A Red Cross initiative to strengthen the livelihoods of Sri Lankan villagers devastated by the tsunami and years of conflict is showing early signs of success.
The first instalments of more than 700 grants have been distributed in Batticaloa district, in east Sri Lanka, as part of a joint Sri Lankan and British Red Cross programme.
Joha is using her grant to re-establish her livelihood – keeping goats. The 33-year-old was widowed three years ago and then the tsunami swept away most of the cattle and goats she depended on for a living.
“My uncle, who looked after the cows, died in the tsunami,” she said. “So, as there would be no-one but me to look after the animals, I have chosen to just keep goats.”
Joha is confident the programme is giving the right help to the right people.
“The money was given to widows, disabled people and the elderly,” she said. “After they got the money, you could see changes in the village.
"People started building huts for livestock or ploughing the ground for home gardening. I feel happy. People who are alone, who are old, feel happy as they can work and look after themselves.”
The grants programme is being closely monitored by the Red Cross.
It is not all plain sailing as 56-year-old Veerakutty Nallathamby discovered. He used his first instalment to build a chicken coop believing that his nephew would help him rear poultry again.
However, his nephew left the village, leaving Veerakutty with a dilemma.
“I lost my wife in the tsunami and now I’m old, handicapped and alone,” he explained. “I wouldn’t be able to look after hens properly, but I do have a little land to cultivate padi.”
As monitoring brings individual problems to light, the Red Cross discusses with families, like Veerakutty, the possibility of changing their livelihood.
More stories about our tsunami livelihoods grants
More about our tsunami recovery programme