Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka launches ‘Brick by Brick Campaign’ to build homes for low-income families affected by COVID19

Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka launches ‘Brick by Brick Campaign’ to build homes for low-income families affected by COVID19

Habitat Sri Lanka marks National Housing Week by raising awareness on the need for affordable and adequate housing solutions for families affected by Covid-19.

The importance of a safe and decent place to call home has never been more pronounced than during the Covid-19 global health crisis. Across every sphere, from health to the economy, security to social protection, the impacts of Covid-19 have been felt hardest by low-income families, particularly daily-wage workers. The lack of safe housing, access to clean water and adequate sanitation facilities appears to be front and centre of the conversation with regards to equipping families to face the crisis. This National Housing Week, Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka highlights the need for affordable and adequate housing solutions for low-income families affected by the Covid-19 crisis in Sri Lanka.

Every day, more and more families find themselves in a struggle to keep a decent roof over their heads. Caught in punishing cycles of unpredictable rent increases, overcrowded conditions, or lack of access to land and affordable financing options, these families live with a constant burden of uncertainty, stress and fear. As revealed in the Housing Needs Assessment Survey of 2016, out of the 6 million families living in Sri Lanka, only 5.2 million families have some form of shelter. This alarming statistic highlights the fact that more than 800,000 families in Sri Lanka are currently in need of a safe and decent place to call home.

For low-income families who live in extremely poor conditions, living in homes that are already too small and overcrowded, social distancing and self-isolation directives seem impractical. Maintaining social distance is nearly impossible for low-income families who live in overcrowded spaces, because the only way they can afford rent or save money is for extended family to stay together. While handwashing is a crucial preventative measure to stop the spread of the virus, many low-income families do not have easy access to clean water or adequate sanitation facilities. Thus, now more than ever, families need the security and stability of a decent home that they can afford.

Since 1994, Habitat for Humanity has helped more than 27,000 families secure safe, affordable, and decent housing, build community, and forge a path toward greater stability. Now, in these challenging times, Habitat is confronting the national housing need through its first-of-its-kind ‘Brick by Brick Campaign’.

 

The Brick by Brick Campaign aims to raise awareness and support of Habitat’s work in order to help low-income families build a safe and secure place to call home in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Through this campaign, Habitat seeks to build homes for 100 low-income families affected by the pandemic.

Commenting on Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka’s new fundraising campaign, Yu Hwa Li, National Director of Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka said, “Funds raised through the Brick by Brick Campaign will allow us to support some of the most vulnerable low-income families affected by the pandemic. At Habitat we know that a safe, decent, affordable home is critical to a family forging a path out of poverty. When families have access to stable, quality affordable housing, they can become part of a diverse community, find and keep jobs, lead healthier lives and take better care of their children. At Habitat, we know that a ‘home’ is much more than just having a roof over one’s head, it is the hope and the possibility of a better life.”

Join the Brick by Brick Campaign by visiting  habitatsrilanka.org/campaigns/brick-by-brick/  

Donate towards this worthy cause and share your support by using #BrickByBrick on social media.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Saranapala, has been visually impaired since birth; however this has never stopped him from striving hard to build a better life for himself and his family. Saranapala and his wife Indrani live in Nayanalokagama with their Son, Daughter-in-law and three grandkids aged 14, 12 and 6.

Apart from their previous house being overcrowded they also faced a sanitary and hygiene issues. Their bathing and sanitation area was located outside of the house – which was challenging to access at night especially for Saranapala. Their previous toilet was a fragile temporary structure which was made with tarpaulin covers. There was minimal privacy and was not a lockable structure. The roof of their house was constantly leaking whenever it rained and they did not have adequate space to stay or keep their belongings safe.

Saranapala says, feels that being selected to receive a home through Habitat’s Homes for Hope Project, has been the turning point in his life. Moving into their new Habitat home has been an amazing experience for Saranapala and Indrani. His wife Indrani, was especially moved by the generous support of the volunteers who supported Habitat Sri Lanka through the Global Village program. “I wanted to work alongside them to show them how much I appreciated their kindness”

Their children contributed by providing their new home with brand new furniture – as a sign of sharing the joy of this new chapter in life. They are now able to live a life that is filled with contentment – and hope for better days. The burden of building a home is now off their shoulders; and together they are able to focus on living a fruitful and joyful life with the rest of their family.

I was depressed for many years, that there was just no way for me to provide my family a safe home. Now living in this new home I have become much more positive in my outlook on life. I am much happier than before, thank you Habitat.

