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First German-Funded Homes For Tsunami Families Dedicated In Sri Lanka

Generous BASF Employees Help 196 Families In East Coast Community

THIRUKKOVIL, 15th February 2005: Almost half the houses in a major tsunami-rebuilding project backed by German chemicals giant BASF have been dedicated in a colorful celebration.

Co-operation: Ampara district secretary Hereth Abeweera cuts the ribbon with new homeowner Chuthra and her children.

German support: BASF managing director Amal Perera and Justus Gregory, Habitat project manager for Mandanai, with a monument recognizing BASF sponsorship


Rebuilding lives: A. Arulanatham, 34, wife Chuthra, 27, and two of their three children stand beside their new house in Mandanai, a tsunami relocation community on the east coast of Sri Lanka

Representatives of Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka and BASF last week joined tsunami-affected families to dedicate the first 96 of 196 houses Habitat is building in Mandanai near Thirukkovil on the east coast of Sri Lanka. Seventy-one houses are under construction for phase two of the project.

The Mandanai project is part of Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka plans to build more than 1,300 houses for tsunami-affected families before the end of 2006. Building is being implemented from operations centers in Galle, Batticaloa and Trincomalee, with project management from a disaster response office in Colombo.

“We wish you a good life, a good future,” Amal Perera, BASF managing director for Sri Lanka, told the new homeowners at the dedication ceremony. He said the success of the project was in not only providing houses to tsunami survivors, but in doing so in a way that is sustainable, both environmentally and socially.

“Our partnership with Habitat for Humanity is one of mutual understanding and co-operation,” Perera said. “Without the expertise and passion of Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka, the success we are celebrating could not have been achieved.”  BASF and its employees worldwide contributed 3.8 million Euros (US$ 4.5 million) to tsunami relief and recovery, Perera said.

“Last May when I first came to this place, it was a barren piece of land, now it has the beginning of a real community,” said Rick Hathaway, regional program director for Habitat for Humanity Asia-Pacific. He thanked the Ampara district government, which donated the land; Sri Lankan-based BASF Finlay Group for funding house construction and World Concern, an international non-governmental organization, which built a water tank and plans to sponsor livelihood development programs in the community.

After the tsunami, new homeowners V. Ravichandran, 31, and his wife R. Lugumi, 29, lived in a temporary house on land owned by a relative. They have anxiously looked forward to moving their two children into a home of their own, she said. Like many other homeowners, they were unable to rebuild on the land they occupied before because it fell within the government-defined coastal buffer zone.

New homeowners A. Arulanatham, 34, and his wife Chuthra, 27, most recently shared a single small room in a barracks-style shelter with their three children, ages four, nine and 11. Moving into their new house is a major step toward rebuilding their life, he says.