The Tsunami Files #4: A New Home, a New Hope

Haji Muhammad sitting outside his home, built with PWRDF funds after the tsunami. Photo: Simon Chambers

Haji Muhammad is a 57-year old man with heart trouble.  His family of six lives in one of 14 permanent houses built by PWRDF in Nilaveli, Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami.

“Before the tsunami, I bought and sold fish.  My house was close to the beach.  It was flooded by the tsunami, so we sheltered in the mosque for two months,” he recalled as we sat together in his yard.

The Muhammad family was chosen to receive funding from the Organization for Eelam Refugee Rehabilitation (OfERR), a PWRDF partner working in Sri Lanka.  OfERR chose families who had many members and who were most affected by the tsunami.

The Muhammads have built their home on land that the family already owned, with support from OfERR’s field staff.  “OfERR stayed in our community when the other NGOs left.  OfERR is the best,” Mr. Muhammad enthused as our conversation continued.

Because of the new house provided by PWRDF funds, he has been able to focus his attention on generating income for his family.  Muhammad has not returned to his job as a fish merchant, but has focused on raising goats and creating a home garden.  He is able to grow enough brinjal (eggplant), beans, maize, and cabbage to feed his family and to provide about 150-200 rupees (about $2 Canadian) per day in extra income.   With this money, he is able to send his daughter to school.

After showing me around his garden, we sat again under the porch of his home drinking orange soda.  I asked him one final question- what message do you have for people in Canada?  His eyes lit up with his smile as he said, “I am happy you came to visit.  Thank you for helping the very poor people!”

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