Our commitment to hold regular medical and counseling camps, for the poor and needy living in rural and urban areas, took us to a rural village named Visuvamadu on 3rd June 2018. Visuvamadu is one of the regions in Northern Srilanka severely affected by the ethnic war. The village is situated along Mullaitheevu Road, about twenty five Kilometres from the A9 highway. In year 1981 only a handful of families, living in mud huts, were settled in the region. By year 1987 more families moved in to settle. A school was built and tiny shed like shops mushroomed in the region to cater to the settlers. During the final stages of the war all residents had to flee their homes in fear of losing their lives and their families. As a result, they became internally displaced.
Those who are internally displaced face a direct threat because they do not receive the rights that a refugee may receive and are not eligible for protection under an international system. After having been through much hardship in camps, when the war ended, they returned to their homes. All homes, without exception, were completely destroyed due to bombardments. Many lost their lives, many were wounded and some permanently disabled. Many lost their spouses and other members of their families, to death and disappearance. As a result, there was a surge in one parent families. In such circumstances women are forced to look for work in order to support the livelihood of their families, in the process encountering adversities of all kinds.
Those who returned were confronted with the task of rebuilding their homes, which they accomplished with great difficulty. Some men and young boys were taken in to detention camps before and after the war. After their release they were found to be lacking in spirits, physically weak and unable to perform even the most trivial tasks. They mentioned that they were given injections when they were in captivity. They were told that these were vaccinations for some diseases. They now fear that the injections may have been given with the intention to debilitate the men. This was disturbing information; more so because there is no means by which we can ascertain its validity.
The medical camp consisted of 2 Doctors, 3 Nursing officers, 2 pharmacists, 3 Counsellors as well as few other volunteers. There was already a reasonable gathering of patients when we arrived. The group of nurses were in charge of the registration of the patients. A general health check of blood sugar, blood pressure etc. were carried out for every patient taking into account important factors like age, life style, family background and risks. Following the registration they were able to consult a doctor and express their concerns and get advice and prescription for medication and refer for specialised treatment if required. All medications were provided free of charge. They were all able to speak to a counselor to express their concerns if any. A few who had serious concerns were given appointments for further consultations in counseling.
We consider the camp a success as more than 180 patients attended the camp. The crowd was managed in a systematic way to make sure people did not have to wait long. Providing awareness of early detection and prevention was our main aim. We felt a sense of fulfilment at the thought of having been able to help, though in a small way, a community that has been through much trauma.