A home away from home
Most of the families residing at the Geekiyanakanda camp have lost their homes, nearly all of their belongings and are patiently waiting to be relocated. Yet their positive spirit is contagious.
Despite the hot weather and basic living conditions, everyone has a smile on their faces. Updates on the current living situation are enthusiastically shared. The camp is built on a sunny plateau, accompanied by a water tank, gender-segregated toilets and washing facilities. The women humorously mention how the male residents have renewed awareness of hygiene as they are now solely responsible for keeping their segregated bathing areas clean. Everyone has access to running water and the tents are connected to individual solar panels, which generate enough electricity for house-hold activities. Each family received a cash grant of LKR 20,000 from Oxfam, Sri Lanka Red Cross and partners, through ECHO funding, most of which was used to support their resettlement at the camp.
Ashoka lives with her mother (50) and young daughter (14). The thirty-nine year old works as a tea plucker and has had no secondary education of her own. However, she is determined to support her daughter to successfully complete the Ordinary Level examination that all Sri Lankan students sit for at the age of sixteen.
The residents explain how the cash grant were used to buy new household utensils and food. Ingenuity is a common feature among the families in the camp. Almost all the donated tents have self-made extensions, adding more space to accommodate kitchen utensils and sleeping areas.
Laxmi (39) describes how she used a mixture of cement and mud to make a temporary floor for a kitchen and small living area. Wattle and strong branches were used to build walls. She proudly points towards her clay cooking station, which she built by herself. The clay station accommodates 2 to 3 pots so that several dishes can be cooked at the same time. “I will be sad to break this apart when we leave,” she says, smiling fondly.