This time I was traveling with Monika, an Austrian midwife working in Basel whom I had met as a client of mine.
She had been in Tangalle on the south coast only days after the tsunami with an Austrian NGO. This time she wanted to see some of the country and also, to meet Resla, an orphan from Hambantota of which she had become the sponsor.
There was not much change in Hambantota either. They had put a ribbon of concrete the width of one car on the road to the new settlement Siribopura. The dirt roads within the settlement were various widths, and all reminded me of these faceless American settlements with the same type of house, over and over again.
At least most of the houses now had tap water and electricity in, but there was still no infrastructure.
One tuk-tuk ride to Hambantota and back was costing 100 rupies. Some private bus owners offered transport to schools for 500 rupees a month per child.
So far 1,300 houses had been built. We also learned that people with undamaged houses would also have to resettle to Siribopura, as the development of the harbor would need more space. That was the reason why there had not been any changes in that part of Hambantota town.
We looked at a project from World Vision. They had built apartment houses on the outskirts of Hambantota town. One was completed and there were shells of two more. Thankfully, they will not go thru with their original plans to build seven of them.
In an area where hardly anyone can afford to cook with gas, the people from World Vision failed to explain to the people how to manage cooking with open fire in an apartment flat. They did not have one single application so far and I doubted that they ever would find tenants for those apartments.
While a lot of local people on the west coast “earned” quite a good income from caring for tourists, many people in Hambantota still lived in their 16 square meter wooden shacks – away from the main tourist tracks.
That they preferred to live in the shacks instead of the apartments was a fact that could have been found out easily by World Vision.
The reconstruction of the fishery harbor was on the way and there were plans for a deep water harbor a few kilometers from Hambantota.
The army airport in Wirawila, a couple of kilometers inland (from Hambantota) was supposed to become the second international airport of the country.
These were big plans for a very poor stretch of the country. Investors were mainly Japan, China and Korea. (will the USA like that?)