Ampara, IDPs and Refugees, Peace and Conflict

‘I want a decent Education’ – A twelve year old’s plea

The field officer was on his usual rounds… visiting camps accommodating internally displaced personnel (IDPs). A young boy trots along and asks him what he is looking for. The field officer states that he had come to look into the welfare of the people and what he could do for him. The boy asked the field officer when this displacement would come to an end which is chaotic and scary. The field officer sat and listened to him……

The playful young boy said….. I am twelve years old and have been a victim of displacement. I am from Muttur and attended T/Ahathiyar Vidyualam in Kanguvelli. The conflict in Muttur displaced me from my original village and had to move into an IDP camp in Trincomalee. My family along with many others took refuge in this camp. For many days, I was playing in the camp with many other young friends and suddenly realized, I miss the normal life of attending a school. Playing all the time is a boring affair. I saw many children dressed in uniform attending school and had this urge to get back to school. I had no books or uniform with me, everything had been left behind.

After a few months, I attended a school close by to the IDP camp – T/Konalingam Maha Vidyalaya in Linganagar. After attending for one year, I had to change school once again and attended T/St Xavier School where I am now studying. This school does not have the facilities which my initial school had. The change in schools and the situation has greatly affected my studies. I now think how much I miss my original school, which with its basic comforts was my next home. I have lost my teachers, friends, my first home and the other home (village school) as well.

The camp life does not allow me to have my freedom. We are all together, cannot study and feel an outsider in this school. I cannot leave the camp except for school which is about one hour travel one way. There is a tutory close to the camp and I see many children attending for catch-up or tuition classes, I presume. I too need this facility as the present school does not have the capacity to teach us as expected. I wish I was one of those students attending the tutory, neatly dressed. I do not have a proper uniform to attend school either.

I do not attend school when it’s raining and do not have the encouragement either. I want a decent education and study hard as this would be my only way out. I just want to be home…. Walking to school… carefree with my friends… back in my village….

Can you make this possible? The field officer was lost for words.