Danish Refugee Council assists resettled Swamimalai villagers

[TamilNet, Monday, 07 June 2004, 00:02 GMT]
The Trincomalee District Development Association (TDDA) under its Integrated Rehabilitation Programme (IRP) with the funding of the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) has provided infrastructure facilities to the resettled Tamil village, Swamimalai, in Thampalakamam Divisional Secretariat division. Swamimalai is located along Trincomalee-Kandy highway, about 24 km northwest off east port town.

Danish Refugee Council
The name board of the Swamimalai Integrated Rehabilitation Programme of Trincomalee District Development Association (TDDA)
A community centre hall, three by-roads and a pipe borne water supply scheme constructed at a cost of about 3 million rupees by the TDDA were declared open Saturday in Swamimalai village.

The Secretary General of the Danish Refugees Council Mr.Andreas Kamm declared open the Koneswara Community Centre Hall. Thampalakamam Divisional Secretary Mr.V.Yoosuf the three by-roads and Mr.T.Thavasilingam, Chairman of the Consortium of Trincomalee District Non-Governmental Organizations the pipe-borne water supply scheme. The Trincomalee District Additional Government Agent Mr.N.Singarayaer unveiled the name board of the Swamimalai rehabilitation scheme.

A playground has also been constructed for the children of resettled families. Mr. Chris Rush, Protection Advisor of the DRC based in Vavuniya and his wife Ms Gosia Rush jointly opened the playground.

Deputy Chairman of the DRC Executive Community in Denmark Mr. Rasmus Hylleverg also participated in the event.

The guests first attended poojahs at the Swamimalai Pilliayar temple. Thereafter they were taken in a procession to the newly built Koneswara Community Centre Hall where a meeting was held to mark the event, sources said.

Danish Refugee Council
DRC Secretary General Mr.Andreas Kamm with Mr.P.Kandasamy, Secretary of TDDA witnessing a dance in the event
Danish Refugee Council
( L-R ) DRC Secretary General Mr.Andreas Kamm, DRC Deputy Chairman Mr.Rasmus Hylleverg

Swamimalai is an ancient Tamil village linked with the historical Trincomalee Koneswaram Temple. When Portuguese destroyed the Trincomalee Koneswaram Temple 480 years ago, in AD 1624, priests and religious workers fled from Trincomalee town taking valuable statues from the destroyed temple for safety. They dumped those statues in several places far away from the Koneswaram Temple and one of the statues was hidden in Swamimalai.

Later the hidden statue in Swamimalai was taken out and was installed in a temple in Thampalakamam village and named the temple Aathi Koneswarar Temple, historical records say.

Danish Refugee Council
Children of resettled families attend the meeting in the new community hall

About fifty-three Tamil families lived in this village before 1983 ethnic disturbances. Majority families fled from this village in 1983. When violence decreased many villagers returned to their former homes. The entire village fled again in 1990 violence, said Mr.P.Kandasamy, Secretary of the TDDA.

With the ceasefire signed between the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), 19 internally displaced families returned to the village. The rest of the IDPs are yet to return, he said

The TDDA launched an rehabilitation project funded by the Danish refugees Council to provide infrastructure facilities to the village such as renovating damaged roads and providing pipe borne water supply to the resettled families. The TDA also constructed a multi-purpose hall and named it Koneswara Community Centre Hall, sources said

Roads were renovated at a cost 400,000 rupees and water supply scheme was established at a cost 706, 535 rupees, sources said.

Danish Refugee Council
Children of resettled families waiting for the guests
Danish Refugee Council
A resettled family's house and compound in Swamimalai

Danish Refugee Council
Mr and Mrs Rush open the playground for children of IDP families
Danish Refugee Council
(L-R) Ms Gosia Rush, DRC Protection Advisor Mr. Chris Rush, DRC Deputy Chairman Mr.Rasmus Hylleverg, Thampalakamam Divisional Secretary Mr.V.Yoosuf, DRC Secretary General Mr.Andreas Kamm and Mr.S.Luxmanan, President, TDDA ( Mr.Rasmus, Mr.Yoosuf and Mr.Andreas Kamm with golden shawls)

Majority of resettled families now live in cadjan huts and action is being taken to provide them with brick-built houses, sources said.

Mr.T.Thavasilingam said the TDDA, which was formed in 1983 for providing relief to the affected people in the conflict, has been now engaged in rehabilitation of IDP families and developing the war-affected villages.

Several Tamil cultural programmes were staged at the event.

"This is not the first time I witness a Tamil dance. I have witnessed several Tamil cultural programmes in Denmark where about 12,000 Sri Lankan Tamil currently reside. They regularly invite me every year to attend their cultural programme," said Mr.Andreas Kamm addressing the resettlers and the children.

He further said, "we are very proud to visit Swamimalai village where the TDDA has been doing constructive works to uplift the resettled refugee families with our assistance."

"I wish you all success in your lives," Mr.Andreas Kamm told IDP families present at the event. Messrs Singarayer and V.Yoosuf also spoke.

Members of the Community Based Organization (CBO) in the village provided lunch to the visitors and participants.


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