Nadeeshani Sandanayake, 49 years old and a mother of two works at the Women Development Centre as one of the teams who are implementing the “Girls Inspire Project”. She was working in a Commercial Bank at the time of her marriage but was forced to give up her job and be a traditional wife taking care of the house hold activities after her marriage.
Nadeeshani completed the Advanced Level Examination in Science and holds a Diploma in English Language. Though she used her skills and knowledge in caring for her two children and carrying out household chores, she was mentally frustrated to be financially dependent on her husband. Like many other traditional house-wives, Nadeeshani felt disempowered and had no decision-making power within the family; she also faced many cruelties from her husband and his extended family members. Nadeeshani lived this life of suffering for 15 long years, because she gave priority to the safety, education and wellbeing of her two children. She remembers her past and said that many times she was tired of living, but instead of giving in to her feelings and emotions, she forced herself to face all suffering for the wellbeing of her two children. She said, “Though I had a reasonable education background, I felt like a prisoner in my own house; I felt like a domestic worker in my own house and I lived a very desperate life”.
One day in 2019, Nadeeshani, who was no longer prepared to put up with the difficult life she was leading, decided to go to the Women’s Development Centre (WDC), where she shared her problems and looked for employment. Nadeeshani was fortunate, as WDC gave her the opportunity to work as a team member in the Commonwealth of Learning’s (COL) – Girls Inspire project, which was designed for women like her.
She travels to very remote villages and communities and identifies women who have domestic and economic issues and facilitates their participation in the project. Her feelings towards her life changed thanks to her new employment: “I feel I am a new person, I am now more respected by my children and my husband than before, I meet women who have similar problems I had, some of their situations are even worse than mine. I am so pleased to give my time and services to them, it is much more satisfying than the financial gain I get from my job…”
Somedays Nadeeshani travels to distant locations, and sometimes she must stay overnight. Nadeeshani remembers that at the beginning her husband did not like her travelling to these distant locations and did her working on Saturdays. But she did not give up. “I share the stories of the women and girls I met at work with my two children on a daily basis, and my husband overhears these stories”. It is now 9 months since Nadeeshani has been working with the Girls Inspire project. “I can see a positive change in my husband now. Recently, he had cooked dinner when I got home late, this has never ever happened before. I cannot express in words how happy I am”.
Nadeeshani now has hope of a better tomorrow for her and her family!!