Saranapala

Homes for Hope Project, Kalutara 2020

On Solid Ground

On Solid Ground

Rajappan Jagdeshwaran, his wife, and their son were displaced by the war for many years when in 2016 they were selected as beneficiaries of the ‘Homes not Houses Project’ funded by the European Union in Kilinochchi. He had the opportunity of attending community meetings that oriented the beneficiaries on this groundbreaking housing initiative which promoted the construction of homes using appropriate technology and locally sourced construction materials.

Having been selected as a family that would receive a model house constructed with Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEB), Jagdeshwaran had the opportunity to witness first hand the innovative technology used to construct his home. His model home has been open to the public on many occasions providing other families the opportunity to also experience the difference of a home built with appropriate technology as opposed to a home constructed with conventional cement blocks.

Today, Jagdeshwaran has become a champion of the CSEB appropriate technology, as he appreciates the many benefits of owning a home constructed with environmentally-friendly earth blocks. The construction of the home took only two months, with Jagdeshwaran working side-by-side with the masons and Technical Officers of Habitat for Humanity, participating actively in the design and construction of his own home. He is grateful to the European Union and Habitat for Humanity for giving him the hand-up he needed to rebuild his life after decades of displacement. He prides himself in being able to finally provide his family with a safe, stable and permanent place to call home.

Ours is a CSEB model house and only two months were taken to construct it. We have been living in this home for a year now and we have had no problems at all. CSEB homes are much cooler than traditional homes.  Especially in this warm weather during the day when we go out and come back inside, we feel the difference as we are able to breathe very comfortably.

We prefer the earth blocks as the technology behind it was clearly explained to us at the  Community Meetings. I took leave from my job and helped in the construction working alongside the masons and technical officers from Habitat. They were very responsive and assisted us promptly.

Jagdeshwaran

Homes not Houses -EU Project, 2019

Rising from the Ashes

Rising from the Ashes

Nadeeshani and Dayaratne and their three young children; Ravindu, Kiruli and Shanuli had just moved into their newly constructed home in Yatiyantota when the devastating Cyclone Roanu struck Sri Lanka in May 2016. Nadeeshani and her family were asked to evacuate and they were relocated in a nearby village school. This temporary shelter, became their home for nearly a year after the disaster struck.

“When Cyclone Roanu struck the island it was just another ordinary day except with very heavy rains”, Nadeeshani recounts. “We were soon asked to evacuate due to the risk of landslides, and we had mere minutes to get our families to safety. Had we hesitated even for a minute to grab any of our belongings, we would not have survived.

Once the rains settled, Nadeeshani and Dayaratne soon found out that their beloved home had been completely destroyed in the landslides and that the land was declared a Disaster Risk Zone, unsafe to be inhabited.

The Dayarante family lost all of the simple treasures they had worked so hard to acquire, especially their television and washing machine they had saved so long to purchase. The children lost all their school books and toys, and the family lost all their belongings. The land they owned was all Dayaratne had to leave as an inheritance for his children one day, and now that too was lost. Cramped up in the evacuation center with limited space, privacy, and poor sanitation facilities, Nadeeshani and Dayaratne found it difficult to imagine where they could even begin to pick up the pieces of their once happy life. They never imagined that they would ever have a place of their own to call home, ever again.

Months passed and they received no word from officials who had promised the victims of the disaster that they would receive new homes. “And then just like a miracle, we heard that Habitat for Humanity was going to help us build a new home”, Dayaratne recounts. The family had been selected as one of the 80 beneficiary families to receive a Habitat Home in the village of Sanhindiyagama, Yatiyantota, through the generous financial support extended by Alwaleed Philanthropies.

 

 

Even though their dreams had been shattered and their future seemed bleak, Nadeeshani had a hopeful smile as she says, “Life is always full of surprises… change is not always the end of the world. We knew that help would come. And Habitat for Humanity came in and helped us rebuild our lives”.

“We cannot express how truly thankful we are to receive this Habitat home”, says Nadeeshani, who stressed the importance of her daughters having a safe and decent place to call home, as they grow up. She is especially grateful for the privacy her daughter has in this safe new home which has lockable doors. The new home is also situated in close proximity to the bus route and the village school, which makes it easy for the children to travel to school.

What Dayaratne was unable to contribute in terms of construction materials or finances, he contributed through unskilled labour, as he is a skilled mason. He was grateful for the opportunity he had to be a part of the construction activities together with Habitat for Humanity’s Global Village Volunteers. Dayaratne commented, “I feel so proud knowing that I was able to contribute in a meaningful way towards the construction of our own home even if it was only with my two hands”.

Dayaratne says he now feels confident about the future, knowing that his family has a safe and decent place to live. Dayarathne who is a mason plans to expand the house with his savings in the future. When asked what ‘HOME’ meant to her, Nadeeshani replied, “As parents, to us, HOME is a safe and secure place for our children to grow-up in…. and Habitat has helped us ensure that we are able to give our children that kind of Home”.