The Women survivor group had a unique experience of leaving their family responsibilities for 03 days from the 30th August to the 02nd of September to mourn, heal and to transform them for the first time in their lives. There were 35 women survivors of families of the disappeared and the prisoners family members of Torture/ rape survivors.
From the 30th the group was prepared step by step for the process of their grieving healing and transformation. The day began remembering the disappeared members of their families with a religious service and an almsgiving held at the Parish hall of Ampitiya. The Buddhist Dharma (sermon) was very meaningful and touching which lasted nearly two hours. The alms giving was organized by the members of the families of the disappeared. There were also family members and parishioners around 150 persons for the Dharma sermon and the almsgiving.
At the dawn of the following day the women survivors were on the ground doing walking/ sitting and meditating with the guidance of the family counselors. An input session on healing the trauma ,laid as the foundation for the process of healing conducted by a professional lady doctor on mental health. Her life experiences of losses she has gone through in her past life and her working experiences with tsunami survivors was enriching and enlightening. It was an eye opener for our survivor group. They started questioning themselves and came to a realization “why do we go on with grieving and mourning day after day and year after year? We must start living for the sake of our family and other people”.
Ceremonial delivery of testimony was rich with signs and symbols. The welcome of the survivor, lighting of the oil lamp, the decorations, were befitting for the occasion. A documentary of “Piravi” a Malayalam film depicting the story of a father waiting for his son’s return day in and day out was screened to give a better insight of the mind of an awaiting father. A Meditation song with visuals raised the minds and the hearts of the participants in prayer of forgiveness for those perpetrators. Welcome dance with lighted candles invoked blessings of gods and goddesses for the great occasion. The story of a mother whose son was missing represented the disappearance stories of the group. The whole group was in mind, body and spirit was with her. Remembering the disappearances story of one mother brought back to the minds the live but unique memories of the stories of the other mothers who have gone through the same process of grieving and mourning.
It was the day of the mothers of the disappeared. There were 22 mothers who waited for the moment where they could find a burial ground for their sons. So far they were still awaiting the return of their loved ones and their dear sons. Realizing that they would never come back and that they are among the dead the mothers placed a souvenir of their loved ones with some flowers and took part in the burial service. The Buddhist monks celebrated Pensacola and a Dharma sermon, the catholic burial service was conducted by Fr. Nandana Manatunga reminding them that their loved ones are in a better place while Muslim priests prayed for the heavenly bliss of their souls.
Fr. Nandana then appreciated and encouraged the grieving mothers. He pledged them of his concern and support and for their families. He awarded each of them a especial souvenir reminding them that their loved ones are in a better place enjoying heavenly bliss and resting in peace. Insightful message of meaningful perspective for their future outlook was carved on it such as
All the survivors looked happy and with joy they greeted one another. Finally to express their oneness and solidarity they took part in the tea party specially prepared for them. The members of the support group, well wishers and friends shared their compassion and joy with the survivor group.
Human Rights Office Kandy, Torture in Sri Lanka, Disappearances in Sri Lanka, Healing and Counseling
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