YOUR FEBRUARY peace mail from SRI LANKA
My name is Janarthan* and I am 36 years old. I grew up in Sri Lanka and during the civil war I faced army round ups and forcible recruitment by militant groups. To protect us, I fled my homeland with my wife and two small children in 2006. We became refuges in India.
credit: Ben Littlejohn - Act for Peace
For ten years we have lived in a refugee camp run by the Indian Government, where refugees are also supported by Act for Peace's partner, theOrganisation fo Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation (OfERR). We had our third child in the camp and thanks to your kindness, we received medical care and eduction for our children.
In the last year your genrous support has assisted my family to prepare and return safely to our home in Sri Lanka. OfERR equipped us for resettlement and helped my family with the correct travel documents, which would have been difficult to obtain by ourselves.
When we arrived back in our village in Sri Lanka, it was an emotional homecoming to see my parents and sisters after so many years apart. Our old house had fallen into disrepair so I made contact with the Welcome Group that was formed by OfERR to assist returning refugees restart their lives. A Welcome Group is made up of both locals in the community and other returning refugees. The Welcome Group encouraged me not to be upset but to get on with clearing the land and repairing the house.
OfERR’s Welcome Group also accompanied me to the Department of Immigration and Emigration to obtain a Sri Lankan birth certificate and citizenship for my youngest child, who was born in the refugee camp in India. OfERR have assisted in registering with the government to receive resettlement assistance and obtain a National Identity Card. The support from the Welcome Group and OfERR staff has instilled confidence in me to persevere with resettlement for my family.
I am so glad we have returned and are restarting our lives in Sri Lanka after living for 10 years as refugees. Now I am busy growing rice on my family’s acre of land plus I grow vegetables at home. In addition, I do daily physical labour work to support my family. My two eldest children are enrolled in the nearby school.
From my experience, there are plenty of resources in our country. If you can work hard with perseverance, you can stand on your feet without any difficulty and lead your life with freedom and dignity. Thank you again for your support in helping my family return home.
*Janarthan’s name has been changed to protect his identity.
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Please give generously to continue our life-saving work here or find out about how you can become an Act for Peace Changemaker.
With your help, Act for Peace’s partner, the Organisation for Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation (OfERR), is providing support services to assist refugees returning to Sri Lanka and creating a supportive environment for returnees by raising awareness at the community level for the difficulties they face upon return.
Through your support of community ‘Welcome Groups’ families and individuals learn to work together to solve problems and provide returned refugees with the knowledge and skills they need to access essential government services. For many returning Sri Lankans, this interaction with the Welcome Group provides a sense of belonging, a role in the community and an opportunity to help rebuild their nation.
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