The family who lost everything

We decided to build the first house – BROOKSON HOUSE – for this family.  Their elder son Ishan Lakruwan was himself dragged by the waves for half a mile and survived. He has now been given a scholarship by UKFG member Susan Fuller in Leeds.

As soon as this family was chosen, my family in Galle set about building the house. My sister-in-law, a consultant architect, drew the plans. One brother had the unenviable, full-time job of cutting though the all red tape and fighting unbelievable bureaucracy in Galle.  My Brother-in-law, an electrical engineer undertook to install the electricity.

Above all, my father-in-law bought labour and material and supervised the whole construction programme from start to finish.  Although our original estimate based on pre-tsunami prices was way out, these volunteers in my family have helped to keep the cost down from the Government estimate of £3100 for a two-bedroom house.

As you can see from the photos, we have not disappointed anybody. After a small religious ceremony in front of dignitaries in Galle, the two bedroom BROOKSON HOUSE (with tiled floor and roof) was handed over to Shantha and family by my mother.

It was very sad to note that ours was the only house completed in Galle at that time where 24400 houses were destroyed on that terrible day. Many British tourists who have fallen in love with Galle over the years and Sri Lankan expatriates have returned there to build houses with their own money.  Unfortunately, the Sri Lankan Government and the British Charities to whom had been given £300M, are still planning, discussing, running seminars and carrying out surveys on reconstruction work. At the time Brookson House was built they had not built a single house in Galle.

We still have a long way to go but I have already had enough pledges of funds for another two or three houses. But with more donotions from other friends I hope to have more houses built there.

Money donated has also given Scholarships to 12 children who lost everything including parents and siblings. (We would still like to hear from more sponsors willing to donate £60 year towards a child’s schooling.

There are hundreds of traumatized children in Galle who have gone through untold horrors – seeing their parents die in front of them. There are mothers who had to let go of one child in order to save another. The mental anguish they are going through, the guilt they feel is unimaginable.  Sri Lanka has no Social or Welfare systems and there are no trauma counsellors like the UK. They have been left to cope on their own. Three months after the tsunami, they are still living in temples, schools or overcrowded muddy tents along the coast in Galle.  The world cannot sit by while this is happening!

I am very grateful to you all who have joined me in our hour of need. I am also very humbled by the fact that friends who I had never met, trusted me enough to give large donations knowing that they would go direct to help the Tsunami victims.

Unfortunately, our work is not done yet. These victims need much more direct help from the world. With the help of the supporters of UKFG, we can do a little more.

Unlike large charities whose managers earn five-figure salaries and stay in luxury hotels in the Southern coast, we have no overheads. Through our family connections we are able to cut through the red tape and get things done quickly.

You can see the first results. Now please help us to do much more by building more houses. One day you may go to Sri Lanka and see the smiling faces of children you have saved.

I am contacting old friends in companies where I have worked, in the hope that others will join us in this humanitarian effort. Every penny counts and every £1000, £500, £100 or £1 you give will directly benefit some poor bereaved family who are going through so much agony and despair.  The Sri Lankan government and the foreign charities may want to walk away from this human disaster unparalleled in history, but as fellow human beings we cannot do that. Sri Lanka needs much much help from you!

I would appeal to all my friends to help us build more houses and sponsor more children. Your smallest donation could make all the different to a family in Galle.

Many thanks” Devsiri and Ruvini Hewavidana
March 2005

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