Habitat Sri Lanka hosted its 2 part Youth Rebuild 2019 in Nayanalokagama, Negombo as a part of the Habitat Young Leaders Build regional campaign with the generosity and sponsorship of Bloomberg. This initiative focused on the community around the existing Homes4Hope project which includes providing strength, stability and self-reliance to families who have individuals with visual impairment. Youth volunteers from Japan through the Global Village program together with local volunteers joined hands to paint and rejuvenate the livelihood centre of this community on 9th March. Revitalizing this livelihood space will provide the community with more income generation opportunities. As phase 2 of this event, youth GV volunteers got together to paint the neighboring school main hall on 12th March. The hall acts as a multipurpose space for student assemblies and primary classrooms because of limited facilities – and had not been colour-washed for years due to financial constraints. As a part of this event, Habitat Sri Lanka also conducted a WaSH training for over 200 students in that same freshly painted hall; and talked about Hygiene and Cleanliness. Watch this space for a video on our Youth Rebuild!
As part of the regional Habitat Young Leaders Build Campaign, Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka was proud to join hands with the dynamic delegates of the 25th Session of the Colombo Model United Nations from the 1st – 3rd March. Mr. Yu Hwa Li, Habitat Sri Lanka’s National Director, who was invited as the Chief Guest of COMUN 2019, addressed the assembly on ‘Reconstituting Global Perspectives’ and the importance of harnessing the power of youth towards becoming advocates of social change. He further elaborated on the global vision and mission of Habitat for Humanity and the impact of building strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter over the last 25 years in Sri Lanka. Habitat Sri Lanka also hosted a booth during the COMUN sessions enabling the young delegates to learn more about Habitat’s unique youth engagement programs and volunteer opportunities.
Special consideration has been paid to the needs of the beneficiary communities, especially in determining the design of the homes. Each fully completed Habitat Home will be approximately 580 sq.ft. in extent, complete with two bedrooms, a living room, verandah, kitchen, attached toilet including plastering and painting. Phase 1 of the housing project will be focused in Negombo, where families of persons with disabilities, particularly visually impaired persons will benefit through the construction of new homes and the repair of existing homes in poor conditions. Subsequently, Phase 2 of the initiative will focus on supporting families of persons with disabilities (as a result of illnesses such as Leprosy) and other special needs in Galle.
In celebration of the launch of this unique housing project Habitat Sri Lanka, brought together its National Board of Directors, their friends and family on January 15, 2019 for a special ‘Board Build’. This build enabled more than 60 volunteers to engage in construction activities by excavating and laying foundations for new homes being constructed in Nayanalokagama, Negombo.
More than 40 of these volunteers were Youth between the ages of 16-30 who joined this initiative as part of the Asia-Pacific Regional Campaign ‘Habitat Young Leaders Build’ which focuses on fostering youth volunteerism across the Asia-Pacific Region, by bringing together youth who share the same vision, mission and passion for creating safe and decent housing for families in need across Sri Lanka.
Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka celebrated the joy of Christmas by hosting its first Christmas fundraising event titled “Christmas with a Cause” on 15th and 16th December 2018 at the St. Paul the Apostle Church located on Kynsey road. Christmas with a Cause was a two-day weekend event that catered to the whole family; and was made lively by the participation of over 40 vendors who sold items that ranged from food to jewellery, shoes and clothing. Under the profit-sharing model many vendors also opted to donate a portion of their proceeds towards supporting Habitat’s vision and mission in Sri Lanka. While raising funds to support Habitat’s work across Sri Lanka, this event also provided the team an opportunity to raise awareness about its work in the country throughout the past 25 years.
The event was sponsored by the generosity of Main Sponsors such as Janashakthi Insurance PLC, Hatton National Bank PLC, Stafford International School, Heritage Teas. The event was also supported by brands such as Elephant House, Coca-Cola Beverages and Rosewall Interiors. The unique event provided an opportunity for Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka to partner with Embark by hosting multiple puppy-petting sessions which were much loved by the children who attended the event.
