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

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.

A Promise Kept

A Promise Kept

The little rustic village of Vallipuanam in Mullaitivu, once ravaged by war, was abuzz with celebration as Rajeshwary boiled traditional milk in her new home in September 2019. Adaikan Rajeshwary’s eyes lit with joy and pride at the restoration of her family’s dignity. The transition from a tin hut to an eco-friendly home was a big milestone for her. Beaming with pride inside her new Habitat home, Rajeshwari said: “I am so happy that Habitat kept their promise and now I have a beautiful home not only for myself but for also my aged parents.”

The fully completed, environmentally-friendly, lockable house was home not only to her, but also her aged parents. As incense sticks were lit in prayer to the deities that blessed her, she also thanked Habitat for keeping their promise and reassuring her of safety, shelter and sustainability.

Rajeshwary is among the 2,325 families selected to benefit through the ‘Homes not Houses Project’ funded by the European Union, which seeks to provide war-affected families with permanent homes in the Districts of Batticaloa, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu.

A Place to Call Home

A Place to Call Home

Sivarasa is a hardworking man who takes care of not only his wife and 3 children, but also his parents. His father (78) and his mother (72) are excited to see their grandchildren grow up in a home that is theirs as a family, and take pride in the fact that they finally own a home, after being displaced during the years of the civil war.

The 7 of them are a very close and happy family, and Sivarasa’s wife Somasundari is most thankful for the safety that their home gives them all. Despite the impact and fear the civil war had on their life, she remarked how she and her husband persisted, and were grateful when they got the news that they would become homeowners through this project. They worked hard to earn and save to start this new chapter of their lives. She also mentioned how she feels blessed as a mother to know that no matter where her children go in life, they always have a stable place to come back to that is home to all of them.

Sivarasa explains; “this home is a ladder for my children to dream and do things we were not able to when we were their age”.

Defying The Odds

Defying The Odds

Ruby is a vibrant young lady who works at the CSEB Production Yard in Batticaloa in a supervisory capacity while simultaneously playing a role of a SME representative.

Ruby has been working at the yard for nearly 05 months and takes pride in being able to work in a predominantly male dominant field in her hometown. “This is my village” she very proudly commented when asked why she loved working the CSEB Yard in Batticaloa. Ruby also told us that the CSEB yards working population consisted mostly of women, and that this made her feel excited to keep coming to work and break the cycle of women being discouraged to be breadwinners in their families. Ruby exclaimed how keen she is to continue to learn more about the EU funded “Homes not Houses” project and keep contributing to it as much as she can, while encouraging the women around her to do so as well.