“My father never called me ‘duwa’, he always called me ‘podi putha’’’

The theme of this year's International Women's Day which is celebrated today, is #PressforProgress. In light of a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity around the world, we met with a woman who echoes a similar sentiment and her life is a testament to this.  

“If we stay on the sidelines just because we are women, we will lose a great deal,”

-Jayanthi Fernando.

We visited her at her place of work which is the Kollupitiya Methodist Church and here’s what she had to say. Watch the video on www.life.lk for the full story!

“I was in a relationship with my husband before I married him. I married him although I knew he wasn’t a good person. To tell you the truth, we ran away. 

In three months I had many problems. I didn’t leave him despite this and I tried so much to bring him to a good place. 

I hated my life. When I was close to having the baby, he hit me so much. He has kept me on the railroad, thrown me into the ocean, hit me and hung me. He has done so many things that I will never forget. 

Since I got to know him before marriage, I loved him.

After I had the child, he troubled her as well. He didn’t work. He isn’t the worst; he could have done something but he didn’t have anyone to lend him a helping hand. 

At one point, I left him and came home. But he came and slowly broke the doors and ran away with the child, after I had slept. He took her away and he did a lot of wrong to her.

I took the child and went to work in the garment industry. He didn’t let me work there. He kept chasing after me. He never came to see the child or look after her. He only kept chasing after me to hurt me.

I decided I can’t live my life like this and I went abroad. My dad said that I wouldn’t be a good person if I left to another country. “You haven’t studied, you can’t go abroad.” 

I decided that I don’t need to study to go abroad. The child was only 5 at the time. I stayed in Singapore for 12 years. I didn’t know when I slept or when I woke up. I worked in a house for 12 years this way. 

The child also grew up. I took care of the child without any shortcomings. Not only did I look after the child, but I supported my 9 siblings. I encountered every hardship a man would.

No matter how much I did and for who I did it, good never returned to me.

I didn’t have my husband’s love or help.

He got married again. She had 5 children. He came behind me asking me for the money in my daughter’s account. I didn’t give the money but I treated those children like my own and bought them milk powder, dry rations, meat and fish endlessly. I treated them like my own.

My heart tells me that I am a man. I sold coconuts, wood and rice packets. I worked at the garment industry. I can do anything. This is because my father never called me “duwa” (daughter), he always called me “podi putha” (small son). 

I worked for 8 years in Cyprus. I took care of 2 patients. They were 95 and 90. When they slept for 3 hours, I worked in the paddy field and earned a lot. Even that old grandfather called me his son, not his daughter.

Since I had to fulfill my duty as a mother to my daughter, I got her married and handled everything. I have 9 siblings but I never went to any of them for help. Neither have I asked anything from any of my husband’s family members. I still don’t bother anyone. I have my inabilities, but I don’t show it to anyone.

Even now I come here to work at around 3:30 in the morning. I cook and put the food into shops and by 7:30, I start working at my 2-hour part-time job. After that, I have another part-time job. If there is a service here at church, I do my work after that. Sometimes I sell eggs. After that, I go home. I have to walk for half an hour to get home. By the time I go home and do all the work, I get to sleep at around 12/1 am.

If we stay on the sidelines just because we are women, we will lose a great deal. We need to know how to work like a man. When I see women begging on the road, I get very angry. I think “why can’t someone like you work?”. I wonder why they don’t have my strength. I feel bad sometimes. I know their lives aren’t the same as mine. I am so proud that I can carry on with my life like this. I ask God to give me more strength to carry on. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. 

What I want is to solve my problems and come to a successful position. To be able to smile and go on my last journey is my only wish.”


Video by: Theja Senanayake





  1. bert says:

    She is a role model for the younger generation. Thank you maam. God bless you.

  2. Bernard says:

    She should be a role model for that useless ex husband of hers. I wish her all the best.

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