IDPs and Refugees, Mannar, Peace and Conflict

A narrow escape and a great tragedy

I am the director of a convent in Madhu. Our convent was shifted from Adampan to Madhu at the end of January this year due to the heavy shelling & aerial attacks by the security forces. There were 25 school children with me in the convent in Madhu including 300 families also sheltered at the Church compound. The students at the Madhu Church used to travel in the bus that used to set off at Madhu at 7.30am toward Thadchanamadhu School.

On 28th January this year, I had to go to Killinochchi to get a pass. I told the convent children not to go to school in my absence. Only one student from my convent went for basketball practice. On the way from Killinochchi to Mannar, I heard that there was a claymore mine blast on a passenger bus in Thatchanamadhu.

This news was shook my heart. We rushed to Vellankullam hospital where I found dead bodies of schoolboys, most of them under 11 years.

The one student who went for basketball practice got minor injuries.

And then the shells started to fall again, forcing us to leave Madhu to Kaneshapuram.

  • D.Alan

    Since I read the news about the first attack on the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu, I lost my sleep. Although I am living far away from the troubled land. It is my heart, it is my love and soul. A few words, to say about the Shrine which, sheltered millions of devotees who had been benefited from her divine blessings.

    I recall my memories, as a fun loving lad after watching a local football match I got into the public transport bus to reach home before it was too late. Whilst standing someone pat me on my shoulder and I Turned to see, it was non other than Rev.Fr. Thiruchelvam, a Parish Priest. He asked, hi boy what you doing now? and I said nothing. He offered me a job as an office clerk in a place where I never heard and or been. I was very happy to accept, however I had to get permission from my mother and Father I said. After a week everything was ok and my dad who was a converted Christian said son nothing will go wrong and took me to the place “Madhu” . It was a long trip for two days on a train from my village. The then Rev.Fr. Administrator known as a tough priest accepted me for the job. Away from home and my dad and mom I felt lonely. The Father took me around the Church, I felt the warmness, and I felt very safe first time away from home.

    There I began my career. The church with some 114 built houses rented during the festival seasons (13 yearly festivals).

    The church is a miracle place for all people who came there to worship irrevelent of their religion, race or ethnic. Even people from India and elsewhere visited. It is to be mentioned that previous parliamentarians/ ministers like late Mr. Festus Perera, Joseph Michael Perera, John Amaratunga, all mingle with devotees with zero security. The houses therein were built and donated by all nationalities with no intention other than charity. All the Priests from Amala-Utpavam Jaffna and Nazareth Wennappuwa and nuns from all over the Country flock to help the pilgrims during festivals.

    It is a place of miracle, it is a place of console, and it is a place of love and peace. My knowledge of all three languages Sinhala/Tamil and English helped me a lot to greet the millions of people visited this sacred place. They all gathered on one vision and their aim to have love and peace. I must say that all the people from surrounding villages are of very friendly, and extend their hospitality to the pilgrims visit this shrine which is surrounded by thick jungle and a beautiful lake.

    After serving couple of years at the Shrine witnessing so many feasts and people and miracles. I left with the blessings of our Lady of Madhu for a better future on a timely manner, after which the north became the place of war.

    I do pray that the good times come back with the Miracle of Our Lady.

    – Alan-