Making a House, or a Cattle Shed, a Home

making-a-house-a-home A cross made out of a dried palm leaf sits above of the main entrance to Vanitha’s home in Sri Lanka. Vanitha smiles as she stands in front of an uneven wall painted white.

The white wall is stained with soot and scribbles. Cracks run from its foundation up.

This house made out of mud was once a cattle shed.

When 29-year-old Vanitha got married, parents from both sides were not very happy about it.

When they didn’t have a place to live, she and her husband were given a cattle shed for their home.

Vanitha is now a mother of four young children. Her youngest, Paveen, is a 4-month-old little angel.

This young family of four sleeps on one twin bed, which looks very unsteady. But little Paveen was sleeping soundly as we sat down to talk with Vanitha and her husband, Isravel. Vanitha shares,

“The Child Survival Program is a blessing to us. I have received so much, I have learned so much, and I can’t explain how grateful I am.”

Vanitha runs outside to the makeshift clay fireplace and brings in their meal for the day. As she stirs the mixed vegetable porridge she continues,

“I didn’t know how to look after children. I did it for my three older children. But I just brought them up without actually knowing how important they are and how important it is to bring them up and teach them properly.

“Now I know how to choose good food for my family. I know to cook healthy meals, when we have things to cook.”

Suddenly, Vanitha’s face changes and sadness fills her eyes. She shares that they earn around 500 – 1,000 rupees ($4-8 USD) a day. Yet that is not every day, and some days, like today, they have only leftovers to feed their children.

Nallu, the Child Survival Program director, tells us that Vanitha and Isravel’s roof had collapsed a few weeks back.

“The family moves the bed around the house as it leaks, finding a place that is dry. They don’t have money to build a new roof.”

The house in front of theirs has been closed now for a long time. It’s strong and well built. This is Isravel’s parents’ house. No one is living there.

When asked if Vanitha and her family can move in there and live in a proper home, there is silence as Vanitha and her husband just hang their heads.

Rejection from one’s own family is not easy to take. Living alone is painful. Yet this family lives day by da,y thanking the Lord for what He has given them. Isravel tells us,

“We are happy. The Child Survival Program has made my wife happy and that makes me happy.”

Just then little Paveen wakes up with a loud cry. The whole family runs to the bed smiling, looking into Praveen’s eyes. Vanitha’s sadness is gone. Isravel’s sadness is gone. Praveen is special. Isravel shares,

“Because of Praveen, we are being helped and we know that the sisters from the Child Survival Program care for us. We do have a family.”

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