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”.

Rebuilding Hope

Rebuilding Hope

Chandani lives with her husband Dayananda, daughter Dinushika, and her son Gayan. Chandani also takes care of her mother, who is ill and unable to walk. Chandani and her family suffered the impact of the disaster that struck in May of 2016, losing their home to the landslides. They felt extremely fortunate when they learned that they will be getting a new home. The whole family looks at this home as a blessing, because it provides them a safe place to live. Dayananda and Gayan both work at a restaurant in Gampaha; and the women of the household live by themselves in their new home. Chandani says she “Feels safe in this community more than anything else”, as they feel that they’re part of a greater community because the other homeowners are so closeby and a majority are housewives who are at home during the day in case of any emergency. They have plans to gradually expand their new home with their hard work in the years to come.

Chandani cannot wipe the smile off of her face as she speaks about her new home.

“We never imagined that we would be able to rebuild our lives after we lost our home in the landslides. We are so grateful to Habitat for Humanity for their support and feel so blessed that my family finally has a safe and permanent place to call home”. – Chandani, Yatiyantota

Picking Up The Pieces

Picking Up The Pieces

Sunil (48) and Nilmini (35) lived in Aranayake, Kegalle with their daughter, Sumudu Sewandi (12), and their son Janaka Nethsara (1). They lived comfortably in their 3 bedroom house and lived happily with their two children. Sunil relied on the income his 1 ¼ acres of Tea plantation generated, and as the breadwinner in the family he diligently looked after his Tea cultivation. A year ago they had been blessed with a new addition to their family, a little baby boy – Janaka Nethsara and their little family seemed complete. Sunil and his wife never suspected that the Cyclone which struck Sri Lanka on May 15, 2016 would turn their world upside down..

“When Cyclone Roanu struck the island it was just another ordinary day except with very heavy rains”, Sunil 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.”

Sunil and his family were relocated in the aftermath of the landslides to a nearby village school. This temporary shelter became home many displaced people in the area with limited sanitation facilities, severe lack of space and privacy.

Once the rains settled, Sunil and many other villagers had wanted to go back to see what was remaining of their homes and to salvage whatever was left of their belongings. Nilmini and Sunil soon found out that part of their beloved home had been completely destroyed and that the remaining portion was unstable and unsafe to be inhabited and the surrounding area had been declared a disaster risk zone. Families that had plantations on those lands were not permitted even to travel daily to attend to the farming activities or to reap the harvest due to the risk of impending landslides. As a result Sunil lost his only source of income and the only asset he owned –his 1 ¼ acres of Tea plantation, the only inheritance he had hoped to pass onto his children someday.

His family lost all of their simple treasures they had worked so hard to acquire, especially their television and washing machine they had saved so long to purchase. The children no longer had any of their school books or toys and all that was left of their house was an empty shell where their family once lived happily.

Sunil was left with no other choice but to travel to Colombo (capital city of Sri Lanka) nearly 150km away in search of work, as he had to find a way to feed his family, and settle the many loans he had been compelled to take on. He was able to secure a job in a company as a laborer in the maintenance department. This job requires that he travels frequently to various parts of the country when he is assigned a task, which means more time away from his wife and children. However, Sunil still considers himself very fortunate when he recalls all of his neighbors and friends who not been so lucky, most has not merely lost their livelihoods and homes, but also lost their entire families in the disaster.

Months passed and they received no word from Government 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”, Sunil recounts. Sunil and his family had been selected as one of the 40 beneficiary families to receive a Habitat Home in the village of Kalugala in Aranayake, through the generous support extended to them by Alwaleed Philanthropies.

Even though their dreams had been shattered and their future seemed bleak, Sunil had a hopeful smile as he 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 Nilmini, while feeding her toddler. Nilmini stressed the importance of her daughter, Sumudu having a safe and decent place to call home, as she approaches adolescence. 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 Sumudu to travel to school.

What Sunil was unable to contribute in terms of construction materials or finances, he contributed through unskilled labour. 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. “I feel so proud knowing that I was able to contribute in a meaningful way to the construction of our home even if it was only with my two hands”, says Sunil proudly.

Their new 550 sq. ft. home has 2 bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen. Sunil and his family plan to move into the new house in June, 2017 and he is already planning on ways to improve the home in the future. Sunil plans to build an attached toilet, to ensure the safety of his daughter because the existing toilet is separate from the house and is situated a few meters away from the house. Sunil also hopes to save enough to soon be able to plaster the house and paint it.

Sunil says he now feels confident about the future, knowing that his family is safe, and more than anything else, he is deeply grateful that his family now has a safe and decent place to live in. When asked what ‘HOME’ meant to her, Nilmini replied with tears in her eyes, “To me, HOME is a safe and secure place for my children to grow-up in…. and Habitat has helped us ensure that we are  able to give our children that kind of Home”.