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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2673

‘Someone cares after all…’

On a humid October evening in 1987 a group of soldiers walked into the Thambanaikulam village in Mannar and announced that the village must be evacuated because it is too close to a military facility. Vinayagamoorthy rememebrs vividly the events that followed. That very evening they were loaded onto army tractors and moved to a welfare center in Poonthoddam. Since that dreadful day Vinayagamoorthy, his family and neighbors spent years not knowing what the future held for them. But, now he now breathes easy and feels confident.Now Vinayagamoorthy and his family have a house of their own.Now Vinayagamoorthy and his family have a house of their own.

“I never felt more confident than now. I am now a complete man’ Vinayagamoorthy said.

After twenty years of living in and out of welfare centers and relief camps, today he and his family are resettled in their home village in Thambanaikulam in the Mannar district.

After three months in Poonthoddam, they were all hurdled into tractors for a second time to be taken to another welfare camp where sanitation was poor. This camp ‘Jeevothyam’ in Mannar’ too had all the hallmarks of another temporary shelter.

There, the inmates endured immense difficulties such as thefts, frequent squabbles and a complete lack of privacy. Some were brewing illicit liquor and everyone had to suffer the consequences.

One day in early 2005, Vinayagamoorthy attended a meeting hesitantly which he thought was another routine affair. Some visitors who arrived in a UN vehicle wanted to meet those who were displaced from Thambanaikulam village. The news they brought with them was unexpected and difficult to believe.

The UNDP officers told them that they may be able to return to their village. The inmates of ‘Jeevothyam’ were rather cautious in their euphoria.

To their relief a few months later, the Vinayagamoorthy family and their neighbors were back in their home village in Thambanaikulam. The debris there was cleared and also the deadly mines. On 5th of October 2005 they were settled in temporary huts overlooking the land where their new permanent homes were to be built.

For one year, the diligent and committed community worked hard to complete their new houses and to set up homes.

UNDP was keen to actively involve the people themselves in their resettlement plans. The villagers came up with a list of needs such as internal roads, a community building, a cement block making center & other livelihood programmes to help build back their lives.

Now Vinayagamoorthy and his family have a house of their own.

Vinayagamoorthy’s wife Sivapaakkiyam also earns an income. Along with the other village women, she works in a rice mill in Thambanaikulam funded by UNDP.

Vinayagamoorthy’s daughter Pushparani works part time as a teacher while her younger sister goes to school. Vinayagamoorthy and his family now look at life with satisfaction and have begun to believe in the adage ‘someone cares after all!!’

Courtesy:UNDP Field Office in Mannar

- Asian Tribune -

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