


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