Colombo (Asia News) – Students at the Holy Family Convent school have expressed their closeness to flood victims in the Southern Province and war victims in the Northern Province, by visiting them and bringing them food and clothing. The flood victims in the south still live in temporary shelters or by the roads as do war victims in the north.
"To offer support to flood victims, we chose a village called Gorakawela,” school director Sister Deepa Fernando told AsiaNews. “With love we brought food, water and clothing. Normally, affected people remain isolated even weeks after [the incident] and we wanted to go to them when no one else does it."
"We wanted to give a hand to all the victims of our country,” said a student from the convent’s Outreach Association in Bambalapitiya, Colombo. With the help of the AsiaNews correspondent, we chose victims from the south and the north."
According to human rights activist Sahan Gonalagoda, the village of Gorakawela, which is located in the provincial secretariat of Pitabaddara (Matara district), was totally destroyed by 20-foot waves from the Nilwala River in Matara (pictured). The village was home to 360 families and 75 were severely affected. Fifteen houses were destroyed.
"We wanted to share our love with these 75 families who were severely affected. We heard their sad stories and helped them feel better a bit," the Outreach Association students said.
Sister Deepa said that they visited other 20 families affected by a landslide in the village of Morawakakanda. "All these families had nothing, only what they had when they fled."
"The very moving thing is that most people in both villages still live in temporary shelters. Some people are not allowed to rebuild their homes on the old site because of the risk it poses. But they have no other place to go."
"After going south, we turned north to share our love with women who have been demanding respect for their rights to life. We went to the village of Keppapilavu, Mullathivu district. When we arrived, the kids had gone to school. Some older people welcomed us warmly, thanking us.”
“Aunty Sarasadevi, one of the activist women, and Hindu priest Arumugam Velayudhapillai of Keppapilavu village told us that they were living in a very peaceful way and engaged in fishing and farming, and had no problem. Today, 182 families live far away and are fighting to return to their village, which the military seized and turned into the headquarters of the Mullathivu District Security Force. "
"We ask ourselves how the soldiers could do it. In Keppapilavu, which is now under the military, there were three kovils (Hindu temples), a Catholic church, a school, a communal hall, a library, a cooperative, a pre-school, two Christian cemeteries, two Hindu cemeteries and five common wells. Now the villagers live like squatters in temporary shelters in front of the main entrance to their village."
"After listening to them we shared our love by bringing goods, collected on Mother Mary’s day on the last day of May,” the Outreach students said.
Finally, the students said they cannot forget the last words of these people. "This is another war. During the war, we had to suffer a lot to protect our lives. Now we have to fight to return to our village, for our right to live."