A diary piece by Bob McKerrow – Head of Delegation of IFRC Sri Lanka
I left Colombo this morning at 6 a.m. and we travelled via Vavuniya, Killinochchi over Elephant Pass and down to Jaffna. I love this part of Sri Lanka and my good friend Dr, Mahesh who is with me, lived here as a boy and knows it well.
I first visited the north of Sri Lanka in June 2010 when I first arrived to take up a new poosting with the Red Cross (IFRC) and I travelled with Tissa Abeywickrama who is the current Director General of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society, Dr. Mahesh Gunasekera – Snr. Programme Coordinator for the IDP Programme, Col. Sudath Madugalla who is the now Head of Operation & Services of the SLRCS and Barry Armstrong, then IFRC Head of Operations.
At that juncture, we were just starting the Sri Lanka Red Cross Post Conflict Recovery Programme (PCRP) and I recall vividly visiting villages in Kilinochchi where people were living in hovels or very poor temporary shelter. On that trip we handed out letters saying that the bearer would receive a house, water supply, a toilet and a grant for livelihoods.
The first house underway in Vivekananda NagarJuly 2010. Today we have completed 300 in this village. Photo: Bob McKerrow
The 25 year long war had only finished a year earlier and people were worn-out, still confused and struggling to survive. The Government was doing all it could to help and working with the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, JAICA, the UN and other bi lateral partners, infrastructure was being rebuilt after the region was totally flattened by a brutal war.