Thursday, February 03, 2011

Hear my Voice ~ Bonsika Vadivel Vasanthan

Bonsika Vadivel Vasanthan ~ “Please bring my father back to me”

Bonsika Vadivel Vasanthan struggles to come to terms

Bonsika Vadivel Vasanthan (7) always stays alone and confines to a Brown plastic chair with flower work. The chair is bigger than she. She wears a pristine White pleated frock, which is the school uniform with Light Blue and White stripe tie. Light Blue silk ribbon holds her straight hair into a Pony tail, and wears a pair of artificial White stone ear studs. She does not mingle with anybody. She seldom talks or plays. She stays quiet.

"My father used to tell me a lot of nice bed time stories, before I go to sleep everyday. We used to sing a lot of beautiful songs together in Tamil. Now, nobody either tells me any story or sings with me. I feel very lonely as my father is not with me" laments Bonsika Vadivel Vasanthan while tears fill her both eyes, and pour down endlessly through her charming cheeks.

Her father got injured during the last phase of the war in Vanni, North of Sri Lanka in April 2009, and admitted to the hospital. But, Bonsika Vadivel Vasanthan has not seen her father afterwards. She moved from Bharathipuram in Vanni to Jaffna Peninsula along with the rest of her family members, and living here in a small apartment.

"I pray three times a day, and ask God to send my father safely to me wherever he is now. I am neither able to study nor sleep without my father. His wonderful memories stay intact. Please bring my father back to me. I want my father. Nobody can replace him. I have a younger sister, she too needs our father" laments Bonsika Vadivel Vasanthan. There is seeminlgy no end to her search.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Hear my voice ~ Jalajakumari Selvarasa

Jalajakumari Selvarasa ~ "I could often feel the nostalgia"

Jalajakumari Selvarasa is convinced and lives daily with hope

Jalajakumari Selvarasa (41) is very duty conscious in a bottle green traditional Shalwar Kameez. She sits at the entrance of the women’s side of the springs, and gives the instructions in Tamil to the devotees who visit "Keerimalai" springs in Jaffna district, North of Sri Lanka. She shows the way with her shiny smile to the new comers here in "Keerimalai".

Keerimalai literally translates Mongoose Hill in English. Naguleswaram temple is one of the five hallowed Lord Sivan temples (Panchcha Ishwaram) in Sri Lanka. Naguleswaram temple is situated here in "Keerimalai", which is 50 feet above the main sea level.

"I am happy to be here and help the devotees. It is a sacred place and sanctity should be maintained at all times. I am doing a small service to the community" says Jalajakumari Selvarasa while wearing a cotton cap to compete with the balmy weather here in "Keerimalai" .

Red vermilion called "Pottu" (dot) is placed on her forehead and pair of Silver toe rings on her feet show that she is married. A sharp line of holy ash on her forehead and a multi colour holy thread on her left wrist show her strong spirituality.

She has five children~ 2 sons and 3 daughters. She got displaced several times due to war. She lived in "Pandatharippu" and "Vanni". She currently lives in Alavetty in a rented house. Her house in "Keerimalai"stands still and empty with names written in English, Sinhala and Tamil and pictures painted in colour.

"Displacement has become a part of my life. I initially got displaced in 1983 from our house in Keerimalai, during the heavy fighting between the security forces and Tamil Tiger rebels known as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. My house falls under the High Security Zone (HSZ) in "Keerimalai".

Now, I get to see my house everyday when I come here for my duty. But I could often feel the nostalgia. I am looking forward to a day, when I will be able to live in my hometown again with my family. I hope and pray that, the day is not too far. I have a few dreams to come true, one is returning to my hometown and live with my family and serve the God"
shares Jalajakumari Selvarasa with her unambiguous hope flickering in her heart.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hear my voice ~ Velupillai Yesupalan

Velupillai Yesupalan ~ "My father is my role model"

Velupillai Yesupalan (16) seems nervous and unsettled as he waits at his school during the morning break~ drinks interval as it is called here in Jaffna. He wears a pair of Dark Blue shorts, White short sleeve shirt with the school batch stitched on the pocket of the shirt on left. A pair of his Black shoes removed and kept outside the library of his school.

Normally shoes are removed when entering the library, because it is compared to a shrine and considered sacred. Feet covered with a pair of Cotton socks upto his knee are fixed firmly to the Grey cement floor. He takes a while to settle down and talk to me. He is a Grade 11 student of Kondavil Hindu Maha Vidyalayam in Jaffna district, North of Sri Lanka.

