Families in Need of Urgent Support
Dinithi (29) and Dushantha (35), the young parents of Oshani (8) and Oveesha (4 months) greet us on the porch of their rented, partially constructed one-room they call home.
Dinithi tells us that many years ago, Dushantha purchased a small plot of land in the nearby village with the hopes of constructing a home of their own one day. However due to severe financial constraints, they have been unable to save enough to construct a home of their own. They currently live in a small one-bedroom shelter which is on a land that belongs to a family friend. In return for looking after the property, Dinithi and her family have been allowed to live in the partially constructed room for a nominal rent.
“We never imagined that our children would have to grow up in worse circumstances than we did. All we ever wanted to give them was a safe place to call home and an opportunity to do something good with their lives. Today, we are struggling to feed them even one meal a day. We can only dream of being able to provide them with a home of their own.”Dinithi Perera
A Ladder to a Better Future
“Every day is a constant battle to keep going. A home of our own seems like a distant dream. My entire married life has been spent in this little hut, my children have not known any other home. My dream is to be able to provide a home that is safe and secure for my children, without having to move from place to place every night.”Irangani
Irangani (42) and her family of five, live in a small tin hut which only has space to accommodate five plastic chairs and a small wooden stove. Irangani and her family spend the day in the hut and go to her mother’s house many meters away, just to sleep at night. The family has been following this routine for the past 23 years due to the inadequate space and lack of security of their current temporary shelter.
Irangani’s husband Nimalasiri (48) is a daily-wage labourer who earns only LKR 22,000 a month – that too depends entirely on whether he is able to secure work that month. Together they have a young daughter, Dinudi (11) and two sons, Sarath (26) and Chamira (21), who also work as daily-wage labourers, hoping to supplement their father’s income.
Hoping for a Safe Haven
Fighting to Survive
Shantha (42) and Niluka (35), were high school sweethearts, who have now been married for 18 years. As youth they dreamed of beginning a happy life together and starting a family of their own, in a home of their own. They never imagined that life would take them along an unchartered course of hardships.
Today, Shantha and Neluka live in a one-room wooden shack with their two teenage daughters, in Kadirana, Negombo. Their current home which is only 180 sq.ft (16 sq. meters), is built with wooden planks that have now begun to decay over time, due to dampness and heat.
“I have tried for so many years to build a safe home for my two daughters and my wife. Being a mason and not being able to complete this house for my family has always been something that has worried me. Waking up each day and seeing what could have been our house, is a daily reminder of how I have failed them. My dream is to build a home where my girls will have a room of their own to study in peace.”Shantha Jude Perera
“It has always been my dream to provide a stable home for my children. A home is not just a house with four walls, it is so much more. My dream is to someday be able to provide Kishan with the stability he deserves and a chance to begin a new chapter in our lives.”Christopher Rathnasekara
Kishan (33), is the first born of Christopher and Padmawathi (60) living in Kadirana, Katana. Kishan started showing signs of weakening mental stability and cognitive development when he was just 07 years old. His family believes that he lost his ability to speak after a traumatic experience when children in the neighborhood scared him with firecrackers, while he was playing alone.
Christopher, the owner of a flourishing delivery business at the time and proprietor of multiple lands and a vehicle of their own sold off all of their assets in the hopes of providing Kishan with the best medical attention possible to help him return to normalcy, to no avail.
Searching for a New Chapter
Meghamala (47) is a single mother living in Katana, caring for both her aged mother Agnes (82) and her granddaughter Oshadi (7). While she has two sons, her eldest son (Oshadi’s father) works as a daily-wage labourer and contributes little towards Oshadi’s well-being and daily needs. Meghamala’s husband who was the sole breadwinner of the family throughout their 20-year marriage, left her and the children destitute when he abandoned her. Without a place of their own to call home, Meghamala and the children were forced to move into a rented one-bedroom space, and have been living there for many years. Although she has inherited a plot of land, she lacks much-needed funds to build a home.
“Each month, we’re at the mercy of our landlord, unsure if we will be evicted if we’re unable to cover the cost of the rent. All I have ever wanted to was to know that my family will one day have a place of our own to call home. A new home would mean the world to us… it would give us breathing space.”Meghamala
“Our only wish is to see that our two girls will have a safe and permanent place to call home. We never know when we will be asked to leave the estate where we currently stay. This feeling of instability is what keeps us up at night. It would be a dream come true to finally have a place to go to sleep at night, knowing that it is a place of our own.”Rohan Priyantha
Rohan was a happy-go-lucky young boy who dreamed of a future in the big city one day. Tragically, he met with a life-altering accident when he was a teenager and lost his right foot as a result. RohanApart from having to adjust to a future with a life-long impairment, Rohan also had to give up on his dreams of leaving the village and travelling to Colombo in search of a job. Rohan was often overlooked when job opportunities arose, because of his disability. Even though he was faced with insurmountable obstacles, Rohan never let it disillusion him.
In Search of Permanence
Praying for a Miracle
Ruwan and Priyadarshani live in Katana with their three sons. They also support Ruwan’s elderly mother. Being the sole breadwinner of the family, Ruwan works hard as a manual boiler operator at a reputed hotel in the tourist hub of Negombo. However, all his efforts earn him a monthly income of only LKR 24,000, which is hardly sufficient to cover the expenses of his family.
His wife Priyadarshani, is unable to work as she is the primary caregiver for their son Sithum (17) who suffers from Cerebral Palsy. Having being born with congenital brain defects has left Sithum dependent on the support of his family all his life.
“A new home would mean stability for our boys. It would mean that even though we may not always have enough to eat, we will always have a roof over our heads. My boys will finally have a safe place to call home. Most importantly, it would mean that my wife and I can rest easy knowing that Sithum will always have a place to live in for the rest of his days.”Ruwan Dhanushka