The end of March marked the successful completion of the Livelihood and Infrastructure for Family Empowerment (LIFE) project, an initiative that targeted coastal communities in southern Sri Lanka that were directly affected by the 2004 Asian tsunami, said the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).
The LIFE project, launched on October 1, 2006 by ADRA Sri Lanka, provided beneficiaries from Tangalle, Hambantota District, the necessary tools to start small businesses, including valuable information on financial management, vocational and skills training, and business counseling. LIFE also helped build 225 kitchens and more than 200 rain water harvesting tanks, conducted 315 health trainings and 7,200 house visits, and coordinated peace- and capacity-building activities. The implementation of a livelihood component created nearly a dozen savings groups among the beneficiaries, conducted vocational trainings, and gave 140 of the beneficiaries’ access to business entrepreneurship assistance and consultation through the Use-to-Own Program (UTOP).
Funded by Swiss Solidarity, ADRA Switzerland, and ADRA Czech Republic, the LIFE project was created to improve access to safe and adequate housing for 200 tsunami affected families in the villages of Kelanigama, Malgampura, and Marakolliya , increasing their incomes, and providing them with opportunities that would facilitate peace within their recently established communities.
In attendance to the LIFE project closing ceremonies were Mr. Laletha Wanigasekara, district representative-elect from the the Tangalle Municipal Council, Mrs. Priyanga Handunhewa, divisional secretary of Tangalle, government representatives from the three project villages, and officials from ADRA Sri Lanka and ADRA Switzerland.
“Many [non-governmental organizations] came to us after the tsunami and vanished just as well, but ADRA remained in the region working with the people and touching their hearts,” said Priyanga Handunhewa. “Today I have seen the faces of the beneficiaries and how their lives have improved.”
Before the ceremony, beneficiaries participated in an exhibition that showcased the skills they had obtained during the livelihood intervention component of the project, such as weaving, dressmaking, food processing, cake decorating, and more. Guests had the opportunity to see the goods created by project members, including baskets, garden pots, clothes, and spices.
“I have opened two bank accounts for my children thanks to the money I am making by selling food,” said Mrs. Mallika, a project beneficiary that received a gas stove, a small display stand and some pans from UTOP.
To ensure sustainability, ADRA also facilitated the planning of the Community Strategic Plan (CSP), which is expected to run from 2009 until 2011. The CSP is being implemented by the community, who designed an action plan with monitoring and evaluation, through planning, discussions, and decision making sessions, which led to establishing their vision, goals and objectives for their community.
“This is the first time an NGO is doing this here,” said Olive Orate, project manager for LIFE. “It gives the beneficiaries a sense of continuity.”
ADRA has been working in Sri Lanka since 1989 in the areas of economic development, emergency management, health, and food security.
For more details about ADRA Sri Lanka’s LIFE project, go to www.adrasrilanka.org.
ADRA is a non-governmental organization present in 125 countries providing sustainable community development and disaster relief without regard to political or religious association, age, gender, race or ethnicity.
For more information about ADRA, visit www.adra.org.