On December 26, 2004, a massive tsunami devastated all the coastal regions in the Indian Ocean. In Sri Lanka over 50,000 people were killed, tens of thousands of homes destroyed, hundreds of thousands of people displaced, and tens of thousands of children orphaned. Even though the world responded with unprecedented humanitarian aid at the time, years later, there were still many survivors who needed help—there still are.

MicroAid Builds a New Home for the Soodin Family — 2010 

In Hambantota, a town in southern Sri Lanka which was especiall hard hit by the tsunami in 2004, MicroAid built a house for the Soodin family. They were very poor to begin with and, over the years, many an INGO had promised to help, but never came through. Mr. Soodin is an industrious brick maker, but is living hand-to-mouth as he supports his wife, three sons, and three daughters. All the kids are going to school, except for one of the sons who works at the salt factory.

The Soodin abode since 2004

As a humanitarian project, the measure of this one will not be in how we helped “build capacity” or “affected productivity,” it will be in how many nights this family lives under a real roof, surrounded by solid walls, with a modicum of privacy, rather than living in a cramped, corrugated-tin shanty!

The Soodin's old kitchen 

The new home under construction

Jon Ross helping to place the very important central beam before roof construction can begin. 

Their daughter Rifka in front of the tractor that brought in the new beams for the roof. 

The Soodin's new home completed. 

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MicroAid Repairs the Thaya Family Home — 2010 

MicroAid provided windows and doors to two tsunami families who, after their homes were washed away, were just handed money to rebuild. Well, needless to say, most of these simple people did not know how to budget for construction and were targeted by unscrupulous “contractors,” so most were left with half-completed and inadequate homes. The international agencies that gave them the cash (and you would recognize the big names) never did any follow-up to see how the money was spent, or if the people were OK. Until MicroAid showed up last year, no one had checked in on them.

Thaya house since 2005 

Mrs. Thaya has three sons and tries to make ends meet by running a “boutique.”  When I asked where it was, she pointed to the hut in the corner of the compound.  The place does a brisk business with locals stopping by to pick up odd and ends.  Mrs. Thaya also supports her husband who was disabled in an accident when he was working at a bakery.  He lost an eye and was dismissed because he could no longer do his job.  There is no workman’s comp here.

A budget meeting 

The window and door framed were custom made by a mill, and the door was hand hand carved.  They were then hung by carpenters.

The home complete and secure 

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MicroAid Repairs the Nagakanni Family Home — 2010 

Mrs. Nagakanni’s husband, a fisherman, had been abducted by the LTTE and then imprisoned for seven years.  He was away when the tsunami struck and destroyed their home.  They have a son and four daughters.

Their uncompleted house was designed with expensive, fancy arched openings for the front doors and window—a ridiculous design element given the circumstances and budget.  There are no standard sizes here; each opening is a different dimension.  Consequently, every frame, window, and door has to be custom made by a mill, then installed by a mason, then finished by another carpenter (in addition to grillwork done by a welder), making this the most expensive part of the house. 

Fitting the new window frames 

Both families helped by providing their own labor, and meals for the workers.  MicroAid  provided them with the dignity of a house with some security, privacy, light and ventilation.  They now have a home and not a dark depressing cave!

New windows on the side of the house 

The new doors and windows for the front of the home

Happy home, happy kids!

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