Lately, we have been researching and doing some interviews for NewUse’s next help project. Our plan was in fact to find a smaller project this time, since building a house is a demanding process. But then, we met this family that I will tell you about, and there is nothing we want more than to help them.
Tiramadurage and Magage got married 15 years ago. They never really got the chance to buy a permanent home and have been living at different addresses. The husband is a fisherman. He has a small wooden catamaran and a simple fishing stick that he is using to catch small fishes in the river just outside Hikkaduwa. The catch is usually enough for food for the family and somedays also enough to sell and make a small profit. For the past seven years, they have been living in a small, temporary shack close to this river. This is a place we have passed by so many times, but never realized that the collection of wood and plastic was in fact not a storage, but a home for a family!
The couple has a daughter, lovely D, that is six years old. She is in first grade at a nearby village school.
It is sad to think of the unsecure and unhealthy conditions she is growing up in. This is not a home, but just a few wood pieces and some plastic that is not protecting from the rain, wind and animals. In addition, this area by the river is not a safe neighborhood. When we visit the family, they tell us that the one thing they really need is a lamp. It is getting dark around 6 pm here in Sri Lanka, and the daughter has nowhere to do her homework. The place that they are living in does not have electricity, toilet or running water. We are therefore planning to check the possibility to get a battery that can charge with solar power, and give power to a few lamps.
For this family we are planning to give help in two steps. First of all to provide them with a few thing for their immediate needs. The solar power battery could really make life a little easier. In addition we are thinking to get some better fishing equipment to help Tiramadurage to increase his daily catch to raise the families income and make their life a little better. The daughter also needs some writing books and pencils for homework.
But of course, the second step has to be to look into their living situation. The biggest issue we face here, is that the land they are living on is not their own. Even if we raised the money for a house, there is no way that they can get building permission to build a house there. So this time we would need to look into the possibility of buying or renting a good and more permanent home for this family. We do realize this might take some time, and that we might need to ask other people for help!
The plan and visions for the NewUse organization was never to be another one of those charities that is constantly begging for donations and support. That´s the whole idea behind opening the Second Hand shop and our goal is to be self sufficient. The shop has become popular among both tourists and locals alike, and we already experience that the income of the shop is much larger than the daily costs like rent, salary for Nikeshala, electricity and so on. However, there were many costs in the startup, like repairing, paint, furniture, equipment for sewing etc. That is the reason the total budget is still not in plus, and that we have still not been able to put the daily profit from the shop straight into helping projects. Nevertheless, we are getting there in a short time!
Due to these 2 factors, there might take some time before this family gets a better house, but we still wanted to share the story to show you what we are working on. And if you would like to help speeding up the process, we would of course appreciate any donations!