By Sakshi Selvanathan
Nestled within the verdant hills of the Bogawana estate of the Bridwell division in Nuwara Eliya, lies the newly constructed house of 55-year-old Mrs Sivanu Poopathy – now inhabited by herself, her husband P. Viswanathan, teenaged daughter who is still schooling, and a son who works in the private sector.
Before the mere idea of owning an amply spaced house with proper facilities became a reality, both husband and wife were employed with the Bogawana estate for more than 25 years and were living in a ‘line-room’ for more than 30 years since they got married. During this time, they had been living with Mrs Sivanu’s 84-year-old father and her brother-in-law’s family in the same ‘line-room’, which bore a space of barely 300 square feet. Later, they had moved to another house by renting from outside.
However, in light of the implementation of the Indian Housing Project (IHP), Mrs Sivanu’s family was selected under the project and has since been actively involved in the construction process of their own house from August 2017 onwards. Indeed, employing an owner-driven approach in the construction has been an integral component of the IHP, which aims to empower beneficiaries and enlist their contribution for the construction of their houses. And in the case of Mrs Sivanu, their new house was fully completed in May 2018.
So far, more than 60 families have moved to the new houses from their ‘line-rooms’ in the Bridwell division. And among them, Mrs Sivanu Poopathy is one of the first families to move into their new home in mid-2019 after they received the basic facilities such as electricity and water supply.
Both husband and wife have now retired from estate work and have established a grocery shop by annexing an additional room to their new house, in order to generate new source of income for their family. In addition to this, they also engage in home gardening in the land surrounding their house within the 7-perch land provided for them under this project.
Furthermore, Mr Sivanu’s husband has started vegetable farming in a separate land and is thriving in his own business. He happily stated that ‘this new home has opened up a new life and hope, additional source of incomes’, and has offered respite from the many hardships they had to endure due to the poor facilities in their ‘line-rooms’. Mrs Sivanu Poopathy herself further stated: “Now we are no longer dependent on the estate’s income and we now have our own business. This gives us more freedom and motivation to lead a peaceful life. And this has all happened because of this new home”.
It is now quite evident that the family enjoys more space in the home, and Mrs Sivanu is happily leading a busy life with her grand-son and daughter-in-law, whilst still looking after her father under a better, bigger roof.
The Indian Housing Project is funded by the Government of India and is implemented by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS). The Indian Housing Project is implemented as an integral part of the Red Cross Post Conflict Recovery Programme (PCRP).