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srilankanorthhousededicationceremonyspeach_20120330.jpg On March 19th, Habitat Japan held a house dedication ceremony for 70 new houses in Vaddakandal village of northern Sri Lanka. Under clear blue skies Habitat supporters, district and village mayors and 70 new homeowners came together to celebrate this achievement.    As part of the ceremony, a representative of Habitat Japan congratulated all the homeowners on their own sweat equity contribution to the construction of their new homes, saying, "We'd like each of the families to use these houses as the first step towards independence" (photo, right).
srilankanorthhousededicationceremonytapecut_20120330.jpgThen the district mayor gave a message, speaking of the importance of continuous support for people who wish to improve their lives, and of the need for villagers to work and live even more closely as a community in the future. He also pledged to continue working with Habitat Japan to support recovery in the village.  
Following the speeches, ceremonial tape cutting was held at each house (photo, below right). On receiving his key, Razak, a homeowner, left a deep impression on everyone when he said, "I'm so happy, not just because I was able to return to the village, but also because I am reunited with old friends and acquaintances who were scattered during the civil war, and in this wonderful house we will finally be able to live in safety."
Anton (District Mayor)
"The Habitat's Core Houses provide safety and privacy, as well as potential for later expansion. They have enough space for a family of 3-5 people, and don't look small at all - it's a really great design. The people who returned here found nothing but a wasteland with no shelters. Now that they have a house, they can live their lives without that hardship. Furthermore, the construction of these houses is helping this village as a community to change. This month one part of the village received electrical power. It has been installed because now we have a community with people living in it. More infrastructures will be installed in near future. Building houses means to rebuild the whole village as one community."
Nazeer and Iswaraja (Heads masons)
Nazeer: "This village is my home, so this meant to rebuild my own hometown. Looking at completed houses, I can see the great efforts and the results of the villagers and masons working alongside one another. I am very proud." 
Iswaraja (photo, left): "We've experienced some problems, like deliveries delayed by rain, but that has been balanced out by the excellent support amongst the homeowners themselves. We've also been able to work well together as masons. Now, seeing all these families moving into their new homes, my heart is filled with joy."
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