The monsoon season is underway, with its heavy winds and long rain showers. It has made life more miserable for tsunami victims who haven't been able to find homes of their own and are living in Weligama's temporary camps.
For Chathura, the rain isn't the only problem. The Sri Lankan army stopped guarding the camp he lives in two weeks ago, and security has deteriorated.
The camp was built by the Ministry of Fisheries in the Pelena neighborhood. Chathura and his father moved in about a month after December's tsunami destroyed their home, and considered it a step up from the camp where they had been living near Weligama's school.
The Pelena camp's temporary homes have a gap between their corrugated metal walls and sheet metal ceilings. When the rains started, camp residents tried to keep dry by sealing the gap with mats, plastic sheeting and even bed sheets. It has not been very effective.
When it isn't raining, the days are humid and very, very hot -- around 40 degrees centigrade (104 degrees fahrenheit). Fans aren't much help, so some residents have placed coconut leaves on top of the galvanized roofs. That has brought the temperature down a few degrees, but it is still very unpleasant.
A more serious problem is the Sri Lankan army's recent decision to stop guarding the camp, according to Chathura and his father.
The guards had generally kept order in the camp, forbidding the use of alcohol and not permitting people to enter or leave after 10 p.m. Since the army pulled out, drunks in the camp have become a nuisance and sometimes start fights. Chathura and his father go inside their small room when there are fights and lock the door. "We don't want to be a part of that kind of activity," says Chathura's father, a tractor driver.
There is also less water available for washing in the camp, because nonresidents have begun to take water that the guards had reserved for residents. "They just come in early in the morning and take it," said Chahura's father. "We don't have enough water to shower. At my own home I could shower whenever I wanted. Here, there isn't even enough water."
Chathura's father says that the government promised to rebuild his home after the tsunami, but has not delivered.
-- Sascha Gerbracht
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