Michelle Wright, Templeberg fellow travelled to Jaffna Sri Lanka. Here’s some things she recommends to do in Jaffna, Sri Lanka.
Last Friday I said a temporary goodbye to all the lovely people at Templeberg Villa and took a bus from Galle to Colombo to pick up my daughter who was flying in from Australia – a case of last minute Sri Lanka plans.
The following morning, we were up at 4.30 am and on our way to Ratmalana airport to board a light plane up to Jaffna, where we had a couple of very important missions to accomplish.
The first was to see first-hand the work of CandleAid, a Sri Lankan not-for-profit that works in the war affected northern and eastern regions. I was keen to find out more about one of their programs that builds libraries in schools and community centres.
Poompuhar Sri Lanka
After checking in to our accommodation, we took a tuk tuk out to Poompuhar, a tiny fishing village about 30 minutes out of Jaffna, to meet Vasuki who is involved with the libraries program, and to see the Poompuhar pupils presented with donated school books. Vasuki gave the driver directions to the school, and after 30 minutes avoiding pot-holes on a dirt road, turning up at the wrong school, backtracking and turning off down a side road, we eventually arrived at Poompuhar school. We were ushered into the assembly hall and onto the stage to take our place alongside the other guests of honour for the book distribution. The students ranged from year 1 to 9, and had dressed in their finest clothes and come in especially during their school holidays for the ceremony.
Once all the children had received their books, we were taken on a walking tour of the tiny coastal village by Vasuki, who explained the history of the village, the impact the war had had on its inhabitants and how they were struggling to rebuild their homes and lives now that they have been allowed to return.
We also spoke to several women who had lost several family members due to the war and who were now trying, with immense courage and determination, to earn enough money to support their families. After our tour, we were invited to the home of one of the elders of the village for a beautiful rice and curry meal.
Before leaving, we saw the site of the library that CandleAid is hoping to fund. Vasuki explained that this small building will not only serve the school students, but also hopefully be a learning hub for the local community, especially the women.
Jaffna at Peace
The second mission I had to accomplish in Jaffna was more personal. My favourite uncle was born in Jaffna 90 years ago. He left Sri Lanka for Australia in 1964 and never made it back to Jaffna before he died in 1993. His daughters, my cousins, know how much he would have loved to return to the place of his birth and asked me if I would take some of his ashes there with me.
So on our second day in Jaffna, my daughter and I explored this historic but damaged region and found two beautiful and peaceful places to scatter my uncles ashes. I am so honoured to have been able to finally help him to return home.
Now that peace has arrived, I hope that all the inhabitants of Jaffna and the surrounding region who were displaced by the war will also finally be able to return to their homes and live their lives in peace.
For more information on the work that CandleAid is doing to help communities in the war affected regions in the north and east of Sri Lanka, visit www.candleaid.org
For more helpful information about day trips in Sri Lanka please contact our team today.