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11 years after Tsunami: Long road to recovery

25 December 2015 06:33 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The Boxing Day tsunami that hit Sri Lanka and many other countries bordering the Sumatra island, was one of the deadliest disasters that went down in history. Thousands of lives were washed away irrespective of colour, race, gender, age or religion. Mass burial sites, records of disappeared people and shattered shelters added to the trauma of the survivors who were more than just helpless. Eleven years have passed and many efforts to support these survivors to recover from the trauma have been successful, despite various challenges and obstacles. Within a few years, the families were given shelter by various charities and NGOs, that also supported to develop their livelihoods. In an attempt to find out about their progress over the last 11 years, the Daily Mirror visited a few housing schemes, which were built in aid of tsunami victims in Galle, Moratuwa, Lunawa and Ratmalana.


Certificate issued to replace a deed

 

Caritas SED Galle

Numerous charities, NGOs and government bodies got together to not only give shelter to the displaced but also introduce ways of keeping them occupied and give them a hand in making a living.
Caritas SED Galle, the Caritas Diocesan Centre for the Southern province works in collaboration with Caritas Sri Lanka. It is registered as a charitable organisation working under the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Sri Lanka and is involved mainly in tsunami rehabilitation projects.
With the support of Caritas International, Caritas SED Galle has been instrumental in initiating a programme to cater to the physical and psychological needs of the victims. Some of its significant components include temporary and permanent housing, rehabilitation and reconstruction of community infrastructure, education, water and sanitation facilities and livelihood recovery support.
While, speaking to a few individuals who are currently residing in these houses, the Daily Mirror learned that many owners have shifted, renting out these houses to outsiders and making it a business altogether.  Some residents had this to say;

The issue of deeds

Although many families were given houses, some still don’t have the title deeds to prove that they were given a permanent or temporary residence by these organisations. When speaking to a few residents in another housing scheme in Galle, the Daily Mirror learned that many of them were facing similar issues.
Here are some comments from them;



 

The Red Cross  (SLRC) and others

From Galle, the Daily Mirror then visited the housing schemes in Moratuwa, Lunawa and Ratmalana. Here the situation was different. The families had received a certificate to prove that they were residing in their particular house but the living conditions were quite unsatisfactory. Some residents shared the following with us:

 
“This house was initially given to my brother because it was his family which got affected by the tsunami. However, he shifted to the town and gave this house to my family. Now he runs a furniture shop and is doing well’’

- Sepalika Wijesinghe (Galle)

“We were displaced for two and a half months. We stayed in camps and those people took very good care of us. The churches got very much involved in setting up these shelters for us. I think we are very much safer now.”

- B.P Lionel (Galle)

“We were given tents after about two months following the disaster, during which we lived here and there. For nearly 2 years we were displaced and therefore lived in tents. Now that 11 years have passed we have started to live like before, thanks to the many organisations who got involved with us. Only ten houses around here have proper title deeds. Many of them haven’t, and I hope that the issue will be resolved soon. Many workshops were done by the Disaster Management Centre, which we attended. But because we have faced the crisis, we know what to do. We rely on the warning alarm that they say that would be given if a tsunami occurs again.”

- T. Piyalatha (Galle)

“I used to live closer to the shore but after the wave struck we were moved inland. We were displaced for nearly two years and were living in tents. Later on we got this house and there are approximately 100 odd houses in this scheme. Around 30-35 families have deeds but we are not included in that group. Likewise more than 50 families still do not have deeds. This is a big problem that we are facing right now. Also if another tsunami strikes, we are ready for it. There were some programmes conducted by the Disaster Management Centre but I should say that they were a waste of time. Tsunamis do not come as expected. We survived without any prior knowledge earlier.”

 - W. Gunasiri (Galle)

“In her comments about this issue, Malani Lokupothagama, Acting District Secretary in Galle said that many outsiders have come to reside in these houses. “This issue is faced by those who are living on rent basis. In some houses the original owners have moved to other places. Therefore we have to reconsider giving deeds to these outsiders because these houses were built for families affected by the tsunami.”

Many outsiders have come to reside in these housing schemes : Malani Lokupothagama

“The houses that they have given us are not at all in good condition now. When it rains the water flows along the walls to the power box. This has also made the walls crack. Each flat had to pay Rs. 90 000 for giving us the water supply, which was added to the water bill on a monthly basis. Now the company which gave us these places is closed, we complain to the District Secretary, but no action is taken. To be frank, the beach was better. We could engage in the fish industry easily, and we were well to do. Now we have nothing.”

– Dhanapali (Ratmalana)

“We got these houses in 2009 after being displaced for nearly two years. We do not have deeds but were given a certificate to prove that we were residents of our houses. But what is disturbing us mainly are the sanitary facilities. The toilet pits and the drainage system are in bad condition. When it rains the drains overflow and there is a terrible stench in the area. Officials from SLRC used to visit our houses regularly when the scheme was inaugurated but lately they haven’t come for any inspections.”

- Rupika Lakmali (Ratmalana)

“We were displaced for nearly three months and then we got these houses from a NGO. The sanitary facilities are somewhat unsatisfactory because at times the drainage system gets blocked. In addition to that these people promised to give us deeds but still we didn’t receive them.”

- Nimali Basnayake (Moratuwa)

“Most of our families depend on fishing but we have no relief. These days the sea is rough and therefore it is difficult to earn a living. As a result our children get affected because in case if they are asked to bring a book or other item to school we cannot afford to buy them. It is high time that the authorities take some action to attend to our needs.” -

S. Chandrika (Moratuwa)

“My family was displaced for three years. Later we sought refuge in a hall belonging to Soysa flats in Moratuwa before moving to these houses built by a Lions Club. The slab is cracked and water penetrates in to our house. As a result we have to live in unhygienic conditions. These houses were given to us in 2008 and thereafter nobody came to see the conditions that we live in. Therefore we strongly request from the relevant authorities to come and attend to our needs.”
- K. G Prasanna (Lunawa) DHP2838
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See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.

 


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