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A climate change champion: Meet Dewmini from She Creates Change

March 01, 2024

Girls' Education Life Skills She Creates Change Sri Lanka

In an agricultural region of Sri Lanka devastated by drought and a struggling economy, Dewmini’s family often went hungry. Food was scarce and Dewmini's family struggled to maintain a steady income.

Instead of dropping out of school to support her family as a domestic worker in the city, Dewmini used what she learned in Room to Read's Girls’ Education Program to teach herself how to garden in drought conditions. She transformed her family’s future and now plans to help local farmers adapt to climate change.
 

 


Dewmini: A story about decision making


Dewmini was born in a historically low-income community of Sri Lanka where climate change-induced drought wreaks havoc on agricultural lands and on family incomes. When Dewmini entered secondary school, there was often no water to drink or food to eat. Some days, Dewmini's hunger was so severe she would faint at school. Desperate for a solution, Dewmini’s father decided Dewmini would need to move to the city to live in a wealthy home as a domestic worker.
 

"Nobody asked if I wanted to go," Dewmini recalled. "I wanted to finish my education and I wanted to stay with my family in the village. It was the most difficult moment of my life."

Returning from school one day, Dewmini found a wilted marigold on the side of the road. She poured the last drops of her water bottle on the plant. The next day, she saw that the flower had recovered, standing tall on the path.

Dewmini was energized by the discovery. As her family continued to plan for her move to the city, Dewmini dedicated herself to the study of agriculture, and to growing a family garden.

"At that time, even though I wanted to do home gardening, I didn't know how to actually do it," she said. "In our area, farmers face problems when cultivating. Because of climate change, when there is more than than necessary, plants start to rot. When there's no water and it's dry, then too plants die."

 

 

In the weeks and months that followed, Dewmini studied techniques for cultivating crops in a dry zone, and prepared the soil around her family home for planting. She started with eggplants and lemons. Then betel nuts and okra. Her teachers and parents were astonished by her determination.

It didn't take for the garden to produce such a bounty that Dewmini and her father were able to sell her vegetables to neighbors, then to shops in the village. The ongoing sales brought in enough income to meet the family's needs, and Dewmini's father was convinced that Dewmini could stay at home and continue her studies as she stewarded the garden — with his help. 

"Because of the life skills sessions," Dewmini reflected, "there was a big change in my life. I learned how to have empathy, hope, ambitions and goals. I also learned how to make right decisions and solve problems. And how to be aware of one's self."

 

Read DEWMINI'S story in the free She Creates Change book


Dewmini has since set a goal to work in Sri Lanka government, perhaps as an agriculture officer. She has already lobbied her town’s leaders to build wells. After she gets her degree, she says, she hopes to establish an agriculture hub for her community, where she can share her education with local farmers and help her community become more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

 

 

“I wanted to feed my family and my village with what I grow.” – DEWMINI

 

 



Dewmini is one of remarkable changemakers featured in Room to Read's
She Creates Change, the first nonprofit-led animation and live action film project to promote gender equality through the stories of young women around the world. The films, which feature the narratives of six courageous young women from historically low-income communities in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Vietnam, portray how each girl confronts challenges unique to her life — such as harassment, food scarcity or early marriage — by advocating for herself and her future.  

The She Creates Change film series aims to reach all 432 million adolescent girls globally with content and educational curriculum that supports them in creating change in their lives and their communities. 




Create change by donating $1 a day, or $30 a month, so that girls like Dewmini can develop decision-making skills and become climate change champions. 

 

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