"I do not have a father. He was killed during the war. I feel sad and depressed, because I am fatherless. My father is my role model. I want to be like my father, who was helpful to others despite many setbacks" emotionally shares Velupillai Yesupalan as he continuously bites his right hand finger nails, and tears pour through his both eyes and roll down quickly through his tender cheeks.

His family is originally from Thellipalai, moved to Thirunelvely, Iranaimadu, Vallipuram and Puthukkudiyiruppu due to war. They are currently occupying the station master’s quarters in Kondavil.

"My mother works hard to look after us carefully. She tries very hard to feed us with three meals. She is becoming old and finds it hard to do a lot of work. I have three younger brothers and a younger sister. Since, I am the eldest in the family, I have to take care of my mother and siblings. I am trying to study hard and pass the exams, but I get disturbed when I think of my dear father" continues Velupillai Yesupalan.

He rarely talks and plays with his fellow students and friends. He stays reserved.

"My favourite game is cricket. I used to play with my father. Now, I rarely play with my younger brothers. My dream is to become a school teacher" continues Velupillai Yesupalan as he adjusts the school badge on his shirt pocket.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Here my voice ~ Arumugam Varatharajan

Arumugam Varatharajan ~ "I want to feel 'belonged'"

Arumugam Varatharajan wants to spend the rest of his life in his ancestral house

The time is 12.10PM, it is lunch time in Sri Lanka. The scorching Sun shines bright in Jaffna, North of Sri Lanka. Arumugam Varatharajan (56) wrapped in an old Blue Sarong and wears no shirt as the weather is balmy. He is seen busy stitching bags at his small tailor shop in Kondavil~ Jaffna district. A ladies’ bicycle is parked on the wall. His shop also has candy, shampoo and pen for sale. A piece of used sack is placed on the steel pedal of his old USHA sewing machine to comfort his tired feet. A straight line of White Holy ash from the nearby temple still stays on his forehead amidst non-stop sweat, which proves he is an ardent devotee of Goddess.

"I left my ancestral home in Kaankesanthurai, which is in High Security Zone (HSZ), in 1990 along with my family. Ever since, I have been living in a rented house in Alavetty in Jaffna district. My ancestral house was destroyed during the war. I still treasure those old memories of living in Kaankesanthurai with all the relatives" says Arumugam Varatharajan while his fingers race with an old USHA sewing machine needle.

He was a farmer before the displacement in 1990, he followed his forefathers. Later, he turned into a tailor and began to stitch bags, dresses and footwear.

"My average daily income is Rs.500/=~Rs.1,000/=. I have some regular customers. I work 365 days to earn an enough income to look after my family. I have three children who are still schooling. I want to educate them well, and make them understand the human values which are currently being forgotten" continues Arumugam Varatharajan.

People visited their houses and properties in the High Security Zone (HSZ) in Jaffna district. Arumugam Varatharajan too has visited his ancestral house a few times.

"I am looking forward to go back to my house and live in Kaankesanthurai before I die. I want to continue with farming there. I feel being myself, when I am in my own house and surroundings. I easily connect myself to the place, where I was born and raised. I feel the 'belongingness' whenever I visit Kaankesanthurai, which brings the most happiest memories ever. I feel lost being displaced and living in another place. I am unable to fit in another place. I neither wanted to leave Jaffna nor Sri Lanka. I want to continue living in Jaffna with my family" continues Arumugam Varatharajan while his eyes get filled with tears, but he tries hard not to let them roll down his cheeks.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hear my voice ~ Thenuja Tharmeshwaran

Thenuja Tharmeshwaran ~ “I am always my father’s pet”

Thenuja Tharmeshwaran struggles and unable to forget the traumatic past

Thenuja Tharmeshwaran (15) waits with hope at the entrance of her school~ Kondavil Hindu Maha Vidyalayam in Jaffna district in Sri Lanka. Her eyes are full and filled with tears and roll down her cheeks while she shares her agony with me sitting closer in Jaffna, North of Sri Lanka. She wears a pristine White pleated frock which is the school uniform with Light Blue and White tie, her hair is middle parted, neatly plaited into two and tied with matching brilliant blue silk ribbon. Red stone circle ear studs add colour to her complexion. A White pair of shoes tightly tied and feet are fixed to the cement floor. She sits straight on a Brown plastic chair and makes instant eye contact. Her fingers are crossed and she keeps quiet most of the time thinking deep. Black round “Pottu” (dot) is placed perfectly between her two eyebrows along with sandalwood and holy ash on top decorating her smooth forehead. It shows her strong spirituality.

