Emergency Relief for War Widow
Before we arrived on the East Coast, Lal had told us that he had a very serious situation to show us. Just outside his village of Kayankerny, a widow was living—‘camping’ would be a better way to describe it—in the most appalling circumstances. The photo shows her ‘home’. Rubble for a floor, a broken tarpaulin for a covering—no proper shelter at all. Although there had recently been an unseasonably dry period, it was monsoon time. We could not imagine what the conditions would be like then. A small pathetic pile of school books and little school shoes would immediately be soaked as soon as the rain came.
We realised this truly was an emergency situation and immediately asked for a quotation for a small two-roomed dwelling, with a sheltered porch for a kitchen area. (Much better than the open cooking fire—see photo—which is all she has at present.) There is a not far distant neighbour who does have an outside toilet and allows Pawalam to use this, so that will be second priority for us. The house will cost about £2,000, which is large amount for Star Action, and so this is why we have chosen this to be an immediate emergency appeal for further funding.
The circumstances leading to Pawalam not having a government or NGO house after the tsunami was due to unfortunate ‘red tape issues’. Pawalam had recently lost her husband in a terrorist shooting, and missed the application date for a house to replace her tsunami swept away dwelling. She was eventually given a small sum of money, but since she had no other source of income this had to be used to buy food, etc. for her four children. On re-applying she was told that she would have no further help until the authorities saw a foundation laid with the money that had already been spent. To us it was unbelievable how she had been treated when we had just been driving along smart government built roads which must have used a huge amount of the tsunami money contributed by people all around the world.
Clothes for the family too
As well as building a little family house, we are arranging for Sutharsini, our sewing machine lady in Kayankerny, to make new clothes for all the children and two dresses for Pawalam herself.