Well, I have just returned to Colombo, and though I thought I would never say it, I am glad to be back! I was only in the east for 15 days, but Batticaloa has an entirely different feel and unfortunately, it is not for the better. The past several days has seen an escalation in violence pretty near where I was.
The LTTE and Sri Lankan Army have pretty much forgotten about the cease-fire and the situation has been tense. It is in this environment where people have to live and work and survive. I am one the lucky ones who gets to go home, but for most Sri Lankans, Tamil and Sinhalese, they are already home – amidst war and fear.
I was able to visit four villages while in Batticaloa and heard many great stories of survival and perseverance. I met with almost 100 women, most of whom’s houses had been destroyed by war or Tsunami, their husbands’ kidnapped, their families’ killed by war or Tsunami and regrettably many other stories of lives disrupted by disaster – natural and man made. They are still surviving and most are making the most of the training and help HHR has supplied.
Though the Tsunami will not be forgotten, the escalating violence is what is on everyone’s mind now. Fear with resignation permeates the area. Fear of violence and a sense of resignation that nothing can be done about it. The powers that be on both sides don’t really seem to want peace and as we all know, it is the least powerful and the most poor who are the ones that are the most affected by war. HHR is doing a great job with limited resources to reach these people.
This is the first time I have lived in a war zone and I will tell you though I am safe, (being a Westerner with an NGO is probably one of the safest places you can be) being in Batticaloa puts a whole new perspective on things. We can read all day about violence all over the world, but until you witness, it is almost impossible to capture the gravity of the situation.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I do know that a great many people are praying for peace, let’s hope God, Buddha, and Pillayar hear the prayers. Until next time…
Posted By Greg Holyfield (Sri Lanka)
Posted Aug 3rd, 2006