The Cash for Work, Debris cleaning and Gender-based Violence & Child Protection Awareness Workshop, are projects carried out in Puttalam via Oxfam and partners. The activities were implemented with the financial support of the START Fund, in response to the recent flooding in Puttalam. Oxfam in Sri Lanka visited the community after the completion of project activities.
This is what they had to say.
Anoma (43) and Asha (33) are working mothers, hailing from Gal Amunu, Mahaweva. They recently finished work as part of the Cash for Work (CFW) project, implemented through the START Fund by Oxfam in Sri Lanka and partners. 50 participants were chosen based on poverty-levels, single-parent families, families with disabled members, etc. They were each paid a daily wage of Rs. 950 over the course of 10 days, during which recipients would work to clear areas (i.e. roads, ponds, etc.) inundated by flood water.
“After the floods, the anicut down the road was clogged with debris and water plants,” Anoma says, “The stench was unbearable.”
“It’s been that way for as long as I can remember,” Asha adds, explaining that years of neglect had resulted in mosquito breeding grounds and bad odours spreading in the aftermath of rain fall. “There is a significant decline in the number of mosquitoes in the area,” Asha points out, stating that families would retreat indoors every evening to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. They no longer face this problem. The anicut was cleaned as part of the Debris Cleaning Activity, supported by the START fund.
Most of the participants were day-labourers and were unable to find consistent work due to the floods. “The money we received helped to feed our families, pay off debts and buy school equipment so the children could go back to school,” Anoma says.
“Because we were working for the greater good, the other villagers were extremely appreciative,” Anoma says. Inspired by the activities implemented, the community members who participated in the CFW project, have decided to establish a village-level ‘disaster-preparedness’ committee. “We want to be ready for the next rainy season and rally together others from the village for cleaning work and other relief activities. The ten days we spent working for the CFW project, proved that we are able to mobilize our capabilities and put them to good use.”
The two women were also participants of the training programme on Child Protection and Gender-based Violence in Disaster Situations and spoke highly of the workshop conducted. “I am a mother of four,” Anoma says, “And what we were taught, really opened up our eyes. There was so much we didn’t know.” Protecting children while in camps was an area of importance many mothers had overlooked thus far. The training helped them obtain a practical approach to child-safety in disaster situations as well as in day-to-day life.
“A few men from the village sat through the training and were educated by it,” Anoma explains. “We were able to share what we learned with other women,” Asha adds.
"The CFW project brought everyone together,” Asha says, with a smile. “It was good to work with people from the village and even better to know that everyone shared the same sentiments when we decided to use this experience to be better prepared for disasters in the future.”