Caritas Sri Lanka handed over 44 newly built houses to the families in Neelakerny Village on 23rd October 2017 with the funding support of Caritas Swiss.
Neelakerny, a village in Muthur Divisional Secretariat was hit by two calamities over the past decade. In 2004 the Tsunami hit this area, and thereafter in 2006 when conflict erupted once again between the government and LTTE, the families were affected severely and fled from this village towards Batticaloa district. When they returned to the village later, their former houses were all damaged due to the war and lived in temporary shelters in their own land. The living conditions of the families were deplorable, while they did not receive any other assistance.
At this juncture Caritas Trincomalee-EHED took up the challenge to uplift the lives of these families. With the support of Caritas Sri Lanka-SEDEC, EHED approached Caritas Spain to build some houses for the displaced. Later Caritas Spain took up the task to build 34 houses. While the construction was ongoing, 56 families were also given livelihood assistance mostly through animal husbandry with many opting to rear goats.
Later in 2016, Caritas Switzerland (Caritas Swiss) having conducted a feasibility study provided 44 new houses to the families in Neelakerny. The house construction which began in February 2016 adopted the ‘owner-driven’ model with each family undertaking the construction work with technical support and guidance from Caritas EHED staff and consultants. Each house was 475 square feet in size and cost approximately Rs, 620,000.00. The intervention was further enriched with the donation of paints by two well known Corporates, McLaren’s Holding and Lalan’s Fabrics Pvt Ltd, towards the color-washing of each house.
In addition as water was a major problem for these families, Caritas EHED with the kind funding assistance of Caritas Italiana, was able to provide pipe-borne water connections to 93 families in Neelakerny which was a grave need of the returned families.
The handing over ceremony of the new houses took place on 23rd October 2017. Honorable Governor of the Eastern Province, Mr. Rohitha Bogollagama was the Chief Guest on the occasion while His Excellency the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka, Mr. Heinz Walker-Nederkoorn graced the occasion as Guest of Honor. Other invitees attending this significant day for the families of Neelakerny included the Government Agent of Trincomalee, Mr. N. A. A. Pushpakumara, the Bishop of Trincomalee, Rt. Rev.Dr. Christian Noel Emmanuel, Rev. Fr. Mahendra Gunatilleke, the National Director of Caritas Sri Lanka-SEDEC and the Divisional Secretary, Muttur Mr. V. Yoouff.
The House Opening ceremony was organized under the leadership of Caritas Trincomale-EHED Director Rev. Fr. G. Nithidasan.
A notable achievement for the poor communities of Neelakerny was the assurance given by the Governor of the Eastern Province at the ceremony, to develop the village with facilities such as roads and other basic amenities.