Life pinches them like new shoes !

Published : 12:02 am  November 13, 2018 | No comments so far |  | 


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Cobbler family beneath banyan tree forced into separation by poverty  

Having persisted working as a street-based cobbler for seven years, their family’s survival hangs by a thread. You may chance to spot the shoemaking couple by the Lipton Circus; seated by the side of the road on their rugged mat, their plastic bagged belongings beside them, eagerly waiting for someone to stop by in need of their services.   

Anusha, a mother of four, claims that on a good day they may earn a gratifying thousand rupees the most, adding that on most days they have to deal with a penniless reality.   

They weren’t always vagrant and destitute she says. Anusha recalls a time her family was able to afford the rent and live under the same roof owing to a steady income from their mango business. Following its failure, the children; two teenagers and the others aged seven and nine, now reside with an aunt in Thotalanga (Colombo 14) and are visited by their parents only once every few weeks. This arrangement was made with their children’s best interests at heart. The pair was adamant that financial disability should not obstruct their education and wellbeing. The oldest will in fact be sitting for (his) the Ordinary Level Examinations this year.   
The struggling parents face countless endeavours on a daily basis; their biggest challenge these days being the rain. The downpour not only ascertains a lack of clients, but also leaves them unsheltered, drenched and starved.   

Health issues   

Anusha recalls being chased away by security officials as she brought to light ‘a game of constant running, hiding and returning’ to their impermanent settlement underneath the Banyan tree.   

In addition to these challenges, they also battle health related problems like diabetes which inadvertently develop new expenses.   

Having witnessed her nimble fingers expertly take on various tasks of repairing, it was remarkable to hear that this craft was one they’d picked up by watching others at work. It was one they had to learn out of sheer desperation, but due to an obvious lack of business, a rise in the cost of living and a difficulty to restock needles, wax and other essentials, it is one they are struggling to continue with. While Anusha tends to their meagre mending work, her husband wanders the streets in search of odd jobs which fetches a few extra rupees.   

Although their dwellings, their garments and their lifestyles are evidently worn out and insipid, the adversaries named poverty and hardship find their resolve and faith to be invincible. The duo, who claim to be church-goers, have even assembled a humble altar of religious pictures on their worn out coir mat- a symbol of colourful hope amidst a dreary reality.   

 If their sympathetic tale, their admirable parental sacrifices and their unwavering faith aren’t enough conviction of their deserving condition, their one request will ensure it. When asked what they require most urgently, Anusha assured us that while hunger and thirst were bearable burdens, separation from their children was not. It is therefore a house that they desire the most, to reunite their family and to escape homelessness.   

Philanthropists are urged to aid them by any means to meet their genuine request. They may be contacted on 0753234404 or found at their usual spot near the United Motors showroom nestled under the shade of the Banyan tree.   

Pics by Damith Wickramasinghe