18/03/2013 – Himidurawa, Ampara – The sun started to rise on Saturday the 16th bringing new hopes and dreams to a special family in rural Ampara in the Eastern shores of Sri Lanka. That day Dilshani Lakmali, who’s 15 years old got up early and got dressed not to go to school. School was closed on a Saturday. It was a much more important day for her and for her brother. In order to understand the importance of this day, we need to go back exactly a year to the past.
Wasana Maddumage, Women Development Officer attached to Uhana Divisional Secretariat was entrusted with a special task to visit households in Himidurawa Village to collect information for the “Census of Population & Housing Program”. While she was a visiting household individually, she met a 15-year-old female child living in the house No; 11/9/1. The household was namely R. D. Prema Kumara. Wasana explained the objective of her visit and asked about the parents of the child. It was a small mud house, which was about to collapse due to the severe damages caused by heavy rain experienced during the monsoon period two years ago.
A girl opened the door and asked Wasana to take a seat. As she entered in to the house she saw middle-aged man who was very sick lying on a bed in the living room. He was unable to move without assistance by someone. Then a middle aged lady appeared before her. When the mother of the girl also walked out Wasana understood the situation in this house. The mother was also diagnosed with a mental disorder and was not able to speak or function by herself.
The girl’s name was Dilshani Lakmali.
Lakmali explained to Wasana as to what happened to her father. He was a fisherman and became permaenently disabled two years back due to a motor accident. Now he cannot walk or move. He uses a wheel chair for his mobility. Since the father became disabled and the mother is not able to support, it was Lakmali and her brother that does everything around the house, from cooking to cleaning, taking care of their parents, taking them to hospital and everything else.
Currently the house Lakmali lives in was in a dilapidated condition. They do not have access to safe drinking water and basic sanitary facilities. They use the facilities belonging to a neighbor. Amidst these hardships Lakmali sat for her G. C. E. O/L Exam last year and is now awaiting to do her Advanced Levels. Her brother studies in the 8th Grade.
After understanding the dire situation Lakmali and her family is in, Wasana contacted the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society’s Ampara Branch. Officials from the Ampara branch visited the house of Lakmali and understood the very unimaginable condition the family is living. Soon afterwards the Chairman of the Ampara SLRCS branch Sunil Dissanayake agreed to contribute a sum of 2000/-
Secondly she contacted the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society Ampara branch and the Lions Club of Galo-ya Valley through her husband. Representatives from the Sri Lanka Red Cross and the Lions Club of Galoya Valley visited the place and decided to build a house for them to live in safe and digni-fied manner. They identified a shelter as an urgent need among others.
Chairman of the Red Cross Ampara branch agreed to contribute a sum of Rupees 2,000/= per month to the family and especially to the children as their tuition fees. Red Cross also took steps to provide more items to the house and also other items needed for their day-to-day work.
However the most important decision to build a house was taken after discussing with the Lion’s Club of Ampara. After initial discussions were positive, SLRCS provided 50,000/- LKR to build a new house.
Today the 16th of March 2013 came bearing the gifts of the hard work by the SLRCS and others who managed to build a proper house for Lakmali and her family.
When she woke up on the morning of the 16th, the smile on her face was because it was the day she was moving into a new house with her family. Life has become a bit better and she can focus more on her studies than to worry about tomorrow.
The President of SLRCS Jagath Abeysinghe, Parliamentary Affairs Secretary to the President of Sri Lanka, Kumarasiri Hettige, Head of Delegation of IFRC Bob McKerrow, The Chairman of the Ampara SLRCS Branch Sunil Dissanayake, National Secretary of SLRCS Nimal Kumar, Deputy Director General of SLRCS Sudath Madugalle, Branch Executive Officer of SLRCS Ampara Branch Prasantha Udayakumara and volunteers from the Ampara branch were part of group that came on the 16th to share the joy of this little life.
During the ceremony held to handover the house to Lakmali’s family, the President of SLRCS said “What we have done here is to give a tomorrow for a child who desperately needed it. And this is our mandate, to make the lives of the vulnerable, less vulnerable so they can live a life in dignity.”
“We hope we could do this to thousands and thousands of families who need help like this, we will to the extend we can, however we can do more if we unite”
During the ceremony Lakmali also spoke a few words. Her entire speech can be summed up in three words.
I’m eternally grateful.