Sri Lanka - reaching out

Thursday, March 31, 2011

by Arshinta, of the ACT Rapid Support Team in Sri Lanka

Mahiladythievu is a village affected by many difficulties. People here have suffered war, massacres, displacement and now, floods. In the midst of disaster, ACT is supporting work.

The area around Mahiladythievu has been severely affected for the last 30 years by war. Many young people went missing in clashes in 1986, 1990 and then in 2007. Several massacre in 1999 resulted in 89 people being shot dead and buried by the killers. Because of the violence, many families are headed by women and many households lost their houses more than once.

The operations of security forces meant people were displaced in 2007 and re-settled after eight months of being refugees in several places in the Batticaloa District. This also brought huge devastation in terms of life and property and many people went through severe traumatic experiences.

The flood in the beginning of 2011 brought renewed difficulties and many of the villagers lost their livelihood and houses. Some of them lost their sources of income and in particular young widows, children with special needs and elderly people become helpless. Most of the widows and helpless families were living in mud houses severely damaged by the flood.

The church in Mahiladythievu looked after 590 people at a time of severe crises and accompanied them for three weeks. The service was given based on need without any concern for their religious affiliation or social background.

"We gave shelter, food and protection. This work has been highly appreciated by the local government which gave the church the status of official welfare centre in the area," said Rev SS Terramce of the Methodist Church in Batticaloa.

Six churches in flood affected area in Sri Lanka are supported by National Christian Council of Sri Lanka/ACT Alliance to continue their effort to accompany 2700 vulnerable families into a rehabilitation phase by supporting work on livelihood, renovating selected mud houses and supporting communities to be more disaster resilient in the future by relevant trainings.