Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Dispatch #8 - 2nd Report from Poonochchimunai & Cheddipalayam, Batticaloa

Originally published
Rebuilding after the Tsunami in Sri Lanka

1. Poonochchimunai

Mr. Seeralathevan of Poonochchimunai complained to HHR that his name had been removed by the grama sevaga (village headman) from the list of people who needed food. Due to the accumulation of sea water, his house was damaged; therefore he was still in need of assistance. HHR field workers went to the grama sevaga to inquire about this. He advised HHR staff to talk to the Divisional Secretary regarding this incident. HHR staff will take up this matter shortly with this official.

On March 3, HHR field workers were scheduled to meet with the irrigation engineer regarding the final report/estimate and graph of the channel that will need to be constructed to drain flooded water from Poonochchimunai; however, he was unavailable. The staff met instead with the technical assistant in Chenkalady and asked about the status of the report; he said that he will have it ready next week.

Sewing school:

HHR received 56 applications for the sewing school. After conducting interviews with the applicants, we selected 36 students. However, the sewing teacher did not agree to our terms and conditions of employment. Therefore, we had to seek another teacher.

On March 14, five sewing machines were purchased from Kathankudy to begin the sewing classes.

Ms. Thilaka Xavier, the HHR women's desk coordinator, travelled from Jaffna to Batticaloa to inaugurate the sewing school on March 16. Twenty-nine of the thirty-six students participated in this event. Mr. N. Sivanantharajah gave the opening speech, followed by another by Ms. Thilaka Xavier, who spoke about the sewing school and training.

As all of the responsibilities for running the school were assumed by the organizers, she indicated that the program would be a success. She also stressed that regular attendance of the students is essential for the success of the program.

Classes will be held from 1-5:30 pm from Monday to Friday. If there are any cancellations, the classes will be made up on Saturdays or Sundays.

After the training is completed all the students will work together to market their products.

2. Cheddipalayam

On March 3, 12 families who earned a living as clothes washers (dobies) were provided with ironing tables. Furthermore, estimates were made for the cost of building pens for the poultry farmers.

On Mary 19, HHR officials visited Cheddipalayam to meet with the families to give them the sewing machines.

Two machines were given to two villagers, Pushparani Selvarajah and Rasammah Thambipillai. Their machines had been destroyed by the tsunami.

A discussion was held with the families and the following decisions were made:

- It was agreed that assistance will be provided to the poultry farmers after they are settled in permanent homes.

- Mr. Muththaiyah Sangaralingam, who is a fisherman, said that they need nets of 40 sized holes and 32 sized holes to fish the lagoon. He also said that these nets should be 9 yards in length and we should buy them in pieces and then tie them together. We approved his request.

- Mr. Kandaiyah Ehambaram, who runs a beetle leaf farm, said that he needs 2500 young plants and each plant costs Rs. 6.00, for a total of Rs. 15,000.00. The HHR Director said that he could contribute Rs. 12,000.00 to purchase 2000 young plants and advised him to begin the work with the understanding that when he the initial work has been completed, the remainder of the funds would be provided. Mr. Ehambram was told that HHR field officers would visit the farm again to check on its progress.

- Next we spoke with Mrs. Vinayagamoorthy, the proprietor of a grocery store, regarding her request for assistance so that she could purchase inventory. She was told that HHR field officers would visit the store again and give her half the amount needed, with the understanding that the reminder will be given when she provides the receipts.

- Regarding the 12 clothes washer (doby) families, we said that of the amount earmarked for them we have already spent Rs. 8750.00, Rs. 5800.00 for irons, Rs. 2350 for tables, and 600.00 for buckets.

- When we asked what else they needed with the money left, (Rs. 1250.00) they said bicycles. One of the villagers, Mr. Elayathamby Suthaharan, showed us his damaged bicycle and said that he couldn't afford to buy another with his income as a doby. He requested that we give him at least half of the money required to purchase another. We told him that we could only provide some of the money and that he and the other villagers would have to come up with the balance.

However, they pleaded that they did not have any money. Therefore, we agreed to allocate an additional SLRs. 6000 to each family in order for them to purchase bicycles. HHR has ordered a total of twelve bicycles for them.