On the 16th of December, Habitat Sri Lanka also hosted it’s very first ‘Habitat Holiday Open-Mic Night’ at The Cauldron, Colombo 05, which was a sub-event of the ‘Christmas with a Cause’ initiative. This event provided a platform for many talented young artists to take the stage and perform songs of varying genres which talked about love, faith and hope. The objective of this event was to create awareness about Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka’s work in the country among the local youth who would like to join hands with Habitat in its future activities.
A home acts as a foundation to the life of a family in need, and equips each family member with strength, stability and self-reliance. Everyone who attended and supported “Christmas with a Cause” both directly and in-directly contributed towards uplifting the lives of families in need of decent shelter across Sri Lanka.
“Homes not Houses” project funded by the European Union at the Batticaloa International Trade Exhibition (BITE)
“Homes not Houses” project Funded by the European Union was a part of the Batticaloa International Trade Exhibition (BITE), which was held at the Shivanantha College Ground in Batticaloa from the 5th to 7th October 2018 which was attended by over 15,000 participants. This initiative was organized by the Lanka Exhibition & Conference Services (Pvt.) Ltd. (LECS), together with the Batticaloa District Farmer’s Organization. Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka and its implementing partner, World Vision Lanka were given the opportunity to exhibit project related materials and models to raise awareness on Appropriate Construction Technologies which are being currently practiced through the “Homes not Houses” project.
The various types of Compressed Stabilised Earth Blocks (full blocks, ¾ blocks, ½ blocks, U blocks and round blocks) were displayed for public viewing and a production demonstration of how the CSEB blocks are manufactured was conducted. Additionally, an awareness session was also conducted to educate the participating engineers, architects, technical officer, masons and/or individuals in the construction industry on the process, testing and benefits of using this technology.
Mr. Ludovic Ciechanowski, representing the Delegation of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Mr. Chandana Hewawasam, Program Manager of the European Union to Sri Lanka, Mr. Brian Grant, Chief of Party of Habitat for Humanity and several staff members of Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka and World Vision Lanka participated in the event.
As part of its commitment towards establishing meaningful partnerships with Corporates, Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka partnered with Hatton National Bank (HNB) to launch the ‘Drops of Life Project’ in March 2018. Targeting the improvement of water, sanitation and hygiene standards in the Batticaloa district, the ‘Drops of Life’ project aimed at providing marginalized communities with access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation facilities while promoting hygiene education. At a handover ceremony to mark the completion of the project held on July 11, nearly 50 families in Kattankuddy, Batticaloa were donated 1,000L water tanks providing these rural families with much needed drinking water storage facilities. Additionally, this partnership enabled Habitat Sri Lanka to construct 03 toilets for Ameer Ali Vidyalaya, a rural school in Batticaloa benefitting more than 150 primary students and teachers. This corporate partnership was launched as part of Habitat Sri Lanka’s ‘Partnerships with Purpose’ Campaign which seeks to engage more Corporates in the country to give back through various Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
Commenting on the significance of this new partnership with Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka, HNB Chief Operating Officer, Dilshan Rodrigo said: “HNB is a bank that prides itself on our ability to serve as a partner in progress to Sri Lankans from all walks of life, and in that regard, we are deeply satisfied to have partnered with an organization of the stature of Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka. The remarkable work that they have carried out as part of their mission to provide decent and secure homes for Sri Lanka’s often overlooked rural communities is strongly aligned both with our own mission to build a sustainable future for all Sri Lankans, and with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and we look forward to building on this invaluable relationship moving forward.”
Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka builds a brighter future with families in ‘Homes not Houses’ project funded by the European Union
COLOMBO, 14 June 2018 – For the 25 years that she is married, Ushathevi never had a permanent house. “My husband and I came from poor families but ours was a love marriage.” They used to live wherever they could find work as daily wage laborers. After being displaced by Sri Lanka’s civil war in 2006, they lived for over a decade in a temporary shelter given by a nongovernmental organization.
In 2017, Ushathevi, 43 and her husband, 47, marked their silver wedding anniversary by moving into a permanent home. Their house in Vilavettuvan village, Batticaloa province, eastern Sri Lanka, was completed on August 22, 2017. They moved in the next day that was considered an auspicious date.
