Photo-essays Vavuniya District

We Lived Under a Mango Tree

  • 1
    My parents are originally from Ingiriya. It was because of the ethnic problems in the 1970s that we went to Kilinochchi. I was 7 years old. My father went back to Horana, my mother lives in Kilinochchi and I now live in Vavuniya.
  • 2
    We lived close to an LTTE camp. When the shelling started, the shells hit our homes, so we fled with our belongings in 2008. Then we moved a further three miles away, and this time couldn’t carry our belongings. Then we had to move from there as well because the children couldn’t bear the sound of shelling. We had no place to live so we lived under the mango trees. Here, my mother-in-law had a heart attack when a shell struck close by and died.
  • 3
    Then the LTTE started taking away our children. We have five children. My eldest daughter was taken but she escaped and came back. I took off my thaali and made her wear it. I put the red pottu of a married woman on her forehead – because married women were less likely to be taken away by the LTTE. Then to make things more convincing a folded a sari and wrapped it around her stomach so that she would looked pregnant.
  • 4
    It was around this time that I was struck on my foot and in my lower stomach and my brother on his arm. It was in February 2009. We were caught in the crossfire. We don’t know if it was the Army or the LTTE. When we made it to the camp, my husband and I got separated. An ICRC ship took my daughter and son. I was first at the Trincomalee hospital and then they moved me to Dambulla. Afterwards, in Menik farm I was reunited with my husband.
  • 5
    The Army took my older daughter on suspicion of being an LTTE member. She was sent for rehabilitation and released a year later. My two daughters are now in Kilinochchi. They are married. My other three children are with me and my husband works in a shop.
  • 6
    We got this land from Sri TELO and the house from IOM. We have a problem with flooding. We are being offered land where we used to be, but I need to be here to treat my foot. There are better services in Vavuniya. Here, I get transport to hospital for my treatment from the Church. Now we live with a few Muslim and Sinhala families. We live well together.