YOUR May peace mail from Sri Lanka
My name is Florina Xavier and I am the Regional Return and Reintegration Adviser at Act for Peace in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar. I have been working with Act for Peace for almost three years but have worked with our local partner, the Organisation for Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation (OfERR), in India and later in Sri Lanka for over two decades.
Sharni Boyall/Act for Peace
My work with refugees began over 25 years ago when I was doing my masters. I was doing my thesis on Sri Lankan refugees and visited one of the refugee camps in India to do my data collection. It was there that I decided it was my life calling.
Conflict and violence were no longer what I saw on television, it was now part of my life in a small way. When the war started in Sri Lanka in 1983, many had to flee to different parts of the world. The most poor and vulnerable came to India by boat. Even today, India has 107 refugee camps with about 60,000 refugees living in the camps and another 30,000 living outside of the camps.
Many refugees have now lived in India for more than 30 years and some of them were born in India. Many of the families are doing well – they have jobs, they go to school, they have access to healthcare. But they are still refugees. They have no citizenship, no voting rights, and no certain future.
A lot of the refugees long to return home to Sri Lanka. Sadly, many don’t have their citizenship documents or birth certificates because they had to flee their homes without their documentation. So, OfERR helps them secure the documents they need to return to their homeland.
OfERR is a grassroots organisation that is led by the refugees themselves. They’re revolutionising the work in the refugee space. For over 35 years Act for Peace has been investing in this organisation and building their courage – so much so, that today OfERR is even negotiating with governments. Through your ongoing support, OfERR is also preparing people in the camps in India for return and its sister organisation OfERR Ceylon are helping them reintegrate when they arrive in Sri Lanka through livelihood programs, education support and healthcare. COVID-19 has impacted this work, but with your support, OfERR Ceylon is assisting Sri Lankan refugees who returned home with psychosocial support, livelihoods training and financial grants.
I want you to know that your prayers, thoughts, conversations, advocacy and gifts – they all contribute and make a big difference. Every program we conduct, every health worker that meets with a patient, and every person who finds a job when they return to Sri Lanka, wouldn’t be possible without your support. And I want to pass onto you the gratitude from the refugees and the returnees. I implore and ask you to keep giving to this noble cause.
Thank you again for your thoughtfulness and love, and for supporting Sri Lankan refugees.
Download this Peace Mail in pdf
The civil war in Sri Lanka ended in 2009. Today, there are over 60,000 Sri Lankan refugees in India, many who wish to return to their homeland to live in peace and freedom and help rebuild their nation.
With your ongoing support, Act for Peace’s partner, the Organisation for Elangai Refugees Rehabilitation (OfERR Ceylon), is providing support services to assist refugees who have returned to Sri Lanka. They are also creating a supportive environment for returnees by raising awareness at the community-level about the difficulties refugees face upon return.
Act for Peace has been working alongside OfERR for over 35 years. Together, with your support, OfERR is providing healthcare, nutrition support and documentation services for refugees in India. Today your support is helping families return home. In the past year, OfERR also conducted sessions on helping prevent COVID-19 for 24,151 refugees, helping keep them safe from the virus.
Act for Peace gratefully acknowledges the support of the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).
Your support is making a difference!
$1,680 can provide a family in Sri Lanka with a temporary home so they have a safe place to live and a roof over their head when they return to their homeland.
• That refugees can safely return from South India to Sri Lanka
• That the government, service providers and local communities continue their support to returning refugees.
• For continued support and resources for OfERR in India and Sri Lanka so they can continue the important work.
More ways to take action
Remember someone in need through the Christmas Bowl.
By giving a monthly gift, you can help bring safety, justice and dignity to people around the world who have fled from conflict and natural disasters.
Give a gift that will make a lasting difference.