I met Iresha 3 years ago when I first started helping with the Emerge Bead Programme. She has been one of the pioneers of our programme. She was always very consistent in her jewelry making and she has been very helpful to us during the workshops. Iresha, known as APIL, left the shelter a year ago and has continued to help Emerge Lanka Foundation by supporting the present participants in their jewelry making techniques when she has time to spare. Her daughter Navamani is 2.5 years now and speaks well and asks many questions. I was told that she loves to repeat the things her Ammi mother and Thaththi father say. Iresha says “she is my joy and hope and makes it all worthwhile.”
Iresha has contributed part of her savings for a 2 bed room/kitchen/living room extension of the house originally gifted by her father in law. This money she contributed to extend the house will be re-imbursed to them after the extension is finished, as she and her husband are involved in a housing project spearheaded by the Government. When she gets her money back she hopes to resave it for the future of her family.
She has also paid 50% of the cost of her family’s electricity connection from the monies earned from Emerge jewelry sales. Very soon, once the house is complete, she will pay the remaining balance to obtain electricity for her newly built house.
In speaking with her, she also mentioned that she is glad that she met Alia and Nirukshi miss and she is so grateful for the support Emerge has given her to earn the monies she has saved in her bank. She said it is a dream come true and this could never be achieved in her lifetime as her parents have cut her off from the family as they never accepted the man who fathered her baby. These are some of the questions I asked her about the programme:
Q. What do you think of the Emerge Programme? Iresha: “I learnt a lot of skills in the Programme. For example the techniques of making jewelry and choosing colours that matched and even designing my own piece. I also learnt how you make a budget before you go to the store to purchase beads and accessories to make a piece of jewelry. Thereafter I learnt how I would sell my product and receive a check to be deposited to my bank account and at the end of my stay at the shelter how much had been accumulated in my bank account.
I am also grateful how much effort is taken to fund raise to sell the jewelry which we the participants have made and the 50% which is saved for our future in our bank savings books.” Q. How has your life changed since you went home? Iresha: “I was used to getting up at 5 a.m. at the shelter and do all the chores like cooking, cleaning, washing and tending to my baby now I continue to carry on my life style the same way.“ Q. How has the Bead Programme changed your role as a mother? Iresha: “I learnt a lot of skills for example I know how to make a budget and go to the store and buy my groceries with monies I have. Most importantly the advice that was given to me by the Emerge staff and teachers I put into use in my everyday life when making decisions I have learnt that the many life skills talks arranged by the Emerge staff has in fact has changed my role as a mother.” Q. How has it been working with the Emerge staff? Iresha: “I am glad I met Alia miss and Nirukshi miss who helped me to save all this money and for the advice Nirukshi miss gave me which helped me making decisions at home. I also want to thank the other foreign staff for being friendly and warm and though language was a barrier somehow they understood us and it was pleasure working with them.”
Q. What do you most miss in the workshop? Iresha: “I miss my other friends at the shelter as we used to share experiences and work together as a team.” Q. Any advice to the girls who are in the same situation as you were? Iresha: “Your home and the shelter are two different places. We must learn to share, be helpful, kind and be respectful of each other and make the most of the situation. I have learnt your future can be different from your past.“