On Wednesday we traveled 45 minutes out of Kalmunai to an area called Vellaveli where Rose is planning to start educational and support programs next month.
Vellaveli is a cultivation dependent area located on the border of the Batticaloa and Ampara District. Though Rose Sri Lanka does not work in the Batticaloa district, Rose came to Vellaveli after it was severely damaged in recent floods. Once controlled by the LTT (Liberated Tamil Tigers) during the civil war, Vellaveli and surrounding areas have gone through decades of isolation. This was apparent when we came across a broken bridge entering the village (see pictures below). Luckily there was a new bridge built that we could take, but during the floods, this was the bridge that the Rose staff crossed in order to deliver relief materials to people without food, shelter or clothes. Call it extremely dedicated or just plain crazy, perhaps Anthony and his team are little bit of both. It was also clear that the needs of the people outweighed the relief workers’ fear.
Even after the floods subsided, the needs in this area were vast. As a first step, Rose carried out a systematic pre-assessment survey among families in order to first develop baseline statistics of the population and second determine the most immediate needs of the people in this area. What they found through this process is an overwhelming number of widows and school drop outs in Vellaveli, particularly young boys, an effect of the civil war.
The purpose of our visit to Vellaveli was to meet with the Divisional Secretary of the Pallewatta District (the district that Vellaveli is in) to discuss the potential programs and workshops that Rose will carry out. This meeting demonstrated the importance of a cooperative relationship between NGO’s, government and multi-national organizations as we discussed collaborating with the Pallewatta Divisional Secretary who is working closely with the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme).
Using the baseline data and in the meeting, Rose identified the need for women’s groups, mother and child nutritional workshops and a drop-out educational support programs. These programs will start early May and will be the first of many RCSL programs in the area. Vellaveli is just an example of Rose identifying and addressing the need in a specific area while at the same time building strong partnerships with other organizations.