The first project undertaken by the Commonwealth Housing Trust, very soon after being established, was to fund and build nine houses in Sri Lanka for people displaced by the tsunami in 2004.
Turning to a different Commonwealth country on another continent, they built accommodation for disabled children so that they could attend and board at a primary school in Gilgil, Kenya.
Nine New Homes in Sri Lanka
The tsunami which overwhelmed Sri Lanka on Boxing Day in 2004 led to an estimated 75,000 people losing their homes. CHT was a new charity and so not eligible to join the UK Disasters Emergency Committee intervention. Undeterred, CHT decided to sponsor building new homes for some of the poorest people affected by the disaster, working closely with the Surveyors’ Institute of Sri Lanka.
Local property professionals were invited to design and build nine houses without delay. This was a ‘hands on’ scheme, organised and supervised by professional surveyors who volunteered their services.
The project was funded by CHT and 100% of all funds raised was used directly for the construction works. The finished houses were allocated to applicants suggested by Sri Lankan contacts, with the applications scrutinised and approved by CHT.
Gilgil Township Hostel
Gilgil is a small township 65 miles north- west of Nairobi. It is a mountainous area and children often have to walk long distances to attend school. There are 900 pupils at Gilgil Township primary school, with a separate teaching unit for children with special needs.
It was decided to use our construction, network-building and fund-raising expertise to build a boarding hostel for them within the school grounds, aware that those with disability may not be able to walk, and if they can they are still vulnerable. Girls in particular run the risk of abuse and rape. The design, accommodating 32 youngsters, allows for future extension should the need arise. The children are collected by their families for home life at weekends and school holidays.