Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Bunkers to Ice Cream

bunkers to ice cream
A documentary that looks at the lives of the people in the northern part of Sri Lanka who are recovering from an over 25 year old civil war titled “Bunkers to Ice Cream” was released by the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society to the public at the 8th Asia Pacific Conference Red Cross  in Amman, Jordan.on Tuesday 19 October, 2010.

To view, try this link:

I have been getting so frustrated over the past two months with the lack of funding we are getting for 200,000 families without housing in the north of Sri Lanka so we got together with the Sri Lanka Red Cross

 and my good colleague Mahieash  directed this movie in Kilinochchi, Sri Lanka. It follows the lives of Arunachalam (left) who is a potter in profession and Ramaiya (on the right of the photo), an ice cream maker who are struggling to keep their lives and livelihood afloat.

The documentary based on the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society’s Post Conflict Recovery Programme looks at the hardships and struggle by both the main characters and their families.

The Sri Lanka Red Cross Post Conflict Recovery programme aimed at re-strengthening the lives of the people in the north of Sri Lanka victimize by a 25 year old civil war and to give them a push towards a better life.

The documentary produced by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies was also translated into Sinhala and Tamil.


From bunkers to ice cream

Here is some of the script to give you a sense of who the two main characters are:


Just few meters from the famous A9 road in a village called Vivakanandanagar you meet Arunachlam. Arunachalam is 51 years old. He is a potter in profession. Today he is spinning a pottery wheel, or more like his version of a pottery wheel to make some pots from the clay he brought from a nearby village after walking over 10 miles. By the day’s end he intends to finish at least closer to 50 pots so that his wife can sell it at the village market.

While spinning the wheel and making his pots, the grim situation that he experienced through comes to his mind.

Arunachalam is the father of 4. Three sons and a daughter, but today he’s just a father to two of them. A bitter past keeps him awake at nights.

In 2006 Arunachalam and his family lost his son while trying to take cover from a rain of bullets during the conflict. Since that time he has done his utmost to find his son, but to no avail.

Now Arunachalam and his family want to look ahead and work for the future. Building a new life has become priority for all of his family.

Currently he lives in a small shed covered with tarpaulins which is right behind his pottery wheel, where all his family squeeze in at nights for a cramped sleep.cramped up in the nights to sleep.


This is Ramaiya Chandrasekaran. He also lives in Vivakanandanagar. He used to be a baker for over 30 years. He has exceptional skills in icing cakes and making sweets for the people of Kilinochchi. He is a son of a Policeman who served the Kilinochchi Police in the late 70’s.

Ramaiya’s story is quite similar to Arunachalam’s story, in fact most of them has a similar story to tell.

His son Subakar was captured by the LTTE and he managed to escape. However the terrorist recaptured him and tortured him for making a getaway and up until today he is incapable of doing any heavy work due to the injuries sustained.

Irrespective of their hardships Ramaiya and his son are determined to work their way through in order to find a living. Today they make ice cream together in orderto find a living by selling them for 20 rupees at the Kilinochchi town.

In his house Ramaiya does not have electricity, no refrigeration facilities and no high tech equipment to make ice cream. Daily he makes the amount he can sellas whatever is left will go to waste during the end of the day.

Few months back Ramaiya had to travel to Vavuniya which is 90 kms south of Kilinochchi in order to bring ice cubes as there were no refregiration facilities in Kilinochchi. However today due to the development that keeps slowly creeping in; Ramaiya manages to get ice cubes from the Kilinochchi town.

After the entire box of ice cream set in place, Ramaiya makes his way to the nearest town to sell the ice cream for 20 rupees, merely 17 cents in US dollars.

Today is a good day, Ramaiya manages to sell a quite a number of cones, maybe to the fact that a camera crew is following him and appears to be a star in this city rising from ruin..

The Red Cross Post Conflict Recovery Programme continues to help thousands and thousands of people just like Ramaiya and Arunasalam to regain their lives and livelihoods and live in dignity just like everyone else in the island.

The owner driven concept has proven fruitful in these post conflict situations to rebuild communities as it gives the beneficiary the soul authority to decide on how their house or their livelihood may come up.

Giving a second chance to the most vulnerable people who were battered by an unforgiving war has been no easy task. Currently the SLRCS and Red Cross partners in Sri Lanka are pushing the boundaries here at home and abroad to bring in more support and aid to the people like Ramaiya and Arunasalam and many, many others who were victims of this ruthless war.

However in the positive light, these people too are determined to get up, and stay up and make sure that they do their duties as parents in order to give a better life for their children.

It is true that the past was gruesome to all of them. It is true that their souls are broken and the light in their eyes are fading away, but their duties as fathers, mothers and elders is not to find a better life for themselves, but to create a better tomorrow for their children so that they will carry the torch of courage and determination to become part of a peaceful Sri Lanka


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