Thevathason glad to be part of home building process in Sri Lanka
Whether he was forced to join the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) or because he truly believed in the organisation’s principles and values, we will never know but K. Thevathason, now 32 years-old, left his family to join the group back in 2006.
His parents, Kasupathi and Sammantha Murthi who originated from Jaffna and settled down in Thevipuram in 1996, thought they will never see their third child again.
“At that time, when someone leaves their family to join the LTTE, it is like a final goodbye, since it is known they will never come back alive,” his father Kasupathi said.
To support his family’s needs, Kasupathi’s eldest son joined his father and worked on their small plot of land, planting vegetables which are mainly for their own consumption. Kasupathi’s skills as a carpenter also came in handy but it was not a steady job with consistent income.
“It was barely enough but we had to live with what we had,” he said.
Then, in 2009, three years after Thevathason left to joined the LTTE, the family found out that he was captured by the Sri Lankan army and taken to the army-run Arunachalam camp in northern Sri Lanka. There, they helped him to go through a process of rehabilitation to assist him with reintegrating into society.
“We were happy to know that he is alive and that he would come back to us once he is completely rehabilitated,” Kasupathi said.
It took about 28 months for Thevathason to complete the programme and be released. He then went back to his parents in Thevipuram.
“There were tears in their eyes when they saw me after more than five years. My parents pleaded with me to stay back and take care of them as they were getting old. They wanted to see me settled down, get married and lead a normal life with them,” he added.
“My father is 70 years-old and mother is 60. I have been away for too long and it is my turn to take care of my family,” he said.
He then took over the helm of the family and started working as a common labourer to support his parents as well as his younger sister Thavalogini. As a daily wage earner, he was only paid when there is work.
“Later, I met Sabinnisha and we were married in 2015. Today, I have twin girls, Annesayona and Annesayana, they are now four years old. My parents and sister are also living with me,” he said.
Although he was happy after reuniting with his family, Thevathason was struggling with handling the family’s financial needs.
“Although we led a simple life, we still needed money for milk, food, kerosene and medications for my parents,” he said.
Thevathason said he considered himself lucky because at a time when he was pondering his future, LEADS, a Sri-Lankan non-governmental organisation started a compressed stabilized earth bricks (CSEB) yard near his house. CSEB are eco-friendly and low cost, used in many green buildings.
“When I found out about the yard, I prayed I will get a job there which will help me to earn a stable income. My prayers were heard, and I was hired as a labourer to manufacture bricks which will are sold directly to homeowners, at a reasonable price,” he said.
“I am happy to know that people are able to build affordable homes with the bricks that I make,” he said.
His job as a labourer at the yard pays up to LKR2,000 (USD11) daily.
“I’m really thankful for this job, it has helped to ease the burden. I am planning to save some money and buy a motorcycle. I also plan to grow coconut trees and vegetables on our small plot of land,” he said.
RYTHM Foundation is proud to partner with LEADS which focuses on sustainability in community interventions. Projects such as the earth bricks which we fund, is part of the post-conflict recovery process.