House Dedication Signals "New Beginning Of Hope" For Tsunami-affected Family In Sri Lanka

March 27, 2005

Fisherman’s Family and “First Builder” Team Celebrate

Then and now: fisherman K. Vadivel on the rubble of his old home after the tsunami; with daughter Manimala outside their new home three months later.

BATTICALOA, 27th March 2005: Habitat for Humanity staff and volunteers along with skilled “First Builders” from the USA joined K. Vadivel and his daughter Manimala to dedicate their new house in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, on March 24. The joyful occasion was nevertheless a poignant reminder of the tsunami that destroyed their former home and took the life of Manimala’s mother.

As they waited for their guests to arrive for the dedication, Vadivel hung a picture of his wife Saraswathy; Habitat affiliate coordinator Justice Gregory placed a candle in front of the photo. “I know she is watching over us,” said Manimala. “She nurtured us and gave us love in our home.”

. Because they had been Habitat for Humanity homeowners, the family was given top priority for assistance by the local Habitat affiliate. Vadivel asked that his house be rebuilt on the land where his family had lived for 30 years, near the water where he made his living as a fisherman.

Mission accomplished: “First Builder” team members look on as affiliate co-ordinator Justice Gregory (far right) speaks at the dedication of the house build with Manimala and K. Vadivel. Third from right is a local skilled mason.

Two months after the tsunami, a Christian non-governmental organization gave boats to the fishermen in the community. Now Vadivel is back on the water earning his living, rebuilding his life one day at a time.

“We did not expect to have a house dedication while we were here so it is very special to be able to share this,” said Bob Bell, group leader for the American volunteers. “This house culminates a new beginning of hope for this family.

“When we arrived five days ago we didn’t know exactly what we would be doing. During our time here we worked on a total of five houses, but spent most of our time on this one.”

The night before the dedication, five of the team members and three masons worked late to pour the flooring. The last of the roof tiles were put on the next morning. As the last tile was placed, the mason, Johan, shook hands with the team members. The house was finished, with the exception of the doors that were hung during the next few days.

HFH Batticaloa has received more than 800 applications for houses from tsunami-affected families. The ongoing affiliate program is a microfinance project called “Save & Build” in which groups of 12 low-income families save together and help each other to build houses using expertise and matching funds from Habitat for Humanity.