Paul is a father of two (ages 8 and 6) from Elgin Division of Ouvahkelle Estate where World Vision works at present. His mother also lives with them. Paul was a daily wage earner engaging in house-wiring, welding, masonry and partitioning work in houses and shops. He didn’t find work every day. Often it was only two to three days a week. His wife taught in a preschool.
With their meagre income they struggled to feed their family and meeting the educational needs of the children was even tougher.
Paul first heard about the Covid virus from the radio. "I learnt that it was powerful enough to bring death," he says "But that it could also be prevented by wearing masks, washing hands and avoiding crowding places."
But he realized the virus was too close to home when a child in a school that he was doing some work in contracted the virus.
"I began to worry for my children and for other children in the school," he says, "But we continuously prayed and followed the advice given on the radio."
During the lockdown Paul and his wife had no income. "But with the dry rations we received from World Vision and with the allowance given by the Government I could take care of my family," he says.
Paul had previously done some wiring and partitioning work for the World Vision office in Ambagamuwa and the Manager had noted his commitment to quality. He invited Paul to work on a sample handwashing unit.
"I had seen a unit outside a super market," he says, "After observing a few units, I shared this idea with my brother who drew a diagram according to my instructions."
With his experience as a mechanic many years back, he figured out the pedal mechanism. "I had to keep on trying to get it right," says Paul, "The first and second times were a bit difficult. Fixing the pedal spring and adjusting it to the water pipe was a challenge."
His children were fascinated by what their father was doing. They helped fix the water pipeline and outlet. Paul was thrilled with what he created and so was World Vision. He donated his first unit to his church.
The next 70 units, Paul completed all by himself for World Vision’s Response that was distributing the units among schools. As the orders increased, Paul hired a few people who were in need of work to support their families, to work with him. His house now turned into a busy workshop following all the health advisory
By the second large order, eight men who were struggling without work were hired by Paul.
"From being a person who had to go looking for work every day, I am now in a position where I can’t cope with the demand for my work," smiles Paul, "I feel I have progressed and am able to offer employment to others too."
"Life has changed for the better though the pandemic is playing havoc," he says, "I am looking for ways to improve my business and ensure continuous work."
With his income now stable, Paul has paid off all his debts. "My only dream is to see my children have a good education which I didn’t have," he says, "My son wants to become a pilot, and my daughter wants to become a teacher. I want to see them study well and achieve their dreams".
"I cannot repay what World Vision has done for me," says Paul, "But I will pay it forward through kindness and by providing opportunities for others so that they are also able to support their children."