Tuesday, 24 January 2012

One day in the north of Sri Lanka

I left Colombo this morning at 6 a.m. and we travelled via Vavuniya, Killinochchi over Elephant Pass and down to Jaffna. I love this part of Sri Lanka and my good friend Dr, Mahesh who is with me, lived here as a boy and knows it well.

I first visited the north of Sri Lanka in June 2010 when I first arrived to take up a new poosting with the Red Cross (IFRC) and I travelled with Tissa Abbeywickrama. Col. Madu and Barry Armstrong.

At that juncture, we were just starting the Sri Lanka Red Cross Post Conflict Recovery Programme (PCRP) and I recall vividly visiting villages in Kilinochchi where people were living in hovels or very poor temporary shelter. On that trip we handed out letters saying that the bearer would receive a house, water supply, a toilet and a grant for livelihoods.

The 25 year long war had only finished a year earlier and people were worn-out, still confused and struggling to survive. The Government was doing all it could to help and working with the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, JAICA, the UN and other bi lateral partners, infrastructure was being rebuilt after the region was totally flattened by a brutal war.
Barry Armstrong (l) and Tissa Abbeywickrama (r) talking to two villagers in Vivekanandam Nagar in Kilinochchi. Their makeshift shelter in the backgtound. Within a year they had a new Red Cross house. Photo: Bob McKerrow
The first house underway in Vivekananda Nagar July 2010. Today we have completed 300 in this village. Photo: Bob McKerrow

A year later, Sept 2011, Vimala Rani with her family at the door of her new houses. Photo: Bob McKerrow

Vimala Rani outside her new Red Cross house. All families get a water supply, a toilet and a livelihood grant. Photo: Bob McKerrow

Today we were back in Kilinochchi with Nadeka Arambewela (Australian Red Cross)
 right) with Vimala Rani on her right and three of her five children. She explained how her  life had changed with her house, water and sanitation and the livelihood grant she received.

Our two doctors and public health specialists Bhanu and Mahesh found a problem with the well and when I left they were still looking into it.
Thavarani who lost her husband during the war and badly disabled by a mortar, lives in Krishnapuram. Here she is with her three children 1 year ago outside a rough temporary shelter. Today she has a new house and the livelihood rant has enabled her to be self sufficient. Photo: Bob McKerrow

Arrived in Jaffna at 7pm tonight to be met by our team who had been surveying islands off Jaffna where families urgently need houses. The team is led by Nimal Silva 2nd from right. Tomorrow at 7 am we head off  to the islands with them.

Photos: Bob McKerrow IFRC


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