Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka: Prime Minister hands over 33 Red Cross houses to tsunami victims in Kalutara

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Thirty Three families that lost their homes in Beruwela, Kalutara due to the tsunami were recipients of houses built by the Red Cross.

These permanent housing built under a community based housing project with financial and technical support provided by the Belgian Red Cross in consultation with the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society, is one of several schemes built in Kalutara. The houses built in an area 75 kilometers south of Colombo were handed over by the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka on the 13th of July.

The Prime Minister Hon. Ratnasiri Wickramanayeke in his address to the community noted the high quality standards of the houses in the scheme that included facilities such as pipe borne water, access roads, electricity, and a community centre. Prime Minister, also noted the Red Cross Movement's undertaking of such large programmes though they had no past experience in building houses prior to tsunami.

A beneficiary of one house, Ms H.P. Siriyawathie said "I lost everything except for the dress that I was wearing. Temples, churches and schools were our temporary shelters. During that period we were provided with all necessary basic needs by the government, people of Sri Lanka and foreign countries, and various organizations including Red Cross movement. Today we have moved in to very good houses that were constructed with the financial assistance from the Belgian Red Cross with support from the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society. These houses are far better than the ones we had before the tsunami .We sincerely thank the both Belgian and Sri Lanka Red Cross for the GIFT we received from them."

Another invitee from the area, Hon. Rohitha Abeygunawardene, Minister of Foreign Employment promotion said that affected communities now request "Red Cross houses" because of its high standard.

President of the SLRC Society Jagath Abeysinghe said that the Red Cross pledge to build 15000 houses would be fulfilled and that these programmes will benefit all peoples irrespective of racial or religious differences. He noted that immediately after the tsunami, HUMANITY in our people re-emerged. People in Sri Lanka as well as all over the world voluntarily helped the affected tirelessly on humanitarian grounds.

Mr.Ronnie of the Belgian Red Cross addressing the gathering said that they helped these families to build their own homes. He said that there were times earlier in the project when the beneficiaries said "apoi ba (Oh no) we don't think we can achieve this". But they persevered and built a home of their liking. He said that building their own home helped them with the healing process from the great loss. Now they can live with dignity and pride. He appealed to all recipients to unite and work hard to contribute to build a better Sri Lanka.