Travel Reports


Sameer und Sakeer

We had found sponsors for both boys.  This time we had the opportunity to get to know the family a bit better, and were able to join in their happiness.

On our last visit we had met them only briefly and Roy had given us the details later.  The first thing that puzzled us was the date of birth of the younger one:  October 1st, 2005.  If the Father had died in the tsunami, how could this be?  With a little bit of math we figured out that it was possible and must have been especially tragic for the Mother.

Die Mutter

She had returned to her family in Banderawela after the tsunami.  But there, she was cut off from any help from the government and so she had to return with the three year old Sakeer to Hambantota, where she lived in a hut at a refugee camp.  She was supposed to get a house in one of the tsunami housing schemes but in the end she had to move to the World Vision flats.  The flat belongs to her but she does not have any written ownership as it is still not clear whether those flats will be taken down because of the deep sea harbor expansion.

As she had received a lot of food from other people during Ramadan 2005, she had started preparing rice and curry lunch packets for sale.  During our first visit to her flat, she was also cooking and she showed us packets of chips she made for sale.  As it was obvious that we were keeping her from her work, we made an appointment with her later that day.


And then we had to do some more math!  We fired questions at that poor lady as we simply could not believe the facts.

She is getting a monthly payment from the government of Rs. 250 (CHF 1.85).  Not for each family member, for all of them.  Along with that she is entitled for a dry ration (rice, lentils or oil) worth Rs. 360 (CHF 2.65), also per month and for the whole family.

The first gas cylinder was a contribution of UNICEF.  A refill costs Rs. 2400 and lasts about 40 days.  The cost of transportation to school is Rs. 800 a month per child and in order to save money they had bought a bicycle for Sakeer for Rs. 2000.

She was not able to quote the profit she was making for the chips by the bag.  She sells them in different sizes:  the big ones to shops;  the little ones to kiosks.  With five kilos of rice flour she would make about Rs. 450 profit;  and per lunch packet about Rs. 20.  Unimaginable, how the small woman had pulled her family through.

Die neuen PatenDie neuen Paten

So all you have to do is carry 10 kilos of flour to your house, produce flat cakes, fry them with peas and chilies, pack them in bags and bring them back to town and sell them – and you have the money for the school bus for one of your children for the whole month!!

Her main customer for the chips was a local supermarket.  At the beginning of the year the house where the supermarket was located had been taken down because of the fishery harbor expansion.  She was in desperation at the time.  Then she received the news from Roy that money had been sent to her.  When the money came again the following month, she enrolled her boys in tutoring classes in English, Math and Science and they would also attend classes on Sundays in Sinhala and Religion.  Her gratitude was heartrending.   

Both boys had been sitting quietly next to their Mother the whole time and had followed our conversation with big eyes.  We asked Sakeer whether he would like to show us his bicycle and after a short glance to his Mother who nodded at him, he ran off.  Five minutes later he returned, placed the bicycle in the middle of us and sat back next to his Mother.  It was in terrible shape without working brakes.

As we continued our conversation the boy was on pins and needles, pulled repeatedly at his Mother’s sleeve and whispered to her.  Since we had been asking so many questions it would be his turn now.  Whether there would be something he wanted to know??  After some more whispering the Mother had to speak out loud the obvious:  he wanted to know whether he would get a new bicycle?

  Of course he did!  The bicycle at the Singer Shop was assembled but had to be brought to a mechanic for adjustment.  We met there the next day and also gave him the old one to have it repaired and put in shape for Sameer.

The boys attend a Tamil School and both are a bit small according to their age and definitely way too serious.  We hope that there will be a change to the better and also that their Mother is able to relax a little bit.

We would like to thank their sponsors Christine and Bernhard, and Sandra and Thomas from the bottom or our hearts.

And once again, we would like to thank the Bank CIC (formerly Cial) that they transfer the money without any fees!  Each dime reaches the families in Sri Lanka.

Das neue FahrradMit dem neuen Fahrrad






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