Dreams of better life blasted in crossfire
By Asif Fuard
Like many Sri Lankans, 34-year-old Rohana Perera from Kottawa, went to West Asia to give a better life to his children back home. But instead he died in the line of duty while transporting goods from Kuwait to Iraq. He fell victim to an exchange of fire between militants and US soldiers in Iraq.

Rohana first worked in Saudi Arabia and then went to Kuwait where he worked as a truck driver for a Gulf Transport Company, transporting goods to Iraq. He had reportedly got caught in the crossfire on February 11, while returning from Iraq after transporting goods. He succumbed to his injuries two days later in a US Military hospital.

Rohana's mother Soma Perera told The Sunday Times that they got to know about their son's death three days after the tragedy, when one of his colleagues Piyaratne who had called his family members in Sri Lanka and asked them to break the news to them.

" My son called us everyday when he was in Kuwait and the only time he didn't call was when he went to Iraq. There were several other Sri Lankans travelling with him. His closest colleagues Duminda and Piyaratne were also travelling with him on that fateful day," she said.

"He last called us on February 5 and he said he would be leaving for Iraq. We were always worried when he travelled to Iraq. When Dinesh Rajaratnam was taken hostage, I asked him to come back but he said he would return once he had enough money to live comfortably in Sri Lanka. He was to come back next month."

Rohana 34, a father of two had gone to Saudi Arabia in 2003, but three months later he was forced to go to Kuwait because he did'nt get enough pay. His work entailed transporting heavy equipment to war-torn Iraq.

He was a private bus driver in Sri Lanka. But he sold his bus and went abroad with the hope of one day returning home to build a better life for himself and his children. At present family members lament that they are being sent from one place to another, to make arrangements to retrieve the body, that is in the hands of the US Military in Iraq.

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