Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka celebrates the successful handover of 98 homes for plantation workers of Hellbodde Estate, Nuwara Eliya sponsored by the Government of India

Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka celebrates the successful handover of 98 homes for plantation workers of Hellbodde Estate, Nuwara Eliya sponsored by the Government of India

On March 24th 2019, High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka, His Excellency Taranjit Singh Sandhu and Minister of Finance of Sri Lanka Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, ceremoniously handed over 98 homes built under the ‘Indian Housing Project’, to the families of the Hellbodde Estate in Nuwara Eliya. Gracing the festivities were Hon. Palani Thigambaram, Minister for Hill Country New Villages, Infrastructure and Community Development, Hon. Gayantha Karunathilake, Minister of Lands and Parliamentary Reforms, and Hon. Radhakrishnan, Minister of Special Area Development.

The Indian Housing Project, funded by the Government of India and launched under the auspices of the Ministry of Hill Country, New Villages and Infrastructure and Community Development, envisions the resettlement of at least 4,000 plantation worker families in newly created cluster villages or townships in the Central and Uva Provinces. As part of Phase 1 of the Indian Housing Project, Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka has successfully constructed 98 homes for plantation workers of Hellbodde Estate. An additional 267 homes are currently under construction by Habitat for Humanity in 05 other estates across the Central Province.

Speaking at the event, Indian High Commissioner Sandhu described the Indian Housing Project which contains a financial envelope of over US$ 350 million, as the largest single Indian grant assistance project in any country abroad. Minister Mangala Samaraweera, drawing attention to the close relations between India and Sri Lanka, described India as a true friend, always ready to assist Sri Lanka during emergencies and crisis situations. Given this special relationship between the two nations, the 98-house village was officially named ‘Bhagat Singh Puram’, after famous Indian freedom fighter and youth Icon – Bhagat Singh.

Coinciding with the official event, Mr. Yu Hwa Li, National Director of Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka, noted that the close collaboration between the Ministry of Hill Country New Villages, Infrastructure & Community Development, the Plantation Human Development Trust (PHDT), respective Regional Plantation Companies (RPC), Plantation Management, home-owner beneficiaries and the Estate Worker Housing Cooperative Societies (EWHCS) of Hellbodde played an integral role in the successful completion of ‘Bhagat Singh Puram’.

Comprising a minimum of 550 square feet, each new home consists of two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a toilet. The ownership of the housing program rests with the Estate Workers’ Housing Cooperative Societies (EWHCS) who with the participation of the home-owner families and local construction service providers are engaged in the construction of the homes. This unique participatory approach encourages homeowners to take ownership of the construction of their own homes, while Habitat for Humanity provides technical assistance, quality assurance & monitoring throughout the construction process, ensuring housing quality standards are met.              

Celebrating 25 years of operations in Sri Lanka, Habitat for Humanity has assisted more than 25,500 families by building homes, facilitating access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities for communities and assisting families to improve their shelter conditions.

Youth Rebuild 2019

Youth Rebuild 2019

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!

Habitat Sri Lanka engages youth with Colombo Model United Nations 2019

Habitat Sri Lanka engages youth with Colombo Model United Nations 2019

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.

Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka launches unique ‘Homes for Hope’ Project.

Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka launches unique ‘Homes for Hope’ Project.

Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka embarked on its 25th year of operations in the country, by breaking ground on its latest housing project titled ‘Homes for Hope’ which seeks to provide housing solutions for nearly 60 marginalized families in Negombo and Galle. Funded by an inspirational local donor family in memory of their loving parents, late Dr. & Mrs. J.H.F. Jayasuriya (Founder Chairman, Ceylon National Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis). This unique housing project which is estimated to be completed at the end of 2019, is unlike any Habitat Sri Lanka has embarked on before, as it concentrates on providing safe and decent housing solutions for persons with disabilities; an often marginalized, vulnerable and overlooked group in our community.

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 Sri Lanka celebrated raising joy and funds through “Christmas with a Cause” Fundraiser

Habitat Sri Lanka celebrated raising joy and funds through “Christmas with a Cause” Fundraiser

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 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.

Hatton National Bank (HNB) – Drops of Life – CSR Water and Sanitation Project

Hatton National Bank (HNB) – Drops of Life – CSR Water and Sanitation Project

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

Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka builds a brighter future with families in ‘Homes not Houses’ project funded by the European Union

"Thillainathan

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.

Local community members visiting the home of Thillainathan and Ushathevi. Photo: Habitat for Humanity/Jim Kendall.

People from the local community checking out the newly completed house of Thillainathan and Ushathevi. Photo: Habitat for Humanity/Jim Kendall.

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.

Thillainathan and Ushathevi inside their house made of compressed stabilized earth blocks. Photo: Habitat for Humanity/Nihan.

Thillainathan and Ushathevi inside their house made of compressed stabilized earth blocks. Photo: Habitat for Humanity/Nihan.

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.”

Kalutara Housing Project – Handing-over Ceremony

Kalutara Housing Project – Handing-over Ceremony

Habitat Sri Lanka celebrated the completion of the Kalutara Housing Project yesterday, 25th April 2018 among the company and generosity of the donors and 37 homeowner families. The project was aimed to provide improved and decent housing to low-income families in the Diyalagoda and Vincentiyanugama areas in Kalutara. This project has provided 162 individuals and 70 children a safe and decent place to call home. We are truly grateful to the community, donors, volunteers and all individuals who have worked tirelessly to make this project a success.
Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka welcomes Yu Hwa Li as National Director

Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka welcomes Yu Hwa Li as National Director

Yu Hwa LiHabitat 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.