Story of an IDP returnee
TELLIPPALAI, Sri Lanka. March 17 (UNHCR)- Rajeshwari just turned 20 and she finally got what most of us take for granted, a roof over her head! A place to call home. After living her entire life in displacement, she was able to return to her land along with her parents last December (2015). “When the government released our land that was in the high security zone and told us we could go back, I was very happy. We came back to a jungle. Took us two months to clear, but knowing it belonged to us made it special…” She went on to explain how they received assistance to return “we got a cash grant from the Divisional Secretariat to clean the land and UNHCR built us this transitional shelter, which is our home now.”
Despite the smiling face, the circumstances under which Rajeshwari starts her new life isn’t at all that rosy. Her farther, who worked as a daily wage worker for more 25 years can’t work anymore. He has succumbed to the injuries caused to his hand as a result of shell bombing. Her deaf mother suffers from trauma that forced them to lose everything they ever had in 1990s, during the very first displacement of their family. Speaking of the ill state of her mother, Rajeshwari got emotional “My father told me that the shock drove my mother to mentally breakdown. As time passed by, it only got worse… she can’t take care of herself.” Both parents, ageing and frail, depends on the limited support, mostly in kind, by their two elder children, who has families of their own to support.
Rajeshwari is now the sole breadwinner of the family. She had not received formal education during her time in displacement and have no employable skills. Resilient and courageous as she is, the fear of what the future holds seems secondary to her. Upon returning to Palaiveemankaman North, Tellippalai, she followed her desire to start her own poultry farm. With the money she had saved, she had bought five chickens. At the moment, she earns approximately 200 Rupees (less than 2USD) a week by selling eggs. She is hopeful to obtain further assistance to establish a steady income (livelihood). Looking at them, she said “I have moved more than four times in my life and lived in many places. Now that I have our own place, I feel free. I can plan for more than a day at a time.”
Rajeshwari is a transitional shelter beneficiary of UNHCR under the Peacebuilding Fund Project for Reintegration Assistance for IDP Returnees 2015.