It’s a very special day for bride and groom, but getting there can be quite stressful, in particular for the bride’s family as they are the ones who usually will do most of the preparation and pay the bill. That’s why it was rather unusual for the New Ambadi Fair Trade committee to get an application for a wedding loan from the groom. They happily granted the request because of R. Vijayan’s exceptional circumstances and achievements. Vijayan grew up with his uncle and aunt, he was only a year old when his mother died, his father has been in psychiatric care for decades. Earning a living, being able to save a little money and planning for the future of the family he hopes to have – that’s been Vijayan’s aim for as long as he can remember. He’s bought a tiny plot of land which he has planted with rubber trees. In a few years he will be able to produce and sell some of his own rubber, supplementing the income he has from his job at New Ambadi. The wedding will be at the end of March, says Vijayan, standing in the freshly painted, spotlessly clean accommodation in New Ambadi he has just moved to. He’s met his future wife three times so far, the fourth will be on their wedding day. He hopes for two children, but that’s for the future. His bride knows how to sew and he’d be happy for her to run a small tailoring business from home. But what brings the biggest smile to Vijayan’s face is when he talks about coming home in future – when there will be someone to talk to over a shared meal.

Wherever you get hitched, a wedding is a big expense. That’s why the Fair Trade committee on the Sapumalkande rubber estate in Sri Lanka has decided to buy some of the equipment needed for weddings, other festive gatherings or funerals and make them available on a loan basis. For Rs. 750 per day (a little over 5 Euro) you get a sound system,  huge cooking pots start from Rs. 50 a day (35 Cents).. Other items on hire are large frying pans, large serving spoons, marquees and special banners needed for funerals. For all items the committee chose the best quality available, however the daily rate is about a quarter of the going market rate. As a family might easily have to cater for 300 – 500 wedding guests this service can amount to a large saving. And the little red envelopes with money the guests will hand over before they leave will go further to cover the cost of the wedding, leaving the bride’s parents with smiles of joy and relief.