Travel Reports


Chammi was grateful for the bulk grocery shopping we had done for her. Shortly before our visit we received a disturbing sms from her. She had been in the hospital and sometimes her small family had to go without food. Her sewing machine was broken and with no money in the house to have it fixed, she had could not finish customers’ orders. For “only” Rs. 25,000, she could buy two used ones in good condition.

The full extent of the troubles she was in unfolded when we visited her.  After the return of her husband from an overseas job, things had gone from bad to worse. He was the one who had beaten Chammi and why she had been in the hospital……  Her Father, who had run a small shop in front of her house and had slept in a small room attached to it, had left.  He moved to be with another daughter in the hill country.  Also, her siblings had turned their back on her.

I asked her, “Isn’t this enough?”  Thank God that we heard from different sources that he was treating his daughter nicely.  He was there with us, with the small one cuddled up to him.  She told me that being that her family had left her that those problems were solved and she could now move on with her life with her husband and daughter.

Chammi in ihrem Laden

Die neuen Maschinen für Chammi















I burst out that the problem was not solved at all, and that it was sitting right over there and pointed at her husband. He started to grin and I lost control of my temper.  To beat his wife was not something to be proud of and definitely nothing to grin about. So far I always had ignored him and had not exchanged handshakes with him but I addressed him directly, right then. In the first place, we helped widows and Chammi had now been married to him for five years. On each of our visits we found his wife with less teeth and what kind of wimp was he that some strangers from a foreign country had to come to help his wife and child? Instead of giving her support, he had only made her life miserable.

Since their marriage Michel refused to put one Rupee into Chammi’s hands anymore and the money they had received the last couple of years had to come out of my pocket.  Money I had to work hard for. (I am so proud in situations like this to produce the palms of my hands showing two rows of calluses, that I most probably will never get rid of for the rest of my life.) 

After this I only talked to Chammi. I would give her the Rs. 25,000 for the two used machines and would stop in Tangalle on the way back to pay for them. This would be the ultimate help she could expect from me and I would not even care anymore whether she would get the machines or had planned some scam on me together with the seller, a distant relative of hers. It would also be none of my concern whether her useless husband would resell the machines in a few weeks time. I had done more than anybody could expect and it would be now her turn to come to a conclusion on how to deal with her responsibility for her daughter.

We told her that we will continue to visit Hambantota but we will stay away from her house as long as this man is around. She could contact us at any time but there would be nothing to expect from our side. 

It was a sad farewell.  



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