A free medical and counseling camp was conducted by the Centre for Holistic Healing on 9th September 2018. The venue was a remote village called Naval Nagar in Vaddakkachchi; a village situated about 18 Kilometers from the A9 highway from Kilinochchi.  About 8 kilo meters of the road leading to the village was in reasonable condition.  Rest of the journey had to be on an undeveloped and uneven side road. During the ethnic war all residents from the village evacuated their homes and fled to camps and other places for safety.  After being through horrendous experiences, when the war ended, they returned to settle in their homes. All homes, without exceptions, were completely destroyed due to bombardments. There was a contribution of a meager amount from the government towards the reconstruction of the homes.  Hence, even after 9 years since the war ended, many homes are only partially completed due to want of funds.

The community seemed socially and economically vulnerable.  Men were mostly involved in manual labour. As the village was considerably isolated, finding work near the village was difficult, if not impossible.  Many were uneducated and barely literate.  Men had to travel to the nearest city – to Kilinochchi or to Jaffna and sometimes even to Colombo in search of work.  As a result they end up spending many days away from home. Some resort to working in paddy fields nearby. There has been a severe drought for many months in the region. Most wells had dried up. The residents had to depend on just a few wells that were not yet dry.  Bowsers distribute water once a day. This is often not sufficient for all their needs. There were also complaints that the water sometimes is salty and not fit for consumption

A school nearby caters to the children up to GCE “O” Level.  For further studies they have to travel, for over an hour by bus, to the nearest secondary school.  There is doubt if there are capable teachers or adequate learning materials in these schools, as drop outs from school around the age of 16 to 18 were prevalent.  This however could be seen as partly due to lack of interest or motivation on the children’s’ part and partly to parents making them earn a living for the family instead of getting an education.  Focusing on providing these children with skill based education like basic courses in crafts, carpentry etc. would be beneficial.

There were incidents of suicide.  This was not surprising considering the trauma they have been through. Signs of PTSD were apparent in most.  In addition to the past trauma and the current challenges, the issue of missing family members weighs heavily in the hearts of many residents.  A young girl was taken away by the army on the pretext of suspicion of her involvements with the LTTE. Two days later the relatives were told that the girl had died due to shelling injuries.  Her body was not returned.   How could a girl within an army barrack be subject to shelling? No questions were asked due to fear of further retaliation.  This obviously is not an isolated incident.

A hospital nearby treats only very basic, simple ailments.  Hence most patients are often referred to the main hospital in Kilinochchi if further investigations are required.  As many survive on very limited income, it is often difficult for them to pay even for the journey to visit a hospital to see a doctor. When the most basic needs such as food and clothes are the priorities, getting the necessary healthcare is unheeded.  Also it is challenging for aging members to access health care facilities due to the long distance and other health problems that have demobilized them. Many had sustained war injuries; some to the extent of losing their limbs.

The Medical Camp on 9th September 2018 consisted of a team of 2 Doctors, 4 Nurses, 3 Pharmacists, 3 counselors and some volunteers who oversaw the arrangements and the smooth flow of activities.  There was excellent response from the villagers.  About 170 residents attended the camp.  Camps such as these take the medical facilities to the unreached and provide both preventive and curative treatment for common conditions.  People who rarely or never consulted doctors were able to, by attending the camp, have a health check and get the needed medical advice and assistance.  Depending on the importance of the issue detected, the doctors provided the patients with the necessary medications free of cost.  Some were referred for further treatment. Supplements were also distributed to the malnourished

CHH hopes to hold medical camps at different locations with the intention to reach more people among the community.  In addition to treating diseases, the camp helps to raise awareness amongst the people about nutrition and hygiene.  Other important topics covered by these camps include advice on balanced diets, significance of including vitamins, minerals, protein etc. in their diet.

Besides providing health care, medical camps present an excellent opportunity to identify the specific health issues in the region.  This results in the ability to provide better and more specific care to the communities