Rebuild Sri Lanka Will See 24 Homes Built For Low-Income Families In Negombo
Gail Wootan (left) is one of the U.S. volunteers who helped to construct the test build house (right).
COLOMBO, 18 July 2012: With just over two weeks to go, Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka is gearing up for its first-ever blitz build.
About 150 international volunteers have signed up for Rebuild Sri Lanka from 5 to 11 August in Negombo in the west. The majority of the volunteers will come from New Zealand with the next biggest group from Japan. Volunteers from Australia, Great Britain and the United States make up the rest.
A test build was completed earlier in July with the help of a dozen volunteers from the United States. By replicating a five-day build ahead of the actual build, the volunteers helped HFH Sri Lanka streamline the construction process. More importantly, they are making a tangible difference in a family’s life.
Sandanam Rathnawathi, 68, and her son Thushanth, 31, worked alongside the U.S. volunteers to build their new house. Inspired by the volunteers, Thushanth wants to help his neighbors, especially the homeless, build decent homes.
Volunteer Gail Wootan, from Washington state in the U.S., said: “Everyone should do something like this, go to a country that’s unfamiliar and see people’s way of life. It would really help to deal with issues such as people not being able to respect each other.”
A total of 24 houses will be constructed during Rebuild Sri Lanka. Thirty-year-old Muniyandi Shanthi will be among the Habitat partner families building together with the volunteers.
Muniyandi Shanthi and her children moved into a self-constructed wooden shack because she could not afford a rental house.
Shanthi has to keep her family’s spirits up with both her husband and four-year-old daughter suffering from epilepsy. Her husband, KMF Suvendra, used to be a fisherman, earning on average US$110 per month. After being diagnosed with the condition, he is no longer able to fish. He now works at a local garment factory where he earns about US$3 per day. If he does not miss any days due to sickness, he can earn nearly US$80 per month.
Shanthi often worries about her husband and daughter and she is afraid to leave her husband at home with the children in case he has another epileptic attack. Medicine is considered a luxury item which she could not afford.
To save money, the family moved out of their rented one-room house into a wooden shack which they built themselves. Shanthi is looking forward to a permanent home in a safe and healthy environment. She said: “Because of my husband’s illness, we would never have been able to build a home if it were not for Habitat for Humanity.”
Since 1994, HFH Sri Lanka has helped more than 16,000 families to build decent homes. Habitat delivers its program in Sri Lanka through Habitat Resource Centers that support satellite centers and individual projects in four regions. HFH Sri Lanka helps families rebuild their homes following disasters such as after the floods of December 2010 and the 2004 Asian tsunami. Habitat also lends its expertise to people displaced by civil conflict who are returning to their home areas. In addition, HFH Sri Lanka trains families to use solar cookers as an environmentally-friendly alternative to using firewood and encourages the cultivation of home gardens to improve food security.