Thangam & Vijayasundaram’s story: A cup of tea and new conversations in Sri Lanka

Thangam, Vijayasundaram, and their three children in Sri Lanka.
Thangam, Vijayasundaram, and their three children.

Vijayasundaram, at 42 years old, like many of his peers, used to drink during and after his work on a Sri Lankan tea estate. He would spend his earnings on alcohol, without budgeting for other needs or spending time at home with his family. However, all of that changed after Vijayasundaram participated in the MenCare fathers’ groups carried out by World Vision Lanka’s Nuwara Eliya Area Development Program (ADP).

As Vijayasundaram’s wife, Thangam, recalls, “He used to drink every day and we used to fight [with] each other. He didn’t care about the family or the children.” Thangam, who also works on the tea estate, is referring to the couple’s three children: 13-year-old Thushanthan, 9-year-old Sathurthika, and 1-year-old Roshan. She continues, “After participating in the MenCare program conducted by World Vision, he started to change his attitudes gradually. [Before] we had problems and arguments, but after the MenCare program, that has all stopped.

“He used to go out after work and come home late, but now he stays at home after work. I used to do the household work alone, but now he supports me in cooking and other household chores. When I am late [coming home] from [work in] the field, he prepares meals and washes the dishes and clothes. He takes care of the children. He stopped drinking alcohol and started saving Rs. 300 per child per month,” Thangam continues.

“When I come home from the field, sometimes he says, ‘You look tired, let me make a cup of tea for you.’ And he makes me a cup of tea. He used to disturb the children when they were studying, but now he asks me to help the children in their studies while he does other household chores,” she adds.

“We also used to fight at night, but not now. Now, we all sit together and have our dinner and talk. There was a belief that we should not talk when having meals. But we learned in the MenCare program that we should talk and listen to our children and to their ideas,” Thangam concludes.