The Tsunami Rehabilitation (currently known as Sivan Arul Illam) was founded in 2005, following the 2004 Tsunami that had claimed about 30000 lives in Sri Lanka.
Our children’s home in Thiruketheeswaram, Mannar,was opened to provide shelter and care for 25 destitute children. However, tragedy struck again in this region in the form of a devastating civil war. We were faced with an urgent need to go beyond caring for only destitute children. Various sections of community needed immediate assistance and this pushed us to expand our services widely. Hence Sivanarul Trust was formed to not only look after the children under our care but also to provide livelihood assistance to the war victims.
Ten years on, we have helped countless individuals. Our success would not have been possible without every penny from donations provided to us. We thank all of our donors, especially those who have remained with us for many years, supporting us even at times of difficulty when we didn’t know how we could possibly meet the needs of everyone that came our way.
When the children came to us initially, we used a temple “madam” (accommodation provided for religious pilgrims) as our temporary shelter. Our aim was to provide a safe and loving environment where the children could make a fresh start. But at the same time we worked hard to build a new home for the children. This was made possible by the kindness of the late Mr. R. Namasivayam, the then president of the Thiruketheesawarm temple, who secured some land for the purposes of building a home for the children. In April 2006, thanks to a generous donation by ‘Path to the Future’, the children’s first play ground was opened where our children could run around free. This was followed by the first permanent building for the children being completed in August 2007, with Nike Netherlands providing a significant contribution enabling this.
At the end of the civil war in 2009, we were one of the few charities who were allowed entry into the internally displaced person (IDP) camps. We provided emergency services and essential supplies for three months, this included food, water and garments for children and adults. We spent 2.5 million Sri Lankan rupees in providing necessities for babies and infants, including bottles, milk and bath tubs. During the aftermath of the war, Sivanarul Trust was one of the major providers of food for hundreds of people at Mannar hospital, where the International Committee of the Red Cross had set-up a makeshift IDP camp. In order to meet this huge demand for help, we committed all our resources to action.
A judge from Vavuniya, having legal custody of children in the IDP camps, requested if we could house 70 young boys from the camps. These were young boys who were previously brought up in the Sencholai Children’s home in Vanni, which was destroyed in the war. Whilst working on a permanent solution, we welcomed the new boys and found temporary housing for them. The older boys were housed in a temple madam whilst the younger boys were housed within the girls’ home. In 2010 we built a permanent home for the boys from the generous donation from the Humane Australia Foundation and Nacote, and moved them out of the temporary accommodation. This resulted in us running two homes, one for the boys and one for the girls.
In 2011, we took in a further 80 children from deprived backgrounds, mostly girls from Mullaitivu and Vanni,. We housed them within our existing girls’ home. To date, we have provided a loving home for approximately 200 destitute children.
We are indebted to Mr Manikkavasakar for being instrumental in shaping the children’s home to its current praiseworthy standards. During his seven-year voluntary service leading up to 2013 as the director in charge, he established an effective administration and governance for the optimal function of the organisation. His tireless efforts and contributions are greatly appreciated.
Sivan Arul Illam has also helped the vulnerable and needy across all the age groups. In August 2009, following the end of the civil war, we took in approximately 55 elderly persons who were displaced and separated from their families. They joined us directly from the IDP camps and were in urgent need of care and medical attention. It was heart-breaking to see these individuals separated from their families at the last stages of their lives. Our aim was to provide a secure and safe environment away from the families that they had been separated from. As the years went by, some of these elders were indeed re-united with their families, and some demised of natural causes. The remaining few, about ten, were finally re-housed in another elderly home in Vavuniya in 2014.
The end of the war also saw many accidents from landmines, resulting in a large populations being left without limbs. There was a desperate need to provide artificial limbs to amputees so that they could try to re-build their lives. Working alongside the Meththa Foundation under the guidance of Dr Panagamuwa, we opened a limb-fitting facility at Mannar hospital and provided artificial limbs. To date almost one thousand individuals have benefited from these services.
