In 1993 the village of Kokeliya, in northern Sri Lanka, was almost completely destroyed by war. For these past 19 years the devastated people who lost their homes had been living in temporary shelters elsewhere. After the war ended in 2009, many people started to return to their village, in many cases, to complete destruction.
I first became aware of this situation as we were rebuilding the Thirappan Maduwa village, which had suffered a similar fate during the war. The area commander of the military, aware of our projects, told me about the Kokeliya village near by and the plight of the returning villagers.
I set up a meeting with the villagers and visited their destroyed homes with Brig. Napagoda. The people were very poor, had nothing, and were struggling to get themselves resettled. Farmers by trade, they were setting up small huts to live, in order to clear the surrounding land for farming. Despite their sincere efforts, it was quite obvious they did not have the means to rebuild their homes.
Although we were already very busy rebuilding the Thirappan Maduwa village, and our resources were taxed to their maximum capacity, I decided to help the Kokeliya villagers as well. We chose 25 families in greatest need, and made several phone calls looking for sponsors to support the rebuilding of their homes. It made me so happy when I heard that Rehan Perera was willing to sponsor the entire project.
The military helped to clear the land and prepare the roads that were broken. The government provided power lines and electrical connections to the houses. Although there were many challenging issues in completing the project, in the end we were very happy. Within 3 months we were able to build 25 beautiful homes with electricity, and roads to travel on. We reopened the village with a very special dedication ceremony.
There were many people involved in this project at many different levels. I would however, like to give special thanks to Rehan Perera for sponsoring the whole project. I am very grateful to him for his generosity and for coming forward to assist us in rebuilding this village. I am also very grateful for Brigadier Napagoda who worked very hard and provided many soldiers to do the extra work that needed to be done to complete the project on time. Also many thanks to him for organizing the beautiful opening ceremony which took place on June 14th.