“I am no longer an IDP” – Sudharmini’s story
Sivakumar Sudharmini was just ten years old when she and her family were displaced from their home in Jaffna . She remembers little about that time; not surprising as the year was 1990.
Today, Sudharmini and her family are back home in Urani, in the North of Sri Lanka, more than 25 years since they were displaced when their property became part of the military High Security Zones in the North. “It feels good to be back in one place,” she says. “We moved so many times since I was little.”
Her mother Devarani (53) is able to vividly remember those difficult days. “Moving so much with a young child was very hard,” she recalls.
Sudharmini also faced the same experience. Having married while in displacement, she had two children of her own and had to move a lot. “We had no money. When the children fell ill, getting treatment for them was a really difficult task,” she explains. She tried her best to ensure her children received their education even though they were so far away from home.
Now, the family is settling back on their land with the support of the Peacebuilding Fund which is providing temporary housing and latrines to returning families. With a funding base of $1.47 million, the project is providing assistance to facilitate the safe and immediate resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons to land released by the Government from former High Security Zones. The PBF is also supporting peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts of the current government, which was elected to office in January 2015.
To support her family, Sudharmini worked as a packer for a small coffee packing business. She still works there, although making ends meet is very difficult. Still, she has a home, for which she is very grateful.
“Once we moved back here, UNHCR facilitated the construction of our temporary home. It was a great help, as we could not afford to build anything for ourselves at that point. Each family even received latrines from UNICEF and soon we will have the water supply,” she says. Currently, the families are using the community water supply provided by the Ministry of Resettlement.
Now, Sudharmini and her family are looking forward to the completion of their permanent house, which has been provided to the resettling families by the government together with other development partners. “It’s nice how little by little, our home is coming up. The main thing is that after all these years, we have a solid structure to live in.”
Once her permanent house is soon complete, Sudharmini plans to use her temporary house to start a small grocery shop. “It’s a good solid structure. I have many plans and one is to start a grocery in the place we lived in since we came back.”
She continues, ‘Even in displacement, the UN helped us so much, and they are still doing so. I am so grateful to the UN for helping us to settle back after so long.”
“I am no longer an IDP. That is the happiness I feel.”