Selvam (59) is a Sri Lankan farmer and fisherman. He has six adult children of his own and is also the foster parent of a 14-year-old girl in CERI’s foster care program.
With just a few acres of land and a small amount of capital, Selvam started his farm at the age of 30. His enthusiastic and hard-working nature helped him to prosper in farming, add animal rearing to his venture, use his income to build himself a house near the coast, and from there to engage in fishing.
Unfortunately, despite his ambition and hard labor, Selvam has suffered several setbacks to his efforts. In the 1990s he lost his home, property, and 20 goats as a result of the harrowing Sri Lankan civil war. After rebuilding from one catastrophe, he was again dealt a blow by another—the tsunami of 2004. “Tsunami totally washed out my animals (40 goats and hens), vegetable farm, and dry fishes. My house was flattened. When I saw my destroyed farm, I almost lost my hope,” Selvam recounts.
Rather than give up, though, Selvam mustered the resolve to begin farming again, raising goats and cows. His business improved, and he was eventually able to save enough earnings to build two small houses, one for his daughter and another for himself.
Last year, Selvam incurred significant expenses associated with the marriages of his children. He spent his hard-earned savings to do what he could to ensure stable futures for them. Having proven his diligence and efficiency in his past self-employment ventures, CERI provided Selvam with a microenterprise loan of $100 in 2010. The loan gave him the extra motivation and confidence to once again build up his farming business, and he was able to fulfill the obligations of the loan.
Again, Selvam excelled, and again he was struck by disaster. The recent flooding in January of this year destroyed his crops and swept away his livestock. In this face of this disappointment, he was grateful that his life was spared and began rebuilding again. He started by selling dry fish to recover lost income. After the flood, Selvam requested a second, larger loan of $500 from CERI to further expand his farm. His resolve and refusal to give up inspire others in his village who lack the confidence to constantly pursue success. He is grateful to CERI for the opportunity to participate in the loan program and credits his earnest effort and confidence as driving forces behind his success.
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