Sri Lanka Civil War Relief

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Project Brief

The nation of Sri Lanka is an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. In 2004, it was hit by the Tsunami which resulted in over 35,000 deaths and CRS sent many relief teams to help in the relief effort. However, Sri Lanka has also been facing civil war since 1983 between the Sri Lankan government and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). In early 2009, the Sri Lankan government launched large scale attacks to take control of the whole nation that resulted in more than 6,500 deaths and many more thousands injured. As a response, CRS sent relief teams in June to September 2009 to help to conduct mobile medical clinic and food distribution at the Internally Displaced People camps and the surrounding areas in Batticaloa and Vanni.

Reports from the field:

Reflections from 27 April to 2 May 2011
Sri Lanka, a Land Loved by God and us
17 Jun to 21 Jun 2009

Reflections from 27 April to 2 May 2011

Report & Reflections of Crisis Relief Trip to Sri Lanka 27 April to 2 May 2011

By Pamelor Phor
Vanakam! (Hello in Tamil)

Upon our arrival in Colombo’s airport, we were welcomed warmly by the local church pastor, where we took a bumpy 10 hour bus ride to a town in the north of Sri Lanka called Vavinuya. Our bus battery exploded along the way but thank God by some miracle we managed to reach our destination without pushing the bus. Our first meal was sumptuous which was cooked by our local host, with the traditional nasi briyani, fried fish, daal, pappadum, etc. Some of us even tried to eat Indian style – with our bare hands! The “hotel” we stayed in was simple, with our fellow resident friends consisting of moths, mosquitoes, flies, cockroaches, bedbugs and even a frog in our bathroom. Heh. Nevertheless, God granted us the grace to have a good rest each night, as all of us were exhausted after a long day of work at the clinics.

We conducted 5 mobile clinic sessions in various places in the village, each session lasting about 3-4 hours at one go. Our one and only doctor saw about 500 patients in total. The rest of us helped out with other tasks such as registration, crowd control, playing with the children, packing and dispensing medicine and praying for the sick. We encountered common illnesses such as flu, worms in stomach, aches and pain the body, while some had more serious diseases such as cataract, deformed bodies, embedded bullet, tumours, etc. We prayed for every person who came, for the Lord to heal them – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. 8 people received salvation and 1 received immediate healing – Praise Him!

We were supposed to enter an internally displaced people (IDP) camp which housed the Tamils during the civil war which ended in 2009. However, due to the volatile political situation, despite getting the legal permit, we were stopped at the border and had to turn back. It was disappointing for some of us, but we trusted that God was in control and had his purposes. I had heard stories from trippers who managed to get into the IDP camps in previous trips, and hope to come back someday to minister to the people in there.

We also visited 2 local church services while we were there – it was interesting to see how the locals worshipped God in their own way. I’m always amazed how people from different cultures, languages, backgrounds, can worship God together in one spirit. Some of us shared our testimonies. Most of the church goers were women and children – as in most developing countries. One church we visited was smaller than my bedroom! And it fitted about 30 people in total. It was so suffocating that my team leader (the doctor) nearly fainted while preaching his message. It was humbling to see how sincere they were in worshipping God despite their poverty and circumstance. It was also amazing seeing both the Christian Sinhalese and Tamils serving the Lord together, considering that they were both enemies in the civil war.

We had about a day and a half to rest and relax in Colombo – which we spent at one of the local pastor’s church house, and driving down south to a famous beach town called Gaal – but it was dark and raining when we reached there =/ Nevertheless, it was a good time with one another’s company. I’m really thankful for getting to go on this trip with this great bunch of people, whom I only met a few weeks before the trip. Yet it was amazing how we all got along and worked together like we’ve known one another for years! Most of the trippers were younger than me surprisingly - the average age was 28 years old which included two 50+ yrs old ple, so the median age would be around 23 years. The youngest girl was 18 years old, but she amazed me the most with her enthusiasm and humility serving the Lord – I wish the youth in church were all like her.

Each mission trip I go for affirms my calling by the Lord, though I’m not exactly sure where He wants me to go or what He wants me to do, but I believe that as I trust Him each step of the way, He would show and lead me one step at a time =)

I would be raising funds for Crisis Relief Singapore by running my 1st marathon (Adidas Sundown) on 28th May 2011. My target is to complete 42km within 6 hours. You can support me in this effort by contributing any amount. All contributions would go entirely to Crisis Relief Singapore – which is a non-profit organization. You can find out more about them on their website: http://www.crisisrelief.org/ Your contributions would give me greater reason and motivation to finish this marathon!

