Guides visit Jaffna
By Natasha Fernandopulle
On July 28,2004 seven Girl Guides from Ladies College,
Colombo along with six guiders and parents, left Colombo on a five
day visit to Jaffna. The visit ended on August 2, 2004.
Guides who ranged from the ages of 13 to 18 were Senuri de Silva
(13), Sujatha Karunaratne (14), Onelle Cooray (14), Varuni Senanayake
(14), Danushika Jayawardena (15) Ayndri de Soysa (17) and Shehani
Peris (18). These young girls had many things to say and many an
experience to relate.
in Jaffna the girls stayed in the hostel of their sister school
in Jaffna, the Chundikuli Girls College. The idea of visiting Jaffna
came when they met a girl by the name of Abirami, from Jaffna. They
met her at a Guide camp last year and formed a strong bond with
journey took them 12 hours. After leaving Colombo by coach at 10pm
on July 28, they reached Vavuniya at 5.30am the next day.
girls had to go through four checkpoints and at one check point
three girls and one parent were interviewed by a friendly and courteous
member of the LTTE. They were a bit stunned as to why they were
interviewed but found out during their conversation that this guard
talks to the people who come into the area as he feels responsible
he prefers to get to know those who enter the area. The guards at
the checkpoints guarded by both the Government and the LTTE, the
girls said “did their duties well and were very helpful”.
their way to Jaffna they passed Elephant Pass and also saw the de-mining
process taking place. The girls describe the process thus, “They
looked like astronauts digging the ground”. It is a slow process
and there are miles and miles of mines. The UNICEF has placed signs
in the area with warnings.
being in long queues they reached Chundikuli around 12.30pm. After
sorting things out they decided to walk to the Red Cross office,
which was on the top of the road.
the second day the girls took part in school activates and they
met their friend Abirami. They visited a school, where the principal
was a Guide Commissioner. It was being rebuilt as it was bombed
during the war but the school activities continue. They then visited
the high security zone of Keerimalai.
was the point where Sangamitta landed, therefore there is a temple
there. The girls then visited a place where there were two bathing
pools for women and men, respectively. It is said that the pools
have healing properties.
was their first stop on day three. There is a bottomless well here
and it is believed that if something is dropped in the well it will
appear in the pond in Keerimalai. The girls then visited the LTTE
hero’s memorial, the Nallur Kovil, which is said to be the
biggest Hindi Kovil in Sri Lanka and the Tholagati Ashram. The latter
is run by monks, and wine and the famous Tholagati Nelli cordial
are made there.
was at Hotel Rolex. It is in the town and “it is not really
a hotel but a saivar kade and they are always jam packed”,
said Ayndri. The next activity on the list was shopping. The town
is quite a lot like Pettah and just like in Colombo they have everything
including mobile phone shops, saree shops and a super market. They
were very impressed when they spoke to a shop keeper who spoke in
Tamil, Sinhala, English and Hindi! A few girls visited an ayurvedic
shop. When they visited the shop there was a man making a cure for
was so obliging and even told them the ingredients he was using.
He also brought them tea. While they were at the shop they even
met a priest who had studied at the University of Jaffna.
the town they noticed that there were two lanes for traffic and
one lane in the middle of the road, for parking. A common mode of
transport is bicycles. Everyone has them and there are bicycle sheds
with rows of parked bicycles.
was the next stop. It was a two hour drive and then they had to
take the ferry to the island. “The ferry ride was really packed”,
they all said. A Buddhist temple and a Hindu Kovil are on the island.
The Buddhist temple had statues of Sri Lanka, Burmese and Thai origin.
also visited the Jaffna library and the Jaffna Fort. “We drove
around the fort and all we could see were walls”, they said,
adding, that it was in ruins. The Jaffna library was said to have
been the best in South Asia. It was destroyed due to the war and
it was ruins but is now completely rebuilt and has a relatively
good selection of books.
day four, during their last night in Jaffna, they had a feast for
dinner of crabs, prawns, cuttlefish, idly, thosai, vadai and the
list was endless. “We were stuffed after dinner!” they
said. These young girls had many a memory to take back with them
and they said it was sad to leave all their new friends behind but
they are hoping to visit them again next year.
said, “It is sad that it is a part of our country and no one
knows about it”. “We want to expose Jaffna to people
and let them know what is happening and that it is safe”,
they said. “People there have been through a lot but they
manage to go through life with a smile. The girls are quite free
and their friends even came to visit them at eight in the night!
They seem to be happy and content with their lives. They are typical
teenage girls, we are just like them”, and that is the message
they want to give all of us.
main aim of going to Jaffna was to make friends, form bonds and
to interact with the people of Jaffna and it seems that these young
girls seem to have accomplished what they wanted to do. The girls
said “it was an excellent experience” and that they
would like to thank Marlene Dissanayake, Chief Commissioner of the
Girl Guides for organising everything.