Sri Lanka 2014

Refugees International Japan visits refugee communities around the world on a regular basis so that we can see at first hand the kind of impact your donations have. We are used to hearing bad news from countries affected by war. However, the people we meet, who are doing their best for their families and their communities, always impress our teams. Their resilience is amazing. The programs we fund help them to rebuild their lives and prepare for the return home.

Background

After decades of increasing ethnic tension, the civil war began as a low level insurgency against the government by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 1983. After a military campaign that lasted 26 years, the Sri Lankan military defeated the LTTE in 2009, bringing the civil war to an end.

During the civil war, around 65,000 people were killed and more than one million were forced from their homes.

Refugees, IDPs and Returnees

Five years after the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka, the majority of those who were IDPs in the country have returned to their place of origin. However, an undetermined number of individuals remain in protracted displacement, unable to return home owing to housing, land and property issues. Although there has been significant progress in re-establishing infrastructure in the north, some returnees continue to face difficulties in earning a livelihood and meeting their basic needs.

In February 2014 we visited the districts of Killinochchi and Mullaitivu in the Northern Province. RIJ funded a project supporting the training of pre-school teachers.

The Preschool Teacher’s Diploma Course Support Program is designed to enhance the quality of preschool education in the newly resettled areas of the Mullaitivu District, Northern Sri Lanka by supporting preschool teachers in achieving their diplomas.

In the Killinochchi District, thousands of people have been resettled by the government in the last three years and most of the people I met had been living in the area before displacement but they lost everything, including birth certificates, qualification certificates and land ownership papers.

Some areas have developed faster than others and those who have moved in more recently lack support as aid is gradually being scaled back.

Within two days, we had visited preschools, women’s groups, livelihood programmes, community training and a psycho-social initiative.

For the preschool teachers, a diploma is required to continue teaching. The training has clearly been valuable as the teachers provided positive feedback.

In Mullaitivu, we visited two schools. The first school in Theravil is funded privately by the local parish priest and they usually provide meals for the children, but parents are being encouraged to provide meals due to a lack of funds.

At the second preschool near Puthukkudiyiruppu, children are being taught about hygiene as they ate their lunch with spoons instead of with their hands. This school has a garden that grows fruits and vegetables, which are included in their meals. There are plants with the child’s name on it and it is the responsibility of the child to water their own plants.



From the beneficiaries:

"I learnt so much from the training. Before the course, I would punish the naughty disruptive child, but now I work with them to understand and help them do better."

"I have been teaching for many years, but through the course I am learning new ideas from younger teachers. Our training was too theoretical, now we are learning more practical work."

"I always thought games and activities required money to purchase items, but now I am learning to use nature and there are so many things we can do simply."