Godawaya is a small fishing hamlet located between Ambalantota and Hambantota. About 187 fisher families inhabit this village. As a result of the tsunami devastation on December 26, the fisherfolk in this community too lost means to their livelihood - the one day boats, oru, nets other fishing gear and the 37 sheds that had storage and other facilities for them. Houses which belonged to three fishermen were completely destroyed too.
The villagers were feeling helpless and uncertain. The village temple-Godawaya Purana Raja Maha Viharaya, located on top of a small rock near the beach was their refuge.
The village was at a standstill for two weeks. In this uncertain situation ITDG in association with CEYNOR met with these villagers to talk about the possibility of initiating the repairs of the boats.
The villagers responded positively despite the prevailing dismal situation. The villagers not only had the will but the potential too.
There were fishermen in the village with the technical knowhow to attend to repairs in boats. The guidance and material provided to them by ITDG and CEYNOR helped these villagers to recover fast.
The villagers with a technical knowhow on fibre glass boat repairs were facilitated to learn the technical terms, fibre glass molding, assessing and estimating the repair cost and finally to have their own workshop to attend to building and repairs of fibre glass boats.
This process took off the ground within a very short time, mostly due to the co-operation and support from the experts available within the village. There was expertise available on fibre glass technology and engine repairs.
Dhammika, apart from his involvement in the fishery work, is also a mechanic, who attends to engine repairs of one day boats. Dhammika has a small workshop in his house.
He had been a radio technician while being a fisherman. Knowledge in electronics had motivated Dhammika to try his hand in engine repairs.
He had undergone a two-week training in engine repairs and fibre glass moulding at the Fishery Training Institute. Today, many of the fishermen from neighbouring villages such as Kirinda, Pallamalala, Tangalle and Hambantota get their engines repaired from Dhammika. Since, many of the requests are from tsunami affected victims, he charges only a nominal sum which is about Rs 750 per each boat.
For an engine overhaul a sum of Rs 1,750 is charged. Dhammika works with Sunil and Ranjan who attend to the fibre glass repairs.
Although their main occupation is fisheries, currently both of them are involved in repairing of boats. Ranjan has mastered the art of fibre glass moulding while working in a fibre glass factory in the Middle East. Sunil like Dhammika has undergone a two-week training programme in fibre glass boat building conducted by the Fishery Training Institute.
Today many of the villagers work alongside Sunil, Ranjan and Dhammika in repairing the boats. Assisting Sunil, Ranjan and Dhammika in this activity has been a hands on experience and a capacity building exercise for the villagers in Godawaya. It has given the villagers a new lease of life. They no longer wait for assistance from outside.
Some organizations have supplied boats to these villagers, which however do not suit their needs. The opportunity provided to repair and restore their own boats was more appealing to these villagers than being passive receivers of aid.
The guidance and facilitation provided for this community in Godawaya has helped the villagers to realize their own potential. Now they are no longer a burden to the country's economy.