I’m not a natural runner (in fact, I used to tell people that I hate running), but with much discipline and hard work, I’ve learnt the art of running. At the same time, I learn to enjoy the process of running… Trust me, it’s not easy. Sometimes I feel like giving up. But what keeps me going is the thought/ sight of the end point (rest at last!) Each time I run, I’m reminded of how life is like a race (or rather, a marathon). Some people say that life is a rat race. You can run, just for the sake of running, or for a personal sense of accomplishment, or for health reasons. For myself, I strive to run this race of life with purpose, and to end it well! I pray that you would do so too and I will see you at the finishing line =)

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Yesu Ungalai Neissi Kira! (Jesus loves you)

 

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Sri Lanka, a Land Loved by God and us

Report of Sri Lanka, a Land Loved by God and us (8th to 15th August 2009)

By Estella Ng In August 2009, Crisis Relief Singapore Team 3 responded to a call for help from our partners in Sri Lanka to help the villagers in Vavuniya, at the northern part of Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan government had successfully eradicated the Tamil Tigers from its last stronghold in the north recently. Since, many people had been put in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps, where living conditions are limited by sufficient water, food, hygiene and proper medical care. 6 of us responded readily, not only because we saw the physical needs of these people but we also saw the spiritual needs. We wanted to bring God’s love to these people. It was very clear to each of us in the team that we represented God’s hands and feet as we moved out to serve the community. We were no longer doctors or working professionals in our mighty offices, but servants – servants who are submitted to God’s leading. Every action, word and thought that we show, articulate and possess has to be a right reflection of Him. This was not our work, but His . This attitude helped the team to unite and respond readily to many unpredictable circumstances at site as we did not manage to get access into the IDP camps eventually. Instead, we gave medical aid to a couple of villages managed by the Church of Prayer Mission. Many of the villagers are Hindus, with a small percentage being Muslims and Christians. God has been faithful and has never stopped pouring His blessings on us as we blessed the villagers and church workers at Sri Lanka in return. We tended to 650 patients in 4 villages, gave out 60 bibles to 2 churches, gave dietary supplies to 200 sickly children and donated medicine to a hospital where many seriously-ill IDP patients were transferred to. We managed to pray for many Hindus and other pre-believers. We met up with 150 youths in a church camp and ministered to another church of about 20 with testimonies and sermons. It was never short of being a fruitful and meaningful trip. Throughout the trip, God gave us favour amongst the locals as we cleared immigration and security checks one after another without any effort. There was rain every time we started clinic work so weather was always cool despite being in hot and dry Sri Lanka. We were blessed with good food and hospitality from local pastors and most importantly, all of us returned home safely, refreshed and energized. None of us fell sick despite being exposed to so many patients. Lives were touched by prayers and local Christians were encouraged by the support and love from Christians beyond their land. God’s love knows no boundaries. His faithfulness never ceases. Kadavul Aasirvathipar - May God Bless You (in tamil).

17 Jun to 21 Jun 2009

Report of Sri Lanka Recee Team (17th to 21st June 2009)

By Dr. Jennifer Yeo CRS was first contacted by the Sri Lankan High Commission in Singapore earlier this year to help to provide medical and other relief to those displaced by the decade's long Sri Lankan civil war. On Wednesday 17th June 2009, a 5-member recce team led by Dr. Lim Koon Jin left for Batticaloa via Colombo. The other team members are CRS Project Director - Terence Lim, Business Psychologist - Goh Hong Yi, NUH A&E Nurse and a colleague of Dr Lim - Nur Jelita and General Practitioner - Dr. Jennifer Yeo. Our original destination had been Jaffna but government restrictions prevented us from going there. Our local partners, Rev. Albert Jebanayagam and Rev. Harry of Canaan Fellowship International Church obtained permission for us to accompany The Salvation Army of Sri Lanka into the IDP camps in the Eastern Province of Batticaloa instead. WHO had declared an Influenza A H1N1 pandemic on 11th June 2009 and even before our actual relief work began in Sri Lanka, we found ourselves helping to screen passengers for our Cathay Pacific flight to Colombo. Cathay Pacific rewarded us with a business class upgrade for our efforts! We were met at Colombo airport by Rev. Albert and his team and our Singapore partners from CityCare – Stephen Pok, Jebasingh and Evangeline Ong (a nurse) led by Pastor Kenneth Sim. Driving through the night past numerous security checkpoints, our two van drivers managed to get us to Batticaloa in 7.5 hours instead of the usual 10 hours. Batticaloa lay on the east coast of Sri Lanka, separated from the mainland by an inland lagoon. After checking in at Co-Op Inn, we had breakfast and drove straight to begin our two day programme of mobile clinics and distribution of dry rations in seven IDP camps: Sathrukondan I & II, Palameendu I & II, Zahira, Sinhala and Kokuvil. On the second day, Dr S. Sathurumugam, Regional Director of Health Services, Batticaloa visited the mobile clinic. Some team members went to nearby BT Zahira Vidyalayam School to distribute rations. Our daily routine consisted of morning devotion and prayer, breakfast, clinic and distribution, lunch followed by the same, dinner and debrief and ending with an evening devotion and prayer before lights out. Batticaloa had been affected by the December 2004 tsunami that killed thousands across Asia. We saw memorials erected in memory of those who lost their lives. Just before leaving Singapore, Koon Jin had gone to the bank to deposit some cheques for CRS. When he entered and left the bank two different men held the door open for him, He saw that as a sign that doors would be opened for CRS to reach out to the needy in Sri Lanka as indeed they were. To God be the glory.
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Helping to screen passengers before the flight
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Church rebuilt after tsunami
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Seeing a patient at the mobile clinic
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Dry ration distribution