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Dewmini Read by Geetha Murali

Dewmini grew up in a poor area of Sri Lanka where severe droughts made life very difficult. But by following her dream and planting one seed at a time, she has cultivated a farm and a new life for her family and community.

This podcast is a production of Rebel Girls. It’s based on the book series Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. This story was produced and directed by Joy Smith, with sound design and mixing by Reel audiobooks. It was written by Room to Read and edited by Abby Sher. Fact-checking by Joe Rhatigan. Narration by the CEO of Room to Read, Geetha Murali. Original theme music was composed and performed by Elettra Bargiacchi. Thank you to the whole Rebel Girls team who make this podcast possible. Stay rebel!

Transcript

Once upon a time there was a girl who dreamed of growing a magical garden. She would fill it with bright purple flowers, sweet lemon trees, and a babbling stream of singing fish. She’d plant each seed with love and hope, watching it sprout roots, stems, and leaves.

She’d make a place where everyone in her community could come to enjoy fresh vegetables or a cool, gentle breeze.

This girl didn’t just dream about her garden. She believed in it. And her name was Dewmini.

I’m Geetha Murali. And this is Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls.

A fairy tale podcast about the rebel women who inspire us.

On this episode, Dewmini, agriculturist, activist, and farmer.  

Dewmini was born in an area of Sri Lanka where severe droughts caused by climate change made life very difficult. She lived with her parents, her sister, and her nephew in a small brick house with only one bedroom. They had barely enough food for them all to eat, and sometimes there was not a drop of water to drink either. Dewmini often went to school without breakfast, her body aching with hunger.
One day, Dewmini’s father made a very tough decision. He told Dewmini that she would have to leave school and go work at a wealthy house in the city. This way, she could have more food to eat and earn some money for her family. 

Dewmini was confused and sad. She respected her father, but she really didn’t want to go live in the city. She needed to stay with her family and help them build a better life here. The question was, how?

That’s when Dewmini’s dream of a magical garden started to bloom. She’d always been fascinated by agriculture and loved learning about how to cultivate plants in school. Her teachers agreed that Dewmini would make a great farmer if that’s what she chose to do. 

Her family’s home was very small, but it was built on four acres of land — if she used even just some of that space to plant seeds, maybe she could make the garden of her dreams. She could stay home and help her family thrive at the same time!

Dewmini started with an eggplant seed. Then, she added some lemons. Next were the betel nut palms, and bright green okra. Dewmini gave them the best soil she could find and watered them carefully. Pretty soon, she saw tiny shoots springing up from the ground. Each day they got taller and sturdier. Dewmini was so excited, she begged her teacher to come and see what she had created.  

Her teacher was in awe. Her family was amazed. Dewmini’s garden was not just growing — it was flourishing! And fast! Dewmini was over the moon with pride.

As the lemons grew big and plump, they gave off a sweet citrusy smell. The okra and eggplant were soon ready for harvesting and cooking. Dewmini’s family was thrilled to be able to eat fresh foods that made them feel healthy and strong. Dewmini’s dad cleared more space on their land so they could expand the garden and grow more!

Then, Dewmini thought about how many people needed her vegetables beyond her family dinner table. She realized she could help her community and create some income by selling some of their harvest to her neighbors in the village! 

With the money she made, she bought more seeds and planted more fruits and vegetables. She also started saving so her family could build a new home. And she did all this at the age of thirteen!

Dewmini was shocked and thrilled when she won third place in a district-wide competition for the most bountiful garden in the district. “It was my happiest day,” she beamed. “I feel quite accomplished to do that at such a young age.” 

But that was just the beginning. Dewmini has big plans for the future. After getting her degree, she plans to turn her little town into a hub for agriculture, with bustling markets, classes to help farmers grow more crops, and lots and lots of jobs. She’s already lobbied her town’s leaders to begin building wells. 

Brave and confident, Dewmini wants to create a world where every person has food to eat, water to drink, and even a tree where they might be able to find some shade. 

And even if it sounds like a dream, she knows she can make it a reality.

This podcast is a production of Rebel Girls. It’s based on the book series Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.

This episode was narrated by ME, Dr. Geetha Murali, CEO of Room to Read, a nonprofit that helps girls like Dewmini learn the skills they need to stay in school and make key life decisions. Learn more about Room to Read and Dewmini at www.roomtoread.org.

This episode was produced and directed by Joy Smith, with sound design and mixing by Reel Audiobooks. It was written by Room to Read and edited by Abby Sher. The executive producers were Joy Smith and Jes Wolfe.

Original theme music was composed and performed by Elettra Bargiacchi.

A special thanks to the whole Rebel Girls team, who make this podcast possible!

Until next time, staaaay rebel!