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I was back in the Eastern Province last week after an absence of over three years. Before that, since I was told 30 years ago by the British Council to manage a furniture project for schools initiated by the British government after the Indo-Lankan Accord, I had been a constant visitor there.

Though the scope of the project had to be changed when the Tigers renewed hostilities, we kept working in Amparai, for large areas of that District were comparatively safe. I then set up English language improvement projects in schools, for which the English Association received support from Canadians and Australians. Much of this however was in the Sinhala dominated west of the District, since the other parts were not thought safe. Indeed even to access Amparai itself we had to go through several checkpoints, while the roads were appalling and travel very slow.

Those problems persisted for twenty years, even when it became possible to get to the coastal areas. This was for the pre-University GELT project, when I managed to visit all the centres in the East, including the one in Tirukkovil which was an area dominated by the Tigers in the mid-nineties. I still recall the soldier at the checkpoint telling me cheerfully that I could go to Tirukkovil, but he could not say if I could get back. The car firm I used in those days refused to go to Batticaloa, and I had to hire vans in Buttala for the purpose. Read the rest of this entry »

Rajiva Wijesinha

December 2018
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