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House rebuilding program

Support Sri Lanka Foundation post Tsunami Reconstruction Projects in Sri Lanka focus on the poorest of Sri Lankan society and their children. By giving us your support you will have a direct opportunity to share your compassion giving hope to so many suffering families along Sri Lanka’s devastated coastline. 

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The Hemachandra Family

 

Mr Hemachandra and his sons                His ruined home after the tsunami

 

The Hemachandra family tragically lost their mother and grandmother in the Tsunami along with their house. Leaving Mr. Hemachandra to bring up his three sons alone. We are helping with funding the rebuilding of their house and in the furnishing of the house once completed.

 

The youngest boy salvages is bike          The wave ripped through and lifted the

                                                             foundations

 

The shed in the back ground is now their home.  The three boys standing on the remains of their home.

 

We heard about the Hemachandra family by Steve Turner from Leicester who sent us this letter.

SRI LANKA  AFTER THE TSUNAMI – A PLEA FOR HELP

About 18 months ago I wrote an account in the Leicester Echo about a family I had got to know in Sri Lanka who had fallen on hard times. The story had a happy ending as I was able to repay the kindness they had shown to me by raising enough money, with the help of a number of local people, to buy the family a tuk tuk, or three wheeler taxi.  On Boxing Day 2004 the tail end of the tsunami hit the beach where they lived and sadly it still had enough power to destroy their shack and all their possessions. Since then they have rebuilt their life a second time after living in a tent for several months and as I write in the middle of February 2006 they are just about to move into a new home thanks to the support of the Don Bosco Roman Catholic organisation and to many kind people who sent money directly to the Don Bosco Centre in their town.  I visited the family again last Christmas and I was really pleased to see that their future looks much better than had seemed possible twelve months before.

I attended a very moving tsunami anniversary service on Boxing Day and the next morning I travelled down to the south of the island with a Sri Lankan friend who wanted me to meet a family he knew there. We ended up in a seaside town called Ambalangoda,  very close to Peraliya, the site where 1,500 people died in a train that was caught and engulfed by the wave. My friend had been staying there a year before with relatives when the tsunami struck and he had spent the next ten days sleeping in a temple and helping to rescue people, look after orphaned children and organise food deliveries. Those days have made an indelible impression on him and we both found ourselves in tears as he told me about what it was like during that time.

He took me to meet a man called Mr Hemachandra and his family. He has three sons aged 15, 10 and 6. They are called Asanka, Hasanka and Lasantha. They lived about 150 yards inland from the beach. When the tsunami struck the eldest boy, Asanka, was away visiting relatives. The other two were outside with their mother and grandmother. The wave was about 12 feet high and it swept them away before they could run. Tragically their mother was deaf and could not hear people shouting to warn her.

The boys explained to me that as they were swept away they both managed to grab hold of a tree trunk. They said, “we climbed up like monkeys and shouted Help, Help, but nobody could help us.”  Once the wave receded people did come and rescue them. They showed me the tree which saved them and it was at least 100 yards from where the wave first took them. Tragically the bodies of their mother and grandmother were found nearby. Their house has also been destroyed with just a few walls left standing. The wave had got under the concrete foundation and lifted the whole house. Their temporary home is next to the ruins of their family home, which is a constant reminder of that terrible morning.

I spent two days with the Hemachandra's. The two boys are still affected by those events, especially Lasantha. The family is living in a tsunami hut, not much bigger than a large garden shed, and hoping that the Government will do something to help them. Sadly there is no sign of this happening and Mr Hemachandra and Asanka begged me to try and help them raise enough money to build a new house. They have since sent me the costings and it will only cost £1,200 for the materials. Labour is no problem as there are any number of friends prepared to help with the building.

I have set up a bank account and already I have been able to pay in some donations. A number of Evington people helped me to collect for the tuk tuk before and I am now asking whether any readers can spare anything to help this tragic family. I would love to be able to send them enough to start building in the next few months. Ideally someone reading this will have some spare money and is wondering what to do with it. Well, you don’t get if you don’t ask!

If you feel that you are able to help, perhaps you could start by giving me a call.  I can pay cheques or cash into the account and would be delighted to collect any donations or give you an address to send them to. It would be wonderful to be able to print a photo of their new home in a future edition and to say that the Echo readers helped to build it.

Steve Turner

Steve was in town wearing a Support Sri Lanka Foundation T shirt and was stopped by a lady who had raised funds for the Tsunami victims and had not yet found a suitable cause to donate the money to. 

The money was Gift Aided to our charity enabling us to fund the building of the Hemachandra house project. The Gift Aid from this donation will be used to fund the initial basic appliances & furniture.

We visited the Hemachandra's in May 2006.  The foundations were well under way.  Unfortunately labour is in high demand due to the amount of rebuilding going on so the progress is slow, but at least it is getting there.

We took the family out for a huge meal and treated them to what ever they wanted!

Yes you've guessed it - the boys wanted cricket bats!  What a surprise!!

 

More pictures of the house build:

The almost finished home at last.  Taken May 2007.  Life can soon return back to normal - well as normal as it can be after such a traumatic experience.  Visit our Supporters Diaries page and read more about this family when Steve our charity travel consultant visited the Hemachandra's this Spring.

"Home sweet home"

The Hemachandra household - August 2009

 

We were greeted with the three boys and Mr Hemachandra standing in a line in front of their smartly blue painted home with handful of leaves (name escapes me) but they mean good luck.  Gosh how the boys had grown - lovely looking boys but all with sad brown eyes.  They have experienced the worlds worse natural disaster but were saved by one of the palm trees still standing in their garden which they hung onto whilst the waters swirled past them.  Mr. Hemachandra senior is now seriously ill and now living with another relative.  We were shown with pride their  new home which is now about 30' x 40' divided into four rooms -a living room and three bedrooms.  The kitchen area still has no roof and is work in progress but funding has run out (building material has increased by a good 15%).  The wooden shed they lived in for two years was still the kitchen and so primitive  but it is what they are used to - cooking over an open fire. Everywhere was very clean but sparse.  There are no wardrobes, what clothes they own are stored in a suitcase they each have.  It was good to see them and we took lots of gifts for them - new clothes, school books, pencils etc.  Messrs Hemachandra where given new sarongs and toiletries.  We took the family out for a family feast - they were given the menu and told they could have what they wanted and again very modestly asked for rice!  Lovely boys who will stay dear in my heart.  One extra thing we did before leaving was to donate £30 for a pair of reading glasses for the middle aged boy. It would be nice to complete their kitchen.   If anyone would like to donate £300 we can make sure this is done for them. 

 

Jonathan with the Hemachandra family inside their new home.  The photos in the back ground include their Mother and Grand Mother who died in the tsunami.

 

Nicki with the Hemachandra boys and their father standing outside the wooden shed they had to live in for two years

 

Jonathan and Gamini standing outside the front of the new house.  The young boy is holding a photo of us standing on the footings 3 years ago.  Now there is the side wall of their home.

 

 

Treating the family to a luxury meal.  Plate loads of food soon disappeared!  The ladies in the photo are Gamini's wife and children.

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