Vocational training was the turning point in Imesha’s life
Imesha Madhumali lives in the town of Buttala in Sri Lanka. She was involved in a road traffic accident as a baby and since then she has not been able to walk. It was not until she reached adulthood that she received a wheelchair, which marked the start of a whole new life. If she had received it when she was younger and if her school had been more accessible, she could have continued going to school just like her friends.
During the four years she attended school, her mother had to carry her to and from school every day. When she was about to start Year five, she was forced to stop going to school because her classroom moved up to the second floor of the school building. Her mother didn’t have the strength to carry her up the stairs.
Imesha’s experience of school is shared by many other children living with mobility impairments all over the world.
– I missed going to school and seeing my friends, but my mother taught me at home to the best of her ability because she wanted me to be as independent as possible, recalls Imesha.
Imesha received a wheelchair
Then one day Imesha was visited by two women from SLFRD – Sri Lanka Foundation for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled. They got Imesha a wheelchair and for the first time in her life she was able to get around by herself and didn’t need to be carried by her mother any longer.
– The wheelchair meant I could move around freely at home, but I had almost no contact with the world outside my family, she explains.
Four years ago, Imesha got the chance to go on a sewing course.
– This training was the turning point in my life. After the course, I got an electric sewing machine from SLFRD and decided to start sewing doormats for sale, she says.
Long struggle for an education finally paid off
Imesha’s business idea succeeded. She now has a little shop in the large town of Buttala and works on production and sales with her mother, sister, sister-in-law and uncle.
Being able to go to school to learn reading, writing and arithmetic – thanks to her mother – was crucial to her prospects of training and finding work.
– Today I feel strong and I’m proud to be able to contribute to the household income. I no longer feel I’m a burden to my family, says Imesha.