End of the War: The untold story of the Child

First published here on Groundviews.

This war has taken the lives of tens of thousands of men, women and children. Hundreds of thousands more are displaced, and the abnormality of the war and post war situation is fast and painfully becoming normalcy to most people, some don’t and didn’t even live to see that.

Hundreds of children are being born into such conditions, by virtue of the fact that the Muslim IDP’s displaced in the early part of the conflict are still languishing in Puttalam, I won’t be surprised if a decent amount of these children born would die (possibly as adults) in the same conditions to which they were born to.

Studies suggest that post war trauma is conceivably more painful than the emotional stress suffered during war. During periods of war and despite the aggressive conditions that ensue, people subjected to these live in pain and indescribable stress. However, the hope that these abnormalities will diminish and normalcy would resume lingers on and this is a solace of sorts to those who look for solace in the most difficult of times. In a post war situation, when there is no conceivable military conflict taking place and the people continue to suffer in difficult conditions it is inevitable that post war trauma will tighten its venomous grip.

Because of its brutality, this has become the paradigm for traumatic experience, with the constant need for psychological and psychiatric help for victims long after its end.

My father was the architect for a project called ‘Food for Education’ by an Italian NGO. Thus he had to make several site visits to seventy schools in the Trincomalee District. In addition to the war, Trincomalee was also severely affected by the tsunami of 2004.

Due to poverty, lack of infrastructure, the loss of hope that school education will achieve little and for fears of safety, school attendance amongst children was very low. It was also known that malnutrition was rampant amongst these children. The project aimed to build Kitchen & Sanitation facilities in these schools and free food was distributed to students who attended school.  Thus this incentive helped mitigate absenteeism of school children to a certain extent in the Trincomalee district.

I joined my father in several of his site visits and I remember going to Trincomalee at least ten times during 2005 – 2006.

In spite of all the pain and suffering that was around, the faces of the children depicted a remarkable sense of resilience to the pain they and their families endured. These children coupled with the ready and mischievous smiles in their faces disguised the very painful story many a parent I spoke to in my limited Tamil told me.

There is now an end to a military conflict, and a year has gone by. And yet, there is years of work to be done in these areas to rebuild shattered hopes, dreams and society in general. These photographs can only attempt to ask questions about and to do justice to the untold story of many a child.

If not of most, this conflict didn’t manage to wipe out the smiles of all children in conflict zones. We must ensure that they never are, at least by planned yet hastened resettlement of all affected men, women and children.



Filed under kids, Sri Lanka

10 responses to “End of the War: The untold story of the Child

  1. I truly enjoyed the post.
    It’s indeed a time that most of us have been looking forward for. I consider my self lucky to have seen the end of this three decade long war. There was a time when my parents were on pins until i returned home, with some much of fear and anxiety, and now it’s over.

    Although the hard part is yet to come. Rebuilding the lives of the people who were directly affected by war. I believe it’s our duty to stand up and do something. After all we are brothers and sisters aren’t we? I think the government should make a plan to deal with the minds of thees people, they are really hurt and still can’t handle the traumatic experiences they have faced. I have been there myself and I am truly shocked to hear the stories those folk tell. I see a lot of potential there and we can’t just ignore it. The children there have so much talent. It’s time that we start acting.

    I’m really glad you wrote this post. I love the pictures especially the fourth one from the bottom up. Excellent stuff.


  2. These really are compelling and importantly, hopeful shots.

  3. Pingback: Pet Shop Boys “Being Boring” War Child (not TV version) | Child Benefit Online

  4. aufidius

    Me-shak – Cheers mate, yes there is a lot of rebuilding to be done. Ethics,responsibility, and morality apart, if we are to be positively selfish, we must realise that not looking after these people is only going to create social repercussions that will boomerang back to us in time to come and thereby stifle everyone’s progress. Anyway this is my photoblog , I blog on other issues at http://www.qudaamah.blogspot.com do drop by if interested.

    Thanks Sanjana appreciate your comment, cheers for dropping by!

  5. If I had a greenback for each time I came here.. Incredible writing.

  6. wow. you are a great photographer too. these made me smile, but with just a little mistiness in the corner of the eye. these are indeed the Sri Lankan smile i mentioned to you last night.

    • aufidius

      Thanks James! I intended to respond to this much earlier, but somehow it went past me! Cheers for the compliment and cheers for dropping by!

  7. magerata

    Thank you very much Auf, they are smiles of hope, as Sanjana mentioned. And you are a good photographer!

  8. Pingback: Children – happy smiles do injustice to their predicament « Tableaux of Aufidius

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