In 2009, we also opened a physiotherapy unit in Mannar hospital to provide rehabilitation for those injured, mainly during the war. Sivanarul Trust spent £35,000 purchasing high quality physiotherapy equipment to provide this support.
After the end of the war as the IDPs returned to their villages, it was clear that they would need a huge amount of support to re-build their lives. As such, over the last few years we have focused our efforts on providing livelihood assistance for t war victims, particularly families headed by widows and disabled individuals. With support from the Gnanam Foundation (charitable arm of Lyca mobile corporation) and The Tamil Support Foundation, we provided livelihood assistance for about 1000 families including providing monthly sponsorship for 300 vulnerable families. Many kind hearted donors from UK, Australia and New Zealand volunteered to look after these families for many years.
Livelihood assistance provided include home based poultry farming and other small scale home farming, vegetable cultivation and small businesses such as shops and sewing business. We have also worked with engineers to modify auto-rickshaws so that those with leg amputations can still drive them and earn a living by providing a taxi service.
Inspired by microfinance projects, we have provided loans to individuals to set up their own business To date we have provided revolving funds to more than 300 women headed families, working in partnership with CCYE (Centre for Children and Youth Empowerment) . For the past 3 years Gnanam Foundation funded SAI 1.4million rupees monthly for educational assistance for vulnerable school going children. With this generous donation, we funded the education of 650 children in the Vanni district.
In Periyaparanthan, Kilinochchi, Sivanarul Trust built a food-processing factory known as the Sivan Arul Vocational Training & Production Centre. This initiative offers sustainable employment opportunities for 45 vulnerable widowed and disabled women. These women are now processing large quantities of rice flour and spices including chillies and turmeric. Wholesale traders in Kilinochchi and Jaffna are buying these products, and we are proud to report that we are now actively exporting to Australia. Our products have been warmly received in Sydney and currently experiencing a high demand. The aim of this project is not only to provide an income for these women but to empower them, and give them the confidence that they can succeed in life amidst all the struggles that they have been through.
Similarly a bakery in Puthukudiyiruppu was set up and is being run by ten disabled and vulnerable individuals who had been affected by the war. Bread, cakes, sweets and buns are made at the premises, providing a sustainable income for those employed.
The Australian Medical Aid Foundation funds Rs 2.4million annually to support the medical expense of 50 paraplegics paralysed from neck or waist down. This has facilitated them to live with dignity in the society.
In many villages there is a dire need to have access to clean drinking water. We have built over 100 tube wells and 40 standard wells throughout the north and east of Sri Lanka. A single tube well alone can serve a whole village for many purposes including bathing, washing and cooking.
Currently we believe there is an urgent need to provide disabled toilets in villages so that everyone can have their basic needs met and live a life with dignity without being subjected to humiliating circumstances. So far, we have built 50 disabled toilets and we hope to build more. We are campaigning to generate more funds to build more disabled toilets and tube wells, both of which are vital to meet basic needs in villages following the civil war.
The effects of war, poverty and the tsunami have left behind a society that has been ravaged by unfortunate circumstances and in dire need for help. Our aim is to continue to provide security, education, and rehabilitation to all these vulnerable individuals.
We are excited and look forward to what we can achieve over the next ten years, with the support of our generous donors and dedicated staff.
From our humble beginning as a Home for 25 destitute children, our ability to grow into an organisation extending much needed help to various sections of the community was only made possible by our partner organisations and our donors.
We are grateful for the continuing support we receive from all our donors throughout the world including the United Kingdom, USA, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. Gandhi Illam in New Zealand has been sponsoring a portion of the children home expenses for a long time. Your continuing support has enabled Sivanarul Trust to embark on all these humanitarian projects. Last but not the least, our aspirations would not have been made possible without the hard work of our staff and directors that we count on every day.
From the bottom of our hearts, we thank all of you for this amazing support