Enduring Scars: Sri Lanka's Aftermath

“My son was a Sri Lanka Army soldier. He died while fighting with the LTTE in the North. 
He was just twenty-two years old. 
They couldn’t find my son’s body, so I still hope that he is still alive somewhere in this country.”

– Father in a Sinhalese village 
Polonnaruwa District, North Central Province, Sri Lanka, 2009

“My son was a Sri Lanka Army soldier. He died while fighting with the LTTE in the North. He was just twenty-two years old. They couldn’t find my son’s body, so I still hope that he is still alive somewhere in this country.” – Father in a Sinhalese village Polonnaruwa District, North Central Province, Sri Lanka, 2009

The Red Cross rescued this girl from a rural village during heavy fighting in the North. 
Her whole family died, and now she suffers combat-related stress. 
She is learning to make knitted goods to sell in the mental health care center, to earn a little money for herself.

- War-affected children at Mental Health Care Center
Trincomalee District, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
A Hindu temple.
Trincomalee District, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
A portrait of a husband and wife. He has been missing for twenty-five years.  
Polonnaruwa District, North Central Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
“My husband disappeared twenty-five years ago. Nobody thinks he is still alive, but I do. 
War is over now, but my war is not over yet, not until he comes back to our home.”

– War widow in a Sinhalese village
Polonnaruwa District, North Central Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
"I always keep a door open so that my husband can come back to our house anytime. 
I have been waiting for him almost ten years. He disappeared suddenly. 
I want to see him, want to see him right now."

– War widow in a Tamil village
Trincomalee District, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
“ My husband is missing. 
I am not sure if he is still alive or not. 
But if I die, I will see him in a heaven.”

– War widow in a Tamil village
Trincomalee District, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
“Seventy-six war widows live in this village 
among two hundred eighty-one women. 
My husband was a teacher. Why did they kill him?”

– War widow in a Tamil village
Trincomalee District, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
“My husband was a Sri Lankan Army soldier. 
They told me he was dead. 
I didn’t see his body because he was buried 
in a mass grave in the North. I feel sad.”

– War widow in a Sinhalese village
Polonnaruwa District, North Central Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
“My husband was a government worker. 
A gunman shot him in our living room, 
and then he escaped. It was 3 pm.”

– War widow in a Tamil village
Trincomalee District, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
A view along the coast.
Colombo District, Western Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
A local hospital transferred this girl to the mental health care center after her parents died from war injuries. 
She now suffers from mental illness. 
She makes gardening goods which she sells for a little personal money. 

- War-affected children at Mental Health Care Center
Trincomalee District, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
This woman has lived in mental health care centers for twelve years due to mental damage from combat-related stress. 
She has been a refugee since birth.

- War-affected children at Mental Health Care Center
Trincomalee District, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
This boy has suffered from mental illness since birth. He is from the Northern Province, which has gone through 25 years of war. 
His family became refugees in the late 1990s. 
His mother left him at a local hospital and never came back. 

- War-affected children at Mental Health Care Center
Trincomalee District, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
The Red Cross found this boy in a refugee camp in the North. 
He was sent to this center for war-affected children because he has mental problems. All of his family died in the war. 

- War-affected children at Mental Health Care Center
Trincomalee District, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
She lost her whole family in a Sri Lanka Army bombing offