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Summary Report of Tsunami-related Building

February 7, 2005

For many tsunami victims, permanent housing is the top priority as they strive to return to a normal life. E. P. Sudath, a fisherman in Magalle whose family is living in a tent, told Habitat staffers, “I can get work, but I don’t want to leave my family until we have a house where they are safe.”

Rather than waiting for government land, Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka has started building with families like Sudath’s that own land meeting the government’s 100-meter setback requirements.

Galle District
Construction is under way in partnership with more than 50 families in five villages: Magalle, Kabalana, Thelwatta, Dadella and Katugoda. One hundred more families have requested assistance in rebuilding in Kabalana alone. Staff construction managers are inspecting foundations and scheduling labor and materials to ramp up building activities.

The number of houses under construction increases daily as foundations are cleared of rubble so that masons can begin work.

U.S. Embassy Work-day
Thirty American and Sri Lankan embassy staff members and U.S. Marines shoveled and sifted sand, stacked blocks and provided other labor at a Habitat work site in Magalle on Jan. 29. “They worked nonstop,” said affiliate coordinator Rajiv Lorensu Hewa. “Now we can quickly finish those ten houses.”

Batticaloa
Early reconstruction by Habitat for Humanity Batticaloa is focused on rebuilding on existing foundations facing a lagoon where they are not affected by coastal setback restrictions. Ten houses are under construction and nearing completion. In addition, foundations are being laid for a 25-house community on recently-donated land 5 kilometers from Batticaloa town and 2 ½ kilometers from the sea. Negotiations are under way for other land donations.

Since construction began, the affiliate has been deluged with applications for houses and now has 775 requests in hand. Before the tsunami there were 10 or 12 requests in a month.

The affiliate is increasing its production of concrete blocks, acquiring other materials and a tractor to move them, as well as marshalling volunteers. In outlying villages where the affiliate had organized savings groups to finance individual house building, group members are being sought and damage assessments are under way.

Batticaloa breaks ground for new houses
Just three weeks after the tsunami dashed her home to bits and claimed the life of her mother, 19-year-old Manimala placed the first stone in the foundation for a new house she will share with her father, a fisherman. It is the first of 25 houses to be built on land donated by a Batticaloa man.

Alahaya Mohan, who lost ten family members to the deadly waves, will live nearby. Mohan was a model member of a Habitat group that pooled their savings and helped each other build, said affiliate coordinator Justice Gregory. When the time came to build Mohan’s house, he insisted that another family’s be built first. “He needs our kindness; we will build his house now,” said Gregory.