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Villagers in Tsunami-affected Community Give Input on Houses

June 20, 2005

By Kathryn Reid

June 20, 2005

Villagers in Killai, a tsunami-affected community on the coast of Tamil Nadu state, are collaborating on the design of their replacement houses. On June 17, representatives of Habitat for Humanity, the Leprosy Mission and the architect, A C Rajan and Associates, visited Killai to discuss the plans with the community. Based on basic floor plans previously approved by the village leadership, architects had prepared detailed drawings and constructed a scale model of the 310-square foot house.

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Two women from the village
discuss the floor plans with a social
worker from The Leprosy Mission.

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Villagers examined a scale model
of the houses to be built in Killai.

In July, the villagers will see a master plan showing the placement of the school, health clinic, community center and market platform in relation to the housing.

On the day of the consultation, blueprints and a three-dimensional scale model of the house design were placed on a table under a thatch cover where men were preparing their nets for prawn fishing. A steady stream of villagers walked by to ask questions and make comments.

Anbazhagan, a village leader, said he had approved the design. “But if others have good ideas, we should hear them, too,” he said. Several said they would like to see the entrance hall enlarged and cupboards or shelves added.

One man said the kitchen should be converted to a smaller storage area, but the women had other ideas. “It is difficult to cook outside with the wind and blowing sand,” said Muniyamma. Her family has built a thatched extension onto their temporary house for cooking and storage. “If I had a kitchen inside, I would use it,” she said.

Of the 160 houses to be built in the community, Habitat for Humanity will construct 111. If the project continues on schedule, the houses will be completed before the end of 2005.

Another international non-governmental organization, the Leprosy Mission, is taking the lead in community organizing, developing women’s self-help groups and providing essential services and infrastructure.

Habitat for Humanity, an international non-governmental organization, is providing permanent housing for thousands of tsunami-affected families in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Since 1976 the ecumenical Christian housing ministry has partnered with nearly 200,000 families to provide them with simple, decent, affordable shelter. Habitat is at work in 100 countries.