March 23, 2012
By Simon Chambers
PWRDF currently has a nine-member delegation visiting the Organization for Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation (OfERR) in India and Sri Lanka as we continue to accompany the Tamil refugees OfERR serves as they begin the process of returning to Sri Lanka from India. The members of the delegation are acting as guest bloggers on the PWRDF blog. Today’s entry comes from Suzanne Rumsey, PWRDF’s Public Engagement Program Coordinator.
Twenty-six hours after leaving Sri Lanka we are home, or at least we have touched down in Toronto. For Scott and Maureen there is still another flight to the West Coast and for Cody one to Fredericton. Frances has a flight and then a bus ride home to Dauphin, Manitoba. For the rest of us there will be shorter trips to homes in the Toronto area.
Two weeks of journeys and encounters are coming to an end.
There have been road trips (and a traffic accident) and train trips, overwhelming heat and humidity and the gentle warmth of the Indian Ocean, hotels and guest houses of various descriptions (we have enough comments about those to fill a guide book!) and curries to knock your socks off. There have been so many sights and sounds and smells, some of them indescribably beautiful and some, well, not so much.
And there have been people. Our partners at OfERR and those with whom they work: refugees and IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) in India and Sri Lanka. For many of them the journey home has been a twenty, even thirty-year odyssey that has yet to end. For some, that journey has been followed by yet more periods of dislocation and displacement in the face of war and repression and now, in peace time, economic necessity.
Time and again on our journey, I was reminded of the experiences of partners and communities in Central America who fled homes and lives during the region’s civil wars. Those who fled Guatemala in the 1980s and returned in the 1990s have been forced to leave again in search of a job and the means to sustain their families “back home.”
All of us long for a place to call home. Over these past two weeks we have learned about how PWRDF’s partnership with OfERR is working to fulfill that longing for Sri Lanka’s Tamil refugees and IDPs. It has been a tremendous privilege to share their journey towards home with eight amazing PWRDF colleagues and volunteers.
And now I need to go home, shower and pick up my son at daycare. It’s Friday and that means pizza and movie night. I am home.