Batticaloa widows given empowerment training

[TamilNet, Sunday, 18 April 1999, 10:53 GMT]
Kunapalan Amirtham, 40, a widow from Vammivedduwaan in Vaakarai, 64 kilometers north of Batticaloa, told TamilNet today that she and her five children live on the 1000 rupees (14.5 USD) she makes a month by working for a charcoal maker.

Amirtham is in Valaichenai to take part in a three day program by Survivors Associated, a NGO dealing with people traumatised and pauperised by war, which began on Friday April 16 at the Valaichenai Hindu College.

Her husband was shot dead by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) in the hinterland west of Vaakarai while collecting honey in the jungles.

Survivors Associated has brought ten widows most affected by the war in the Vaakarai region for an 'empowerment' program in which they are trained to deal with the psychological problems of their children arising from the sudden loss of a parent or due to war trauma.

The youngest of these, Sivagnanam Perinpanayaki, 22, of Vammivedduwaan said that her husband died three years ago and that she works as a labourer to look after her two children. She is illiterate.

Twenty two widows from other parts of Batticaloa north are also taking part.

The widows are also trained in first aid, hygene and are provided advice about self employment.

The NGO said that its field workers in Vaakarai north are facing problems in carrying out their duties because the SLA has refused to permit them to take first aid kits.

Two of the NGO's field workers in Vaakarai north had been assaulted by the army at the Valaichenai fisheries harbour camp on March 16 despite being informed in advance officially that they were going for a workshop.

Survivors Associated is also conducting a workshop on stress management for field workers from other NGOs in the area. Dr.John Van Eenwyk, a psychologist from the US is training the NGO workers at this workshop.

An official of the Survivors Associated who has come from Colombo said that they the organisation is conducting this workshop because the problem of war related stress and trauma is so widespread in the district that Survivors Associated cannot deal with them on its own.


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