Mr. Vanniyamoorthy’s family was displaced several times in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka due to the civil war. He finally decided to flee to India in 1990 where the family stayed in one of the camps in Tamil Nadu State. Mr. Vanniyamoorthy bought an ice cream business to supplement the benefits the family had been receiving from the Indian government.
Life was stable but he always dreamed of returning to his home town once the situation in Sri Lanka was safe and peaceful for his children.
At the end of 2012, with the help of UNHCR he returned to Sri Lanka with his entire family. The UN arranged the travel tickets and gave the family 42,000 SL rupees (C$356) on arrival in Sri Lanka. The family made use of the money to clear their agriculture land of 4 acres. They are now growing vegetables – chili, brinjol, manioc and groundnuts. They started to paddy but there was not enough rain given the drought the North is currently experiencing.
With the help of OfERR, the family has a new semi-permanent house with a toilet, along with livelihood assistance in the form of irrigation pipes and a pesticide sprayer. This has allowed Vanniyamoorthy to increase the size of his agricultural cultivation which has resulted in a larger crop and increased income. OfERR has also helped the family to register the remaining acres of land and are now waiting for the land permit.
Vanniyamoorthy is one of the returnees who has shared his experiences with his fellow refugees in India through a Skype meeting. In one of the Skype meetings, Vanniyamoorthy was telling some of his friends from the camp in India.
“I won’t say that life here is very easy but I am happy. We prepared ourselves before our return with the necessary documents which helped us to establish our identity in the country. This has helped me to get assistance for shelter and livelihood. On behalf of my family I want to thank OfERR Ceylon for their valuable support and services.“
Vanniyamoorthy places his hopes for the future in his children’s education and in a bigger harvest which he will sell to the wholesale market in Vavuniya.