Our Stories | Sri Lanka

Last updated: June 25, 2020

June 25, 2020

USAID’s Social Cohesion and Reconciliation activity (SCORE) helps rural communities to uplift lives, and advance social cohesion and reconciliation. Since the beginning of the pandemic in Sri Lanka, SCORE has responded to the needs of rural communities across the island. SCORE provided hospitals in some regions with essential items such as sewing and washing machines, personal protective equipment, and sanitizers. The project also refurbished an isolation unit for COVID-19 patients in a northern hospital. In addition, a SCORE-supported social media youth group shares reliable information from the Sri Lankan health authorities, providing accurate guidelines on COVID-19 prevention and countering misinformation among rural communities.

March 12, 2020

With less than $3, a passion for sewing, and a childhood dream, 44-year-old Rajika Priyangani from southern Sri Lanka embarked on a journey to earn a little extra money for her family. That was in 2000. Today, she is the owner of an ISO-certified apparel business called Hiru Fashion, producing more than 55,000 pieces per month for the domestic market and employing more than 175 from the local community.

In 2018, Rajika’s business was awarded third place at the National Productivity Awards, and in 2019 Rajika won the best entrepreneur award. Hiru Fashion also received international certification from Great Place to Work Institute™, a global authority on workplace culture. Rajika’s successful business, and the awards, are a huge achievement for a business that started from scratch.

August 17, 2018

In early 2018, Sri Lanka — an island nation off India’s southern tip — watched in anticipation as the results of the first local government elections since an historic mandate was approved the year before requiring 25 percent of locally-elected government officials be women.

The result: a changed political landscape with nearly 2,000 women elected to local council seats, taking an impressive 23 percent of local elected seats compared to the less than 2 percent of seats they held just a few years ago.

November 21, 2017

Forty-five-year-old P.W.R. Palipana’s dreams crumbled before his eyes just like the bicycle he was riding when a lorry collided with him on his way home from work in the central hills of Sri Lanka. A mason by profession and the sole breadwinner of a family of five, he agonized about his lost leg, livelihood and mobility. That was in 2007.

A mason by profession and the sole breadwinner of a family of five, he agonized about his lost leg, livelihood and mobility. That was in 2007. Ten years later his life is back on track, both professionally and personally, since he braved the steep climb to one of Sri Lanka’s tallest mountains without any assistance. “This shows that the artificial foot I am wearing is hard, durable and is able to cope with any distance and hard terrain. It is also far more flexible, lighter and comfortable than the pieces I used before,” says Palipana.

October 26, 2016

In 2009, 20 years after fleeing the conflict between Sri Lanka and the separatist Tamil Tigers, 59-year-old Subramaniam Yogadas and his family returned to his coastal village in the Eastern district of Trincomalee. They had been refugees in India and the end of the conflict allowed them to rejoin their few surviving relatives.

Amaranthé Bay, a small luxury hotel poised between a lagoon and the sea, offered a bright new beginning for him and his family of six, which includes a disabled child. Yogadas was the hotel’s first employee. Amaranthé Bay’s goal was to develop the property to offer employment and training opportunities to the conflict-affected and impoverished local community. For the majority of the hotel’s 70 staff, including war widows who resettled after the conflict, Amaranthé Bay offered a second chance to live.