“Building your own house is a dream come true for anyone.”

21-year-old Dilhara is shattering the norm for young women in Sri Lanka. Youth employment in the country is worryingly low, with many young people struggling to gain the skills and qualifications they need to find work. For girls and young women it’s even more challenging with opportunities dropping considerably once they marry or have children.

For Dilhara, the opportunity to set her own course came after her father was cheated out of his savings by the builder who was employed to construct their home.

Plan International has been working in the Ampara district to empower girls to find decent employment or even set up their own businesses as entrepreneurs. After her father lost his savings, Dilhara joined our masonry training course.

Dilhara, 21, learning in masonry vocational training course

“My father, who is a driver, started building his dream home for our family with his savings. It was a step by step process. But he realised that the mason had cheated him, robbing him off his hard earned money when cracks began to appear on the newly constructed walls."

“I thought, I can correct the mistakes done to the building of our half-built house if I knew masonry skills.”

Dilhara’s parents were concerned that she would be working alongside men – she was the only girl among seven boys – but ultimately supported her to take part in the course.

Dilhara was determined to help her father rebuild their home. Now she knows all there is to know about the construction industry and, she has built her father’s dream home.

Dilhara, 21, constructs building after completing masonry training course

“I built my own house,” she says. “I can now even handle building a concrete slab for a two-storey building. All I needs is a good housing plan and I can get on with building whatever is called for, in next to no time.”   

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