Ushathevi and Thillainathan were the first to build their home with compressed stabilized earth blocks, an alternative construction material that is promoted under the “Homes not Houses” project. Funded by the European Union, the project is implemented by Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka and World Vision Sri Lanka. As of 31 May, 2018, 353 homes have been constructed and more than 1,836 homes are currently in different phases of construction in the eastern district of Batticaloa and the northern districts of Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu. The multi-year project includes the construction of conventional brick-and-mortar houses as well as homes that are built with alternative construction materials such as compressed stabilized earth blocks.
Thillainathan had applied to become a Habitat homeowner after he learned of the European Union-funded project. “I heard that Habitat is providing special blocks. My wife and I visited the yard and checked the blocks. After we saw that compressed stabilized earth blocks were stronger than fired bricks or cement sand blocks, we decided to build a house with CSEBs.”
At the block yard in Batticaloa, they saw demonstrations on the blocks’ strength and durability that were conducted by Habitat Sri Lanka and its partner organization World Vision Sri Lanka. Despite being immersed in water, the edges of the blocks remained intact and did not dissolve, said Thillainathan. He also observed that the blocks did not break when thrown on the ground. Later, he did the same strength test with the blocks that were brought to construction site for his house.
During the house construction, Thillainathan helped to mix mortar, sieve sand and move materials such as blocks, timber and tiles. Both he and his wife also cleaned up the build site.
Since moving in, Thillainathan estimated that they have received up to 1,000 visitors, many of whom are interested in building a home like theirs. “I told them that this is the best house for us. There is no need to expect more,” he said, adding that all the visitors have only good things to say about his house. Pointing out that the temperature is cool inside his home, Thillainathan said: “If they (the visitors) build a house like mine, they will also get the same benefits.”
Meanwhile, Ushathevi could still recall the days of living in a door-less temporary shelter. “Whenever there was heavy rain, I would put pieces of cloth all around to absorb the water that came in; I couldn’t sleep because I had to keep wringing the water out of the cloths.” Whenever the children had to do their homework, the family could not go to sleep because space was limited in the temporary shelter. Now that they have their own room, the children are also going to bed earlier, Thillainathan noted.
Their family used to relieve themselves in the bushes though they were afraid of being seen as well as being bitten by insects. With their own toilet next to the house, they have more privacy and safety. They get water that is piped in from their own well.
While the family has started a home-garden growing vegetables such as okra, eggplant and chilli, Ushathevi is planning for the future. In three to four years’ time, she wishes to paint the interior of the walls. “I will choose one color for the blocks and another color for the grooves. I will consult the painter about this.”
Thillainathan gave the reason for holding off the painting of the walls. “Until the Habitat-EU project is completed, people are still visiting our house. If we paint the walls, they can’t see the blocks. Now people are saying that the blocks look nice without being painted.”
Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Yu Hwa Li to the leadership role of National Director from February 2018.
Counting over 25 years of experience in the non-profit sector, Mr. Yu Hwa Li is an experienced NGO leader in international development and project management and brings a wealth of knowledge, innovation and enthusiasm to this new leadership role. Having received his early education at St. Thomas Preparatory School and the Central College Bandarawela, Mr. Li began his working career at the Bartleet Group of Companies in 1983. He joined World Vision, the global Christian Relief & Development organization in 1992; initially serving in the capacity of National Director, of World Vision Lanka and later as Regional Governance Advisor for Asia of World Vision International until 2008. Prior to joining Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka,
Mr. Li held the position of Senior Executive Manager, Caritas Sri Lanka – SEDEC, the National Secretariat for the Catholic National Commission for Justice, Peace & Human Development of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Sri Lanka from 2016.
A member of the Sri Lanka Institute of Directors (SLID) since 2002, Mr. Li has received extensive training in Corporate Governance through the Sri Lanka Institute of Directors, Chartered Institute of Management
Sri Lanka, the Commonwealth Association of Corporate Governance and Board Source, a US based organization specializing in nonprofit Board governance.
Mr. Li currently serves on multiple non-profit Boards including Lanka Evangelical Alliance & Development Services (LEADS), a national NGO; Lanka Financial Services for Under Served Settlements (LFSUS) a non-banking service provider for shelter initiated as a slum upgrading facility under the UN-HABITAT.
Furthering its mission to serve as a partner in progress to all Sri Lankans, Hatton National Bank’s Islamic Banking arm, HNB Al-Najah entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka (HFHSL) to launch the ‘Drops of Life Project’for the year of 2018.
Targeting the improvement of water, sanitation and hygiene standards in the Batticaloa district, ‘Drops of Life’ is a project aligned with UN Sustainable Development goals aimed at providing disadvantaged and marginalized communities with access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, leveraging on the extensive expertise of Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka.
Commenting on the significance of the new partnership with Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka, HNB Chief Operating Officer, Dilshan Rodrigo said: “HNB is a bank that prides itself on our ability to serve as a partner in progress to Sri Lankans from all walks of life and today’s agreement with Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka represents another vital milestone in this journey.”
“In that regard, we are deeply satisfied to have partnered with an organisation of the stature of Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka. The remarkable work that they have carried out as part of their mission to provide decent and secure homes for Sri Lanka’s often overlooked rural communities is strongly aligned both with our own mission to build a sustainable future for all Sri Lankans, and with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and we look forward to building on this invaluable relationship moving forward,” he noted.
The Project is intended to construct 03 latrines for a primary school named Ameer Ali Vidyalaya in Kattankudy and donate 50 water tanks – each with an individual capacity of 500 litres – for 50 low-income families residing in the Divisional Secretariat of Kattankudy in Batticaloa, for which HNB Al Najah will donate Rs. 1 million, while the company’s employees will also be volunteering their time and effort towards completion of this vital initiative.
Echoing Rodrigo’s sentiments, Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka National Director, Yu Hwa Li expressed his gratitude to HNB for its enthusiastic response to the Drops of Life Initiative. “At the outset, we wish to thank HNB and its Islamic Banking team for supporting us in this vital project. Habitat for Humanity has been operating in Sri Lanka for the past 23 years, and during this time we have been able to construct affordable housing for communities in the North and East, as well in flood prone regions in the Kalutara district utilizing funding from the European Union, and Indian Government, together with generous donations from corporate donors like HNB Al Najah”.
“Our approach is however somewhat unique in that we invite all who are willing to not only contribute their money but also their time towards building housing, water, and sanitation across Sri Lanka’s underserved communities. Today’s agreement to provide water, sanitation and hygiene solutions is a vitally important aspect of these projects and we are confident that today’s agreement with HNB will mark the start of and long a fruitful relationship”.
According to the most recent research conducted by UNICEF, 11% of Sri Lankans on average today still lack access to safe drinking water, while in rural communities, this figure averages as much as 35%. Similarly, 19% of Sri Lankan schools were found to lack safe water and adequate sanitation facilities while 1,299 schools were found to have no functional sanitation facilities whatsoever.
“While Sri Lanka continues to make remarkable progress in its development, there are still significant gaps that must be addressed in order to fulfil our duty towards our fellow citizens. Building adequate water, sanitation, education and housing facilities are perhaps some of the single most urgent areas in need of attention in order to drive meaningful quality of life improvements, particularly among rural communities”.
“In that regard, our team at HNB Al Najah is eager to contribute towards a solution for all. Together with our initiatives aimed at supporting entrepreneurship through the delivery of reliable and responsible Islamic banking products we are confident that our team working in concert with HNB and Habitat for Humanity can help uplift standards of living in the Batticaloa District, and across the island moving forward.” HNB Assistant General Manager Islamic Banking, Hisham Ally stated.
Established in 1994, Habitat Sri Lanka has enabled more than 24,600 low-income families to build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter. Habitat for Humanity partners with people in communities all over the world, to help them build or improve a place they can call home.
The HNB Islamic Banking is powered by the core banking system of HNB, which helps to maintain swift and customer friendly service delivery. Furthermore, the service is complete with Al Najah branded cheque books and savings books as well as premium banking facilities. Through Al Najah, customers can enjoy benefits such as internet and SMS banking facilities, international debit cards, and access to 460+ ATMs across the country. All of this is coupled with a dedicated service team to provide a personalised, efficient and friendly experience to all of its customers. (Press Release issued by HNB)