By S. Umakanthan in Jaffna, Sri Lanka
15/08/2014 – Jaffna, Sri Lanka: The Sri Lanka Red Cross Post Conflict Recovery Programme (RC – PCRP) is designed to ensure that people returning to their homeland after the conflict, gets an opportunity to rebuild their lives through housing, water and sanitation & livelihood, and by this to live a dignified life.
In this programme you meet various people coming from various walks of lives. Some are determined to ensure that their lives are once again at a better stage and some persevere towards a better life slowly and steadily.
In this context we met a woman who was very much determined to build a better future for her daughter despite the numerous obstacles on her way.
Palaniyandi Suganthi is the breadwinner of her family. She has a daughter who is mute since her birth. Both of them live in Adampan in the Nanattan Division in Jaffna.
After 3 years of being displaced, in 2010 she returned to her village and settled in a temporary shelter. At that time she struggled with her day-to-day life with no adequate income and no safer place to live with her young daughter. She engaged in manual labour in order to the bare minimum.
This hardship is what made her to be selected for the Post Conflict Recovery Programme last year, implemented by Sri Lanka Red Cross & supported by the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
After being selected for the Post Conflict Recovery Programme Suganthi receives cash in instalments in order to build her house. These instalments are granted in several stages. The flexibility of the programme allows her to manage the cash, thus giving her the ability to utilize it for another element in the rebuilding process. However this only is allowed after completion of the initial commitments.
Due to financial difficulties Suganthi wanted to start a livelihood programme to support her day-to-day expenditure along with the construction of her new house. Hence she chose to open a small shop.
“When I received my first instalment from the housing programme, I thought that if I engage in my housing construction efficiently I would be able to save some money which I can put aside as a down payment for my business as well” says Suganthi.
Accordingly the first instalment, which is given for the foundation work of house construction, was completed with help of the instruction of Technical Officer by the given time and by putting her efforts and her participation in the construction work in every stage of the construction.
With this she was able to set aside 30,000 rupees from the 1st instalment as capital for her shop.
“After few days, I was able to get the money back little by little as profit from the business”
She repeated the same method for her 2nd & 3rd instalments and recovering it back from the profits made from her business.
A new house.
Suganthi completed her house in December 2013, and managed to move into the new house by end of January this year. She currently engages in business activities and earning a credible income that supports her family.
“The hardships people go through everyday in the north is absolutely unimaginable, and through this they manage to build a better future” says Igor Dmitryuk, Head of Delegation of IFRC in Sri Lanka. “First we want them to build a house, that is what the money is given for, however there’s a bit of flexibility for them to utilize those funds, if they manage to find a saving. In the end we believe that all this should lead towards a very dignified life”
Speaking to us Suganthi says “I live very peacefully with my daughter in my new house, I will be ever grateful to the Red cross for allowing me to not only build a house, but a stable income as well”