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”.

Building Better and Stronger

Building Better and Stronger

In his 30 years as a Mason, it is only through the Homes not Houses Project that Thangavel is able to achieve his dream of building with appropriate technology and thereby saving the forests and rivers of his beloved motherland.  As part of the EU Project, Thangavel received international standard training in appropriate technology construction. He was trained in building homes using Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEB), and currently serves as the Master Trainer for all CSEB homes constructions. No river sand or brick kilns are used in the production of CSEBs, which makes it one of the most eco-friendly construction technologies available. Thangavel intends to promote this method of construction long after the project is over, as he feels it is the most environmentally friendly, cost effective and comfortable home that suits the warm climatic conditions of the Northern and Eastern Provinces.  The aesthetic look of the blocks needs no finishing on the walls and the welcome coolness inside homes reduces the use of the fans. “It’s almost like an air-conditioned home”, says Thangavel with great pride as he stands next to the recently opened CSEB Home in Puthukudiyiruppu in the Mullaitivu District.

 

A Mother’s Dream

A Mother’s Dream

Perinparasa takes care of a household with 7 vibrant members in it. She is a daily wage laborer and works regularly at nearly by paddy fields. Her husband is a fisherman and spends most of his time at the coast of Batticaloa looking for work to provide for their family.

Her eldest son works in Saudi Arabia and earns a salary of LKR. 25,000/- (approx USD 160), and sends his family in Batticaloa a portion of it to contribute to their living expenses.

Perinparsa commented that “a home is where a family can live happily together and feel safe no matter what problems happen in life”.

Her eldest daughter Shyalini (20 years old) is looking at new opportunities for work, and has applied for jobs at reputable local companies to widen her horizons so she can also help take care of her five younger siblings. She is excitedely waiting for a seccond interview with a globally renown garment factory in Batticaloa. Should she succed in securing a job, Shyalini would be the first woman to be employed and receive a stable income in her family.

This conventional home constructed through the “Homes not Houses” European Union funded project, has given a safe space for Perinparasa’s children to grow up in, and for them to create happy memories together, while having the necessary space and security to study and play.

Path to Stability

Path to Stability

Yogarani and her husband Sogkumar are parents to three sons; Kishan, Dinushka and Menaka. Sogkumar earns minimum wage by engaging in multiple jobs. He juggles between driving a school bus and taking ‘Tuk Tuk’ hires in order to support the family, while Yogarani works as an estate worker at Le Vallon Estate.

They previously lived in a line-room which was home to multiple families. This limited space was shared by nearly fifteen people and their life in the line-room was one full of challenges. The one bedroom space had very poor ventilation an no access to safe drinking water or electricity. The poor sanitation facilities caused their young children to fall ill on many occasions. The children studied under a single lamp light and the lack of space made it all the more difficult, with no privacy for the family.

Given their low-earning capabilities, Yogarani and Sogkumar knew they could never afford a home of their own until they were selected as beneficiaries of the Indian Housing Project.

Yogarani’s new Habitat Home will not only mean that her family will be living in a clean environment with access to electricity and water, but it will also provide her family privacy and the security they need. 

To me, a home is as valuable and impactful as a place of worship. The value of this home cannot be measured. It means so much to us.

Yogarani

Indian Housing Project, Kandy 2019