In the Matara District – Thihagoda – NJ has 216 registered beneficiaries.
NJ prepared 160 packs of dry rations of rice, flour, dhall, onion, potato, sugar, Panadol, candles, matches, spices, tea, sugar, spices, coconut and bottled water. In addition cooking utensils were given to some of the affected families.
Of this 60 packs were distributed in the Thihagoda area.
As of 3rd June, out of 41 (Grama Niladhari) GN Divisions 5 are still under water with the overflowing of Nilwala Ganga.
Our first stop was the home of Mr. Chandrasena who lives in Kithalagama. Both he and his wife are polio afflicted. He is about 52 years with 3 children – eldest is 17 and the other two are below 15 years all 3 are schooling. He is the Disabled Peoples’ Organisation (DPO) leader and oversees about 80 disabled in 4 GN Divisions.
NJ with the help of Local government had arranged for Chandrasena to receive training in repairing bicycles and motor bicycles. This is the family’s sole income generating activity – repairing bicycles and motor bicycles in a shed attached to the house.
He has in turn now trained other disabled in the same trade and they are empowered to engage in this trade.
Police warning announcement was given for people on the banks of Nilwala to relocate to higher ground. Chandrasena says that as he was about 2km away from a tributary of Nilwala he didn’t think it would affect him. Besides during the 1969 & 2003 floods his home didn’t go under water. So he thought he was safe. However, within 45 minutes his whole house and workshop went under water to a height of about 5 ft.
All his furniture cooking utensils and his tools and equipment were washed away. Children are without their school books, clothes and shoes. He was in tears when he showed us his desk with all his valuables like property deeds and wrist watch now caked with mud and completely destroyed.
It was heart breaking to see him so stoic and gathering up the mud coated tools and spare parts that had got washed away some distance, some never to be found. Electrical tools of his trade lay in piles of mud. Our interview ended and he continued to painstakingly clean the mud coated and parts of bicycles and motor cycles with paraffin with a determined face.
We next visited the home of Nishantha who also lives in Kithalagama near the Nilwala river. Nishantha’s home is almost 20ft above the river and he said he thought they were safe, but sadly not so.
His home went 2 feet under water. Kitchen is completely destroyed, utensils and equipment washed away.
His two disabled sisters who need to be cleaned regularly couldn’t be moved to neighbouring homes, so he sent his mother to a home a little way above her home and on the way she fell and injured her ankle and we saw her with a swollen ankle needing medical attention. He stayed behind with his two sisters that could not be moved to higher ground and sent his wife and two daughters and infant grandson to a relative’s home on higher ground.
He reports that for two days after the floods he and his family did not receive even drinking water. On the 3rd day food and water was delivered by a solitary boat that came to their area.
He is a volunteer for NJ for 4 years – ever since NJ commenced working in that area.
NJ has obtained psychiatric help for the elder sister and assisted the aging mother with lenses for her cataract operation.
NJ has donated a cow to this family to help with income generating.
Crocodile infestation is another issue arising from the floods and Nishantha says that crocodiles were found in his garden when the flood waters receded.
As the sole breadwinner of 7 people Nishantha is wondering where to turn…
Our next stop was to see Mr. Wijeypala in the Galbada GN Division
Mr. Wijeypala is a 53 years old under heavy medication for Epilepsy. He lives with his wife and they are supported by his son who is a casual labourer. A huge tree had fallen just missing the main house but damaged some roof tiles. The kitchen outside had been completely destroyed and kitchen utensils and equipment washed away.
He is at a loss for words and stares at the destruction…. It all happened so suddenly.
Nadeeshani who is deaf and dumb relates the tragedy in sign language ….
Nadeeshani (39) and husband, Prabath (41) who are both hearing and speech impaired didn’t hear the neighbourhood commotion the night of 26th May about the flood water until they felt wet in their beds.
They live near the up and coming highway construction and because of this the whole area around the house is still under water. Their outside toilet is partly collapsed. The water levels had come to 3 feet. It was too late to rescue anything…
Prabath’s livelihood is to repair wrist watches and sadly the floods washed away his repairing tools as well as watches given to him for repair…
Nadeeshani is so overwhelmed that she is unable to contain herself…