Australian Red Cross Lends a Helping Hand to A Tsunami Hit Orphan

Ajmeer Khan was a regular playful 10 years old, a grade 5 student of the Al Jalal Vidyalaya in Sainthamaratu. He lived with his parents at Hospital Road, Sainthamarathu in Kalmunai, Ampara district on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka. The Tsunami of December 2004 turned his life upside down; both his parents died tragically and his house was completely destroyed.

His “uncle”, the brother of his bereaved father, volunteered for custody of the child, his upbringing and education. He moved to Samanthurai, another village in the same district, and now attends a different school. Ajmeer Khan having undergone the trauma of losing both parents is slowly recovering and has made quite a few friends at his new school, Al Azhar Vidyalaya.

Even though his family home was completely washed away, Ajmeer Khan, as an orphaned minor, was deemed un-entitled to the government’s reconstruction grants.

His uncle, Mr. M.H.M. Haroon filed for his legal custody, and obtained a court order declaring him as the legal guardian of Ajmeer Khan. Accordingly Mr. Haroon, now the legal guardian, was entitled to the government grant to rebuild Ajmeer’s destroyed house. They have made rapid progress in the reconstruction; the house is now at the lintel level.

However the Government Grant of Rs. 250,000 was inadequate for the completion of the house. Having recognized their needs, UN-Habitat District office in Kalmunai, the implementing agency for CRRP Project, recommended this case to the Donor, Australian Red Cross, through the IFRC which was already providing top-up grants to tsunami affected communities in the same area. Through the participatory decision making process the Community Development Council also endorsed Ajmeer Khan as a beneficiary.

Top-up grants are aimed at helping the communities, who have already started the reconstruction process with the government grant. With this grant of Rs. 300,000, Ajmeer Khan will now have complete house, a sanitary latrine and a more secure future to look forward to.