Michel had a great assistant in Humaid. Together, they went through the files and the bank booklet: everything was in good order.
There had been two credits handed out from the pool and we contributed money for three more, among them the FOURTH for Sifany, the lady with the rice mill. Together with her son-in-law she is making a good living for the family.
The payment rate was still very high and Humaid had to admit that he had been completely mistaken: at the beginning of the project, he had not given it a chance!
In fact, the project was so successful that we were thinking of handing it completely over to Zariya.
It was not possible to visit all the women personally anyway and to be frank: the project took a lot of time from our meager holiday time. We intended to always follow the project and to stay in contact with some of the women. We also would give more financial support. Our future plans about the project were also only half-cocked – we would see.
We would definitely stay in contact with Chammi. Her credit had been the only one without payments over a period of two years. Good that it was an interest free credit and to visit her had been quite a shock.
We knew from her that after the birth of her daughter, she had given up her shop and worked at home for customers. We also knew that her grandmother and a blind aunt had moved into her house and together with a violent and drug addicted husband, it was quite a chaotic household.
We had asked Chammi to visit us at Zariya’s house to talk to her in private. This did not happen, as her husband was still in bed early in the afternoon and she was not able to get him up to greet us. We could see in an open room, the blind aunt in a bed and when Michel followed a kitten, he almost fell over the bedridden grandmother.
I had Roy instructed on what to say, and what to ask Chammi; and as he was only beating around the bush and always fell back into Singhalese, despite the fact that Chammi spoke very good English, I lost my patience.
WHY????????? Everyone in Hambantota knew that individual and she had to be aware that there already was a beaten up wife and a neglected little daughter!
First, she had not known; and then he had promised to change. He also did not beat her so often anymore ………… how lonely can one be to fall for a guy like that?
Her grandmother owned a paddy field that was leased out for 60`000 rupees a year (about 600 Swiss francs) and next to that Chammi was the only one generating an income. As a comparison: her husband was ordered by the court to pay 3,000 rupees a month to his other wife and daughter. The whole thing was a hopeless situation for all concerned.
It was obvious that she regretted her decision, in the meantime. When I asked her, whether she was aware that he would leave as soon she did not have anything anymore, there came a very frank “yes”.
This was exactly the reason, why she would not get any future financial help; also, not the money for a working visa in the Middle East for her husband. First of all, we could not be sure that he would go there with the money; and if he would, it would be most likely that he would get evicted rather fast, as they would not tolerate drug abuse. We also knew that he had been taken into custody after his last return as he had tried to smuggle a big number of mobile phones into the country.
When she told us that we did not have to worry about the money, as she would eventually be able to pay it back, I became very upset. We were not worried about the money for one second … but we had worried about her a hell of a lot. I emphasized to her that she always could go with her baby to Zariya for help.
We went shopping with her to provide her with all she needed for the baby and brought a substantial amount of groceries to her house. Besides that, we only had the advice for her to hit back the next time around! She would be much stronger than that skinny guy anyway and it was the first time in a long while that we heard her chuckle. At least, she told us in a very firm way that things would turn to the better for her in the future. For a moment, she was the old Chammi and we (almost) believed her.
Off topic: visiting the house of Humaid’s sister-in-law in Colombo, we met two, 6 and 9 year old brothers that she had accompanied to the dentist. She was supporting financially, the uncle of the boys at whose house they were living. Their two year old brother was with their mother in jail: she had poured gasoline over her sleeping husband and had set him on fire.