March 17, 2012
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 post comes to us from Janet Dench, Former Chair, PWRDF Board of Directors, Diocese of Montreal.
Day 5: This is what passes for a day of rest. True, we had a delegation meeting this morning. And yes, we had to leave the guest house at 2:30 to get to the airport.
But we all enjoyed the chance to relax a bit, with most taking the opportunity to go shopping in Chennai. I had my first experience of table service at a food court!
As we complete the first half of our visit, we offer some reflections on our experience in India.
- Our delegation is working very well. We have come through heat, an intense schedule, short nights and a minor road accident with resilience and good humour. We all bring to the team different perspectives that enrich our understanding of what we see and hear.
- Each day has revealed to us new facets of the situation facing refugees in Tamil Nadu, which seems ever more complex and multi-layered. Our delegation meetings are prolonged by new questions that we ask each other. The difficulties in seeing things clearly make it only more important for us to make the journey together with the Tamil refugees so that we can discern how we can best support them.
- We are struck by the commitment and sincerity of the OfERR staff and volunteers.
- It has been humbling to visit the refugee camps. The women and men have lived there so long, facing so many restrictions. Despite their feelings of frustration, they have achieved so much in their efforts to better themselves and their community.
- We have heard a challenge to us. As one camp resident said, “Groups come to meet us but what comes of it?” We recognize our need to be accountable to those we visit.
I have just heard the announcement that our plane has commenced its descent. In a few minutes we will be in Sri Lanka.