L’expertise solidaire pour construire un habitat digne et durable pour tous

Mariamal in front of her house under construction

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Hello you live in the village? What is your name?
Yes I am from Rajakamangalamthurai. My name is Mariamal

This house under construction is yours? How many members will live in it?
Yes, this is my house. I will live in it with my husband and my son.

I think you have been consulted by a team of architects to participate to the design of your house? How did you feel about it and did you understand the plan which was showed to you?
Yes, they showed us different plans, it seemed bigger to me on the plan than now on the site. I am very happy with the situation of my house on the plot, it is facing the sea and next to the road. My husband has been injured during the tsunami and he is not able to go fishing any longer therefore I am thinking about opening a small shop in front of my house. I will put it there, facing the road and in front of my sit out

Do you have the feeling that you have been enough consulted by the NGO’s for the construction of your house? Do you feel you are getting the house you expected?
I have asked for a staircase to reach the roof terrace but I didn’t get it. I need it to allow me to dry the fish, the chilies...I find the kitchen too small and if the toilets would have been outside it would have been better.

Have you been informed that the budget is limited and therefore some choices have to be made?
Yes, we’ve been told that we could get a staircase but then the surface of the house would have to be smaller...Personally, I would have liked to have the same house but with a staircase! (Laugh...) Still, I am happy, today we are living in temporary shelter on the beach and I can’t wait to move in.

Before the tsunami, where were you living?
I use to live in a brick house with a thatched roof; it was as big as the new one but the level of the floor was lower which I didn’t like, I prefer my new house!

What do you think about these twin houses?
I would have preferred to have an individual house because I don’t want to be disturbed by the noise of the neighbors and the sound of their TV especially during my son’s school exams.
But we’ve been told that if we shared a wall it would allow us to have a larger house, so I am happy about it. I like the idea of living in an allotment, I feel more secure with neighbors around me.

Did you choose your neighbor yourself?
Yes, we agreed straight away. We are living next to them in the temporary shelter on the beach and we get along well...

Do you participate in anyway to the construction of your house?
Yes, I come everyday at the same time as the masons. I carry the water for the construction and I wet the walls to prevent them from drying quickly.

Have you been asked to do so?
Yes I’ve been asked if I could help...

Your house is facing the sea? Are you afraid?
Not at all! Today, I am living on the beach. I will be much more comfortable here on the plot...other houses are built closer to the sea... I like the idea of living close by my neighbors; we will be able to give each other mutual support.

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