You only had to compare a picture from last November with the actual picture of Sifaya taken during this visit, to tell that she was doing well.
short after the tsunami in the refugee camp one year later
Also, her Father who was the first one we met at the refugee camp was looking years younger. He was visiting there. I barely needed to ask him to pose for a photograph and he did me the favor, very proud with the helmet on his head.
About half of the shacks were still occupied, the others had been removed and the wood had been used for other purposes. Therefore, there was some more space in the refugee camp.
We visited Sifaya in her new house in Siribopura. Her father did go ahead of us to let her know that we were coming. She had planted some flowers in the front yard and had also built a little shop with the wood from the refugee camp shack.
There was not much change in the house itself. When she had tried to hammer nails into the window frame to attach curtains, the whole frame had fallen out of the house. Her father had mended that. When it rained in the evening, the water would drip through the roof at various places!
Back in November I had tried to contact the representatives from SLAASC who had built Sifaya’s house. There was no response whatsoever. All that happened was that their homepage was removed from the net. As I had the private address of the President of that organization, I sent him a postcard from Hambantota with my e-mail address. I did not have much hope that he would contact me though. As it was most probably not legal for the webmaster to give me that address, I did not take further actions.
On our second visit to Sifaya’s house, her parents again raised the topic of getting Sifaya remarried. There was a proposal from a tsunami widower with a 12 year old daughter and an 8 year old son. The proposal had been made one month before and he would not wait forever. As a widow with two little girls, she considered herself very lucky to get a proposal from a good man.
The talking was done by the father; the mother was repeating with teary eyes her arguments; and Sifaya was quite embarrassed by the whole discussion. Victor our driver did the translation.
There was also a neighbor with his wife involved in the discussion. He was quite fluent in English and as we learned later, the intercessor for the groom to be.
He himself had become a widower in the tsunami as well as his new wife. It would have been the most convenient thing for both of them to remarry each other. His wife agreed vividly by nodding her head.
Well, car pools are very convenient also………………..
Sifaya herself did not say much besides the remark that he was very nice to her kids. I was quite puzzled to learn that she had not exchanged one personal word with him so far
At least I was familiar with the custom that no decision is rushed in Sri Lanka, and I promised to think it over.
The neighbor told us some more about the proposer’s amenities. He would be a hard working man earning a living as a tuk-tuk driver. No, he did not own that tuk-tuk, but he did own a lot of craftsman tools. He also had been a very good husband to his first wife, buying her jewelry and clothes. Well, if those were not good arguments………
I asked Faye to contact Sifaya by phone to get her personal opinion. The outcome was not surprising.
As much as she new, he would be a nice man treating her children well and sooner or later, she had to get remarried anyway. She had proposals from men the age of her Father and in her situation there was hardly a better offer coming up.
Her parents wanted to move back to their own home and there would be no way to live on her own, as the people already had started to talk about her.
The ultimate highlight of this affair was Roy`s offer, to introduce “my” potential “son-in-law” to me, in person and he arranged a meeting for that evening.
Sifaya arrived in her best clothes with her Mother and the bigger daughter. They were inside the house answering questions from Roy`s sister-in-laws. Roy interviewed the proposer with his intercessor in front of the house.
At the time they finally came into the house, Sifaya did not lift her eyes from her shoes anymore. The proposer held his hand in front of his mouth and giggled like a schoolgirl. From that point on, the talking was done by the intercessor and Sifaya’s Mother.
Faye almost cracked up as I told her about the meeting later on. Some customs in that country will never make much sense to me…………….
He would move to Sifaya’s house, despite the fact that he had a much better house from another organization. There were attachments like little shops not allowed at his; and in order to get ownership of her house, she had to inhabit it herself for a period of ten years.
Therefore, we set aside any plans to build her a house on the lot of land she owned at the lagoon.
His children from the first marriage were in the care of his Mother and would stay there. Therefore, he would have to support two families.
My wedding present to her was potatoes, onions, rice, lentils, tea, milk powder, detergent, soap, spices and other miscellaneous for her shop and I wished her all the best. One week later she was married.
We will continue our support for her and make further decisions in November.