Handessa in Kandy is a village inhabited by people who are accustomed to the rural lifestyle following their traditional ways of life. There are many people in this village who are engaged in various traditional occupations as their source of livelihood. Wasantha Kumari is a member of a family that follows such a traditional occupation.
The winnowing fan, which is gradually being removed from the kitchen today, has become a source of income for Wasantha’s family which helps maintain their lives. This is her story …
‘‘…I has been about 30 years since I have been living in my husband’s village after my marriage. My husband’s family traditionally makes winnowing fans. After coming to live with them, I joined their career, too. Now, this has become my job. We have to travel some distance to bring the raw materials, especially things like bamboo wood, that are needed for making winnowing fans. We need money to get permits to transport bamboo; we have to spend money on hiring vehicles, and we have to pay for the labor for loading the bamboo onto the vehicle. The bamboo that is brought in this manner has to be to cut, be torn into strips, and dried in the sun. It is after these basic preparations that the weaving of the winnowing fan begins. Women can’t tie the wood strips around this. It takes three or four days to complete a finished product like this. During that period we can make about twenty to twenty-five winnowing fans.
We need money to buy the raw materials we need and to pay for the laborers. We have been obtaining loans from HNB Finance for about ten years to find the money required for our production purposes. It has been HNB Finance that has always helped us to quickly obtain loans that suit our purpose according to our requirements. We have to travel to faraway places, particularly to areas such as Polonnaruwa, Hingurakgoda, and Ampara, to sell the winnowing fans we make using the loans we obtain. In urbanized areas such as Colombo, the winnowing fan has become a worthless object. However, we continue to engage in this occupation.‘‘
According to Wasantha, the market in the country for winnowing fans is rather uncertain. However, they are not ready to give up their traditional career. Therefore HNB Finance will continue to empower these traditional producers today and in the future as well providing them with the financial facilities and knowledge they need to pursue their career, and thereby uplifting their living standards.