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Habitat For Humanity Celebrates Completion of Rebuild Sri Lanka With Families And Volunteers. PDF Print E-mail

Almost a year after the first talks began of Sri Lanka hosting a mini “Jimmy Carter Build” called ‘Rebuild Sri Lanka’ did it finally happen. And what a ‘Big’ build event it was indeed!


The families chosen for this project came from different backgrounds, with different cultures and mother tongues… they are Tamils and Singhalese; Buddhists, Christians and Hindus. They have all desired one thing, which is also a basic human need-the right to have a place to call home.


These families are extremely special. They have already been working together for more than 10 years to achieve this dream of owning a home. Amidst the conflict in the country, they were not to be deterred from their goal. They did not turn against each other; instead, they worked with a local NGO called Janabodaya Kendraya, tirelessly until this August 2012, when their dreams came true. Today they live together as one community, in beautiful houses that will forever remind everyone of what unity, peace and understanding can do.


And so, on the 5th of August 2012; the building of these 23 homes (one home had been build earlier as a test build) began with an opening ceremony. 158 volunteers from New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Great Britain and USA were warmly welcomed with garlands by the home-owners and their families. As part of the opening ceremony, the home owner’s children, dressed up in very beautiful traditional attire, & then performed a traditional dance called “Puja” while holding candles in their hands – a dance that requests God for blessings. The dance warmed the hearts of many.


On Monday, the 6th of August 2012; after a short presentation on safety at the construction site by the Japanese volunteers and some fun yet important stretching exercise the build site was officially declared open by Kelly Koch (Associate Director, Program HFHI AP) and Tony Senewiratne (National Director, HFHSL) by striking a hammer (held by Tony) against a shovel (held by Kelly) to simulate a gong.


A mid-week peace concert and dinner was scheduled on the 8th of August 2012. Sri Lanka Unites – a youth movement committed to reconciling all Sri Lankans across the Nation, inspired all the Rebuild participants through their short presentation and singing, bringing Sri Lanka closer to their hearts. As the dinner continued, a myriad of beautiful performances by professional Sri Lankan traditional dancers took everyone’s breath away. It was a memorable evening for all.


The rest of the days consisted of house construction amidst real bonding between the international volunteers, local volunteers, and the home-partners. The sweat and smiles on everyone’s face, was sometimes enough to convey their feelings.


For many, if not all, Saturday the 11th of August 2012 came all too soon. The houses were complete and all had beautiful porches with personal touches from the volunteers themselves. Attended by Hon. Basil Rajapaksa and other important dignitaries of Sri Lanka, the dedication ceremony was touching, with a few speeches from volunteers and a home partner. When the house keys were handed over officially to a home owner representative; A widow – Annama Supramaniam, who had spent the entire week working extremely hard with her son alongside the volunteers, there was not a dry eye left in the house.


In just one week, 23 houses were built and long lasting friendships were made. There was no division of race, religion, culture, class or status. Everyone worked together, in unity and harmony, to achieve one goal. A community of 24 safe and decent homes now stands in Pattayamwate Village, Negombo; filled with families who are going about their daily duties without the worry of a deteriorating or cramped home; a community filled with the laughter of children playing nearby and the occasional sound of a mother accessing clean water from her well. The Rebuild week will forever be a special memory for all who participated in it and for Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka especially, it reiterates our mission and vision:
A safe and decent home for every single one of us!


(c) 2012 Habitat for Humanity Sri Lanka.