Franciscan missionaries “gift” education to tsunami and war orphans
by Melani Manel Perera
In an official ceremony in Trincomalee 2 thousand dollars are presented to over 40 children from different religious and ethnic backgrounds. Young mothers widowed of husbands swallowed up by the 2004 monster wave and over 20 years of armed conflict express their gratitude.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – They never met their fathers, swallowed up by the civil war or “lost” to the disastrous 2004 tsunami, while they wait for their return the dream of becoming doctors, teachers or politicians.  But they need a lot of help because their widowed mothers can’t afford to send them to school.  But now North-Eastern Sri Lanka, in Trincomalee, these children, Sinhalese and Tamil can count on the work of Franciscan missionaries and the National Fisheries Solidariety (Nafso).

In a ceremony held recently in the local Buddhist temple, Nafso gifted  40 fatherless children with 5 thousand  rupees each (circa 50 dollars). The amount distributed regardless of faith or ethnicity is a Franciscan donation destined to help in the acquisition of didactic materials for the small children.  The initiative was highly appreciated by the Buddhist religious leaders as well as the same families.

Indrani Deepika , 37 year-old and Waruni , 28 year-old two young mothers shared their stories with AsiaNews “ our children are always asking for their fathers and we are sad with no response still. We are helpless and  we are doing odd jobs to find our means. Today we are happy to have this financial aid. It will be a great help for us when the government has forgotten us”. H.W. Rukshala Madushani, a 16 year-old girl who is preparing her Ordinary Level examination, told AisaNews “I thank from the deep of my heart to the NAFSO and Fathers and Sisters for helping us in this great way. I have owe them much for this aid , so I will try my best to top the exam”.

The missionaries at the forefront of this initiative are Sister Marlin and Father Andry Litrigio.  Unable to attend the event they spoke over the phone to AsiaNews “As Franciscans , we have done our duty as much as possible  towards the innocent little ones, now all that remains to be done is see that these children get a good level of education. That’s all.”