Saturday, January 07, 2006

SRI LANKA: For Tsunami Survivors, New Lives Unfold Too Slowly

By Wahyuana

GALLE, Sri Lanka (Asia Media Forum) - For more than nine months now, S Dillum Sanjeewani, 29, has been living at the Seeb Rees temporary housing complex at Mahamodara in this district in southern Sri Lanka.

Another 70 families share the housing complex where Sanjeewani lives with her husband, child and her in-laws. Her "house" is a blue canvas tent, roughly 2.5 by 2.5 metres, that includes a sleeping area and a small kitchen.

"Most of my time is spent outside. It’s very hot inside and impossible to stay for a long time," said Sanjeewani. "It leaks when it rains."

Sanjeewani and her family sought refuge at a camp at the Mahamodara Buddhist temple for about three months immediately after the tsunami swept away her home and a child in December 2004. The family also lost its fishing boat, forcing Sanjeewani's husband to do odd jobs to make a living.

Still, Sanjeewani is comparatively better off than many others at the camp. Both her neighbours, 26-year-old S Uchithra 27-year-old W P Niroshani lost their husbands, children and homes in the storm.

"We are lonely and jobless. This is very stressful," said Uchithra. Before the tsunami, the two sold fish on the streets around Mahamodara beach. "I want to restart my business but I need money to do that," added Niroshani. She does not have the 5,000 rupees (50 U.S. dollars) she needs to start up.....

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