"I lost my father during the war. I feel sad and helpless, when I think of my beloved father. I always feel terribly lost after his death .He is my bestest friend, and I am always his pet. My heart does not allow me anytime to speak in past tense, when I talk about my father. Because I feel he is always with me~ he loves me, listens to me, cares for me, talks to me and watches me, although he is not physically near to me. But he is always dear to me" shares Thenuja Tharmeshwaran.

She lived in Vanni, North of Sri Lanka, which was formerly controlled by the Tamil rebels known as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam who were defeated by the Government security forces in May 2009. She got displaced during the war and stayed in the internally displaced camp in Vavuniya in Sri Lanka. Gradually she moved to Jaffna, and she currently lives there with her extended family.

"I have nightmares while sleeping, because I am unable to forget my father and the sweet memories. We used to play hide and seek and snake and ladder together. These are our favourite games. I miss him so dearly.I often dream that, my father is still alive somewhere, but it is not true in reality. He is (was) such a loving and caring father, who never failed in his duties. He attended to my needs and wishes whether he had enough money or not" her voice cracks down and tears begin to pour through her both eyes endlessly. She uses her pink handkerchief with embroidery to wipe the uncontrollable tears.

She is unable to get rid of the trauma of losing her father suddenly. But she tries to attend the school regularly, pay attention to her studies and pass the exams. She rarely mixes with the rest of the kids.

"My favourite subject is Tamil. I want to study hard and become a teacher. I want to make my father’s dream come true to change the lives of the people" continues Thenuja Tharmeshwaran with hope in her eyes and heart.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Anoma Rajakaruna shares her photos of people in black and white. Anoma has captured many expressions and many environments. Every photograph speaks differently. As a film-maker, photographer and poet ,Anoma has well captured the many moods of men, women and children around the Island. The exhibition is divided as My story, her story, his story and their stories comprising 34 photographs. [contd.]

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Internally Displaced Persons in Puttlam launch new Political Front

“We lack road, water, and housing facilities. Our children are unable to attend school regularly as there is no proper transport service. We don’t have any facility and leading the same life even now as same as 18 years ago”.

[Read & hear more]

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sri Lanka Public Service Journalism Awards 2007

The Public Service Journalism Awards 2007 was much-awaited event among the provincial journalists in Sri Lanka. The glamorous event was held on November 16 th 2007 at the Galle Face Hotel [Read & See More]

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Thoughts for Peace

"Peace is what makes us feel that we are living happily as humanbeings. No difference inside the nation in relation to language, religion, race or creed." - [Read & See More]

Monday, August 13, 2007

Commemoration Event Honours Life of Kethesh Loganathan

Late Kethesh Loganathan was a man of action. He showed his humanity. Kethesh was a committed human rights activist. He campaigned for the rights of the Tamils within the framework of an united Sri Lanka. He cared; and was killed. [Read & See More]

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Symposium on Indo-Lanka Accord Reflects, Reviews and Seeks Recipe for Success with Future Agreements

The Indo-Lanka Peace Accord was signed on July 29th 1987 between the then Sri Lankan President Late J.R.Jeyawardene and then Indian Prime Minister Late Rajiv Gandhi. It drew a lot of attention locally and globally. It marks the 20th anniversary this year. Number of events has been organized by various institutions to mark the 20 th Anniversary of signing the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord. This year also marks the 50th Anniversary of signing the Banda-Chelva pact. [Read & See More]

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Neo-Barrelism, The Exhibition of Paintings and Installations by Chandraguptha Thenuwara

Neo-Barrelism’, The Exhibition of Paintings and Installations by Chandraguptha Thenuwara was inaugurated on July 26 th 2007 at the Lionel Wendt Gallery. The exhibition will remain open till July 28th 2007. The viewing hours are from 10am to 7pm. The exhibition is organisd by Vibhavi Academy of Fine Arts (VAFA): [Read & See More]

Monday, July 23, 2007

Prayer for peace

Veemansa Bodhi Sanga Society organized a Prayer for Peace to create space for the people of all communities to talk peace. [Read & see more]

Friday, June 29, 2007

Symposium of Religious Leaders for Peace

The National Peace Council of Sri Lanka has organized a Symposium of Religious Leaders for Peace along with National Conference on Religions for Peace and Sri Lankan Movement for Justice, Peace and Reconciliation. It was held at the BMICH (Bandaranaike International Memorial Conference Hall) o June 28th 2007. Religious dignitaries belonging to Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity gathered to show their united support for sustainable peace in Sri Lanka. [Read & See More]

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Koiyaavaady welfare camp, Puttlam district

There are 136 families- 720 persons living in Koiyaavaady welfare camp in Puttlam district for more than 17 years: [Read & See More]

Nookkuraansolai welfare camp-Kandalkuda, Puttlam district

The Muslim community of Mannar was forced to leave from the home town in 1990. Most of them never went back to check about their properties due to fear. Some of them went back to Mannar during peace time after 2002, but did not want to stay long due to uncertainty: Read & See More

Monday, June 18, 2007

Shakthi Welfare Camp

June 20th 2007 is sixth anniversary of United Nations designated World Refugee Day; a day marked around the globe calling for focus and attention on the matter.

In Sri Lanka, the total number of persons displaced after April 7 th 2006 till April 16th 2007 is 301,879 - total number of families 81,399 according to UNHCR. [Read & See more]

Savukkady Welfare Camp

This is a very cramped camp with canvass tents put up next to each other. There are 1,920 persons-520 families living in this camp. They got displaced from Periyapullumalai, Sinnapullumalai, Pankidaaveli, Unnichchai, Kokkattichcholai, Vavunatheevu, and Karadiyanaaru. [Read & see More]

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Bus blast in Kebittigollewa

"The Sinhalese are very kind, and love each other.They would not have done something like this. They do not like to kill people. I have been helping the affected since the incident happened.It is very sad that we lost 64 lives, and more injured" says Jayawathi (40) from Kebittigollewa. [See & Read more]

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Youth in peace building

The Peace building and Development Institute in Sri Lanka in partnership with Peace building and Development Institute – International Peace and Conflict Resolution Division of American University has arranged a week long training on “Youth & Conflict: Integrating Youth in Peace building Training” at Palm Village Hotel in Uswetakiyawa: Read More

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Civil Monitoring Commission-First Public Meeting

"Please find my husband. I am helpless after my husband has disappeared. Do you want me to commit suicide along with my five children?" queries a woman who went in front to the stage, where the Opposition leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was seated: More

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Kirimichchai jungle

Cranes in Kirimichchai jungle - former no-man's zone in the East of Sri Lanka
More Pictures: Living with Nature

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Nostalgia for “Vali North”

“Vali North: Paradise Life and Camp Life”- A Nostalgia Story, By N. Parameswaran : Read & See More

Katpity Fishermen

Fishermen at Katpity, Sri Lanka’s littoral North West, near Puttalam: More Pictures

Saturday, March 24, 2007

“A Glimmer of Hope”

The South Asia Peace Institute organised a symposium on the Experts Committee Reports forwarded to the APRC (All Party Representative Committee), and the launching of the book “A Glimmer of Hope” at the JAIC Hilton Hotel on March 22 nd 2007: Read & See More

Friday, March 23, 2007

Nuraichcholai Refugees

"I was displaced from Mannar in 1990 along with my family. I have been living in Arafa Nagar since then. I had to leave my own house and belongings. I am living with my daughter now. I work in the agro filed which cultivates onion, chillies, and cabbage. I go to the field and earn Rs.150/= per day, which is not enough to manage myself" says Sabeena Zubair (54): More Pictures

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Colleagues welcome freed Journalist

Journalist, Parameswary Munusamy In front the Sri Lanka Supreme Courts complex in Hulfsdorp: More Pictures

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

IDPs at Maavadivempu

"We witnessed our village reduced to rubble,while we were fleeing" say the refugees from Vakarai: IDPs at Maavadivempu, More Pictures

Monday, March 19, 2007

IDPs in Kiran, Eastern Sri Lanka

"I missed my son Rajendran (44), while leaving Vakarai. He is a mentally retarded person. I am worried about him, and don't know his whereabouts" says Sellaiah Ramupillai (72), who is a farmer from Kathiraveli: More Pictures

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Sunday, December 10, 2006

International Human Rights Day

Right hand means dignity; Dignity means Human Rights.
Drawings on display by the students of Gateway International College: More Pictures

Thursday, November 02, 2006

“We can help people to contribute to peace and humanity”

"We can help people to contribute to peace and humanity" - Mumbai Peace Activists in Colombo: [Read More]

Friday, October 27, 2006

"Give space for life - Not for violence"

"We lost our loved ones in all parts of the country earlier. When people disappeared in Jaffna in 1982, we all kept quiet. We did not experience it until disappearance happened in 1989 in the South of Sri Lanka. Now Tamil people are disappeared in Jaffna and Colombo. We should not keep quiet about it. We have to get together and stop the disappearance" says Sunila Abeysekera, Executive Director of INFORM. human rights centre in Sri Lanka: More Pictures

Friday, September 29, 2006

Children's voices for peace

Jeyanthi Hemamali (11) from Matale sings "Smile While Live" a theme song for the Universal Children's Day along with her friends: More Pictures