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Sarojini’s story of regaining her independence following bereavement

Read about how we supported Sarojini and her family to get their independence back, after she was left with no source of income following her husband’s death.

But worst of all, was the impact my situation was having on my two children. I was now reliant upon them to take care of me financially and medically. They had to put their lives on pause to tend to my own.

A photograph of Muthukuda (Sarojini) Goonetilleke, a Foothold community member who applied for financial support. Sarojini is looking towards the camera. The photo is is surrounded by a branded teal circle.Hi, my name is Sarojini and I live in Sri Lanka.

I’m not an engineer myself, but my late husband was an electrical engineer here all his life and served my country in that role for 40 years. I fact, he was already a member of the IET before we got married, having joined the organisation in 1970!

Whilst my husband worked, I managed the household, as is customary here in Sri Lanka. We managed well for many years, raising two wonderful children to adulthood who are now building families of their own.

However, things started to get difficult when my husband suddenly passed away of a heart attack, in 2015.

Becoming a burden

Because I did not work, I had been financially dependent on my husband’s income up until his death. This all came to a halt on his passing, and as a widow I was no longer entitled to any financial support at all.

Without any regular income, I completely lost my independence. I couldn’t even access his pension to help me continue to afford to live, and didn’t have one of my own as state support in my country is very limited.

I also had medical needs too, and my lack of income now made it practically impossible to get the treatment I needed to stay well.

But worst of all, was the impact my situation was having on my two children. I was now reliant upon them to take care of me financially and medically. They had to put their lives on pause to tend to my own.

My daughter, who was a single parent, had to quit her studies and couldn’t devote as much time to supporting my grandson’s own education either. And my son had to take time away from his own family to care for me too. Before long, trying to balance looking after me and bringing up their own children really started to take its toll. I had become a burden on them.

I felt so guilty and frustrated that I had gone from living a contended, independent life with my husband, to needing round-the-clock support from my children, with seemingly no way of making a living on my own – against a national economic backdrop where the cost of living already made it difficult to make ends meet.

It was a really bleak time for us.

Getting my life back together

After my husband’s passing, my son had written a letter to the IET informing them of his death. Soon after, we received an email from Foothold, who had heard about my situation and had got in touch to offer support.

It turned out, because of my association to the IET through my husband’s ex-membership, I was entitled to financial support from the charity to help my situation. I couldn’t believe it.

Up to this point I hadn’t even realised that Foothold existed, but they quickly made a significant mark on my family. They were so understanding and empathetic about the problems we were facing.

Our caseworkers were really helpful and supportive, which made the process that much easier for my son and daughter, who were managing it on my behalf due to the language barrier.

There were a lot of documents to send across and plenty of paperwork to sign, but it was all worth it. Within about six months, I received the first payment. From then on, things started to get a little brighter.

I was due to have an operation as well, and could afford neither the cost of going private, or the alternative long waiting list. But Foothold were gracious enough to support us with the medical cost too.

This meant I could have my operation when I needed it to help me get better quicker. They’ve kindly supported me with medical costs for my care needs ever since.

Regaining our independence as a family

Foothold definitely helped me feel supported in all aspects of my life. Their generous support has not only helped me get back my independence, but they helped my son and daughter regain theirs too.

They have been able to get back to their own lives, giving all their attention to looking after themselves and raising my grandchildren. My daughter has also been able to resume her studies to help her build a successful career.

“Because I can now take care of my own food, transport, health and other important areas of my life, I’m no longer a burden on my family, which is a wonderful feeling. I am back to living a happy, contended life again.”

I have no idea what we would have done without Foothold’s support. I hope that more people learn about the work Foothold does to help people like me, so that the charity can help even more members of the engineering community to overcome whatever challenges they might be going through.

Many people feel embarrassed, anxious, or guilty about asking for support, especially regarding money. But my message is: reach for the opportunity, because it will make a huge difference in your life.

Just like it did mine.

Lots of things can affect our financial security, such as bereavement, redundancy and health problems. If you’ve experienced a challenging event which has left you struggling financially, get in touch with us today.


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