|Former cadres starting a new life|
|Wednesday, 25 February 2009|
Situated about 20 minutes away from the main road in Welikanda, the Senapura centre is home to 74 former cadres who fought with the LTTE at various stages. Ranging from 18 to 35 years in age, they are mainly from Batticaloa, Vavuniya, Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi and Jaffna, and the programme they are following spans one year or more. Funded by the Ministry of Justice, the primary function of the Senapura centre is to provide these young people with the skills needed to integrate in society and secure employment.
Daily activities are completed to a schedule. Following the hoisting of the national flag and singing of the national anthem, religious observances are made. There is already a kovil and a church in the vicinity, and the ex-combatants are in the process of building a temple as well. This is followed by physical training. The rest of the day’s programme, which is a mixture of learning, fun and games, gets underway afterwards.
‘We are being treated well here. This is a good opportunity for us to improve our skills and get some kind of an education before we go back to join society. I hope to start a new life by returning to my family and continuing their fishing business,’ said one of the men who has been at the centre for several months.
The young people are taught four courses per year. Carpentry, masonry, electrical work and farming are taught for three months. In the near future, there are plans to introduce a driving course as well, which is said to be very much in demand. Mathematics, Sinhala, English, Tamil, Social Studies and General Knowledge are taught on a long term basis, while another subject of their choice in Aesthetics is taught in the short term. They may choose between music, dancing, singing and painting. In recognition of the importance of a sound knowledge of computing, the centre has already started training in this field. Officials are even looking at the possibility of teaching foreign languages to those keen on securing jobs overseas, for some of the young people who have graduated from the programme have already gone abroad.
School teachers from the area and from the Polonnaruwa Technical College come to teach these courses. Each individual is evaluated monthly and personal reports are made.
Facilities are also provided for informal education. The young people have access to books, television, cassette players and newspapers. To encourage interpersonal skills, the centre provides facilities for the ex-combatants to play games such as carom, chess, football, volleyball and cricket. Apart from games, they are also encouraged to participate in agricultural work, and neatly planted fruit trees and vegetables are to be found all around the site. The official in charge pointed out that it is the youth themselves who maintain and look after these plants, while their daily meals often consist of fruit and vegetables from the garden.In order to develop leadership skills, leaders are appointed for each task to be undertaken. For example, there is a leader for the library, watching television, the mess and so on. At the end of each day, all the young people meet in order to discuss and reflect on what they have learnt.
Nevertheless, the Senapura centre is up and running. The young people who once knew only the gun and bullet are seeing a different world. Having taken the first steps towards their new lives through the knowledge and skills learnt at the centre; they aspire to become good citizens of Sri Lanka, to contribute in their own way to the development of society.
Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process
|Last Updated ( Friday, 09 October 2009 )|
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