Sponsored families after the civil war in Sri Lanka

by Maren Kuchler, 2012/03/22

Palm trees, flowering Bougainvillea, hundreds of yellow butterflies. You bump along the red and dusty dirt roads not particularly comfortably, while monkeys jump from tree to tree by the roadside. However, there is not much time to indulge in dreams, as in the north of Sri Lanka you will soon have to face reality once more.

The wonderful landscape tends to make you forget about the terrible events and ongoing problems in the country. Photo: humedica/Maren Kuchler

Only little less than three years have passed since the civil war ended after 26 years. The “Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam” (LTTE), a group of rebels who fought for the independence of the Tamil north of the country, had to succumb to the Sri Lankan government troops. During the last few years of the war alone, ten thousands of persons were killed, hundred thousands expelled.

Now, a colourful hustle and bustle prevails in the streets. Even when travelling for very short distances, you encounter heavy machines, newly asphalted road stretches and numerous construction workers who work from dawn till dusk in order to build the new roads. The improvement of the infrastructure is one of the main objectives the Sri Lankan government is pursuing after the end of the war.

However, also the little red flags showing a skull, which are flapping in the sun by the roadsides, are part of the every-day scenario. Mines. According to UN estimates, it will still take more than ten years until all mines will have been recovered in Sri Lanka. Every few kilometres you encounter check points and army camps. The north of the country continues to be controlled by the armed forces, as the government fears that the LTTE might rise again.

Even three years after the end of the war there are numerous basic problems that have not yet been solved. Those who are often forgotten amidst all the busy development efforts in the north of Sri Lanka are the inhabitants. Many lived through terrible experiences. They had to leave their homes and flee into the unknown. They lost family members and friends, and some of them have sustained serious injures themselves.

Now, after the end of the war, many people have returned to their homes. They found their houses destroyed or plundered during the war, their property and their savings are lost.

Thawasine lives in a small house together with her family. Despite having lost both her legs, she is planning her future confidently: “After all, my head was not injured!” Photo: humedica

And now they are supposed to start a new life in these bleak and desolate places – full of memories they will never overcome. When we visited a family and asked the mother how she felt, tears welled up in her eyes. The experiences she had to live through are still very close to the surface.

However, besides the sorrow and despair, many families are gaining new hope. Like 25-year old Thawasine. Half a year before the end of the war she was injured during a bombing. Thawasine lost both her legs: the left one just below the hip, the right one at the knee. But nevertheless, she is a highly motivated young woman.

Since last year, humedica has been running a new Family Sponsorship Programme in the north of Sri Lanka. The target group are families in the Vanni region who were affected by the civil war – like Thawasine and her family. So far, 200 families could be integrated into the programme, and more are to follow.

When the programme was launched, first distributions took place during which the families could decide themselves which goods they needed most urgently. For example a bicycle, as many children have to travel long distances to school. Or water pumps or diesel engines in order to pump up groundwater more easily from the deep wells and to take it to their fields.

Some of the women chose a sewing machine. In this way they can sew the clothes for their own families and in addition they generate some income by selling the clothes they sew. Beaming with joy, Kamalini, a young mother in our programme, shows us her order book, in which she notes down all the orders she receives and her customer’s measures. Now she earns her own money and is able to support her family.

Kamalini chose a sewing machine at the first distribution, which she uses to earn an additional income for her family. Photo: humedica/Maren Kuchler

This is, however, only the beginning. The families still have a lot of other unfulfilled wishes and needs, from medical care via educational opportunities for their children and better income opportunities to permanent houses. After the many years of war they long for some normality in their lives.

Please help us to support those families in the north of Sri Lanka who are suffering from the consequences of the years of civil war. Assume a Family Sponsorship or support the Family Sponsorship Programme with a one-time donation!

Thank you very much, or – as the Tamil families would say – “Nantry”.

      humedica e. V.
      Donation reference “Family Sponsorships
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren
      SWIFT/BIC-CODE: BYLADEM1KFB
      IBAN: DE35734500000000004747

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