Initially, one of our primary objectives was to assist in the rebuilding of homes. During the first months after the tsunami, however, the government imposed a moratorium on construction until it could develop a full-scale plan. In the East, many refugee camps were established in schools buildings. As such, even children who were not directly impacted by the waves were still affected as they could not attend school.
The governor of that region saw us working and playing at a refugee camp one morning and asked if we could take on construction projects to quickly move families out of the school camps. We were thrilled to accept the challenge. We went to work immediately, repairing homes that were not completely destroyed, rebuilding many that were, and building many “provisional” homes where a permanent structure was not possible. We prioritized our projects, thus, the elderly, sick and pregnant women were given first consideration. In the first 3 weeks, we completed more than a dozen structures and moved about 70 people out of the camps and into homes where they could start the process of rebuilding their lives. We hired local artisans and laborers, refugees themselves, to work alongside the families. Our projects continued until the summer of 2005, when the international organizations finally let loose with full-scale reconstruction. By then Sri Lankan Help had already left a permanent mark in the East.