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Home >> Life
UPDATED: 09:33, December 14, 2005
Feature: Sri Lankan tsunami survivors strive to make a living
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The 32-year-old A. D. Malani and her husband operate a small grocery beside their temporary house in Dadalla, a small village two km north of Galle (about 120 km south of the capital Colombo), one of the districts badly hit by last year's tsunami.

"We opened this shop about six months ago. We can earn about 1, 000 rupees (about 10 US dollars) per month from this shop," said Malani in her shop, which sells vegetables, beverages, sugar and other everyday necessaries.

Although losing their house and all belongings, Malani said she was happy because herself, her husband and all their three sons survived the tsunami, which killed more than 31,000 in Sri Lanka.

A foreign organization helped them build a temporary house. The Sri Lankan government provided cash, rice, flour, coconut powder and some other daily necessaries to the survivors after the tsunami.

"We have food and shelter. But it's not easy to find a job and we don't have cash," Malini said.

Near Malani's shop, a group of women and children were making ropes from coconut fiber using simple machine.

Malani said her neighbors can make hand crafts from the coconut rope and sell to the market.

In Akurala, a village about 80 km south of Colombo, the tsunami damaged J. Baitn's house. Cracks could still be seen in the wall of the house.

"The government gave us 50,000 rupees (500 dollars) to repair the house," said the 62-year-old Baitn, who has retired from the country's railway department.

Batin and his wife live in the two-bedroom house with their two daughters and seven grandchildren.

The government provides cash and food to Batin's family. Batin can also support the family by his pension from the government.

To make a better life, Batin's wife and daughter are making cushions by themselves to earn more money for the family.

However, some tsunami survivors have not found their way of living nearly one year after the disaster.

In the nearby Peraliya village (about 90 km from Colombo), where last year's massive tsunami swept a train off the tracks and killed more than 1,000 people, a group of women and children were wandering in the tragic site to seek help from visitors.

The 48-year-old W. Udulani said the tsunami leveled her family's beach side house and a large shop worth at least 250,000 rupees (2,500 dollars). Her husband also lost his fishing boat in the disaster.

"My husband grasped my collar and led me run more than one km to escape the tsunami," said Udulani.

Udulani, her husband, and their daughter live together with Udulani's mother in their temporary house, which is only about 10 square meters.

"There is no kitchen and no toilet in the room. It's very hot and very uncomfortable inside," Udulani said.

Because their leveled house falls within the 100-meter buffer zone defined by the government, Udulani and her husband are not allowed to rebuild their house in the same location.

"The government promised to give us a new house. One year after the tsunami, we get nothing," said Udulani sadly.

The government said it had made every effort to help the tsunami survivors. The international community has pledged more than 2 billion dollars for the reconstruction of the Indian Ocean island country.

According to the government, 95 percent of transitional housing has been completed.

Over 51,000 homeowners have received at least one installment of a grant to rebuild their damaged houses.

Meanwhile, funding has been pledged by donors for over 39,000 new homes, and 15,000 houses are to be handed over by year end.

To help restoring livelihoods of the 800,000 tsunami affected people, the government has provided temporary cash and food tickets.

Based on need, each of 250,000 affected households can get temporary cash between 5,000 rupees (50 dollars) and 20,000 rupees (200 dollars), said the government.

The government has also identified 96 cash-for-work programs to improve employment in the tsunami hit areas.

In the fisheries sector, 70 percent of the 19,900 boats destroyed have been replaced, while 90 percent of damaged boats have been repaired and 50 percent of lost fishing nets replaced.

However, giving the extent of the disaster, more efforts are needed for the country to get back on its feet.

Source: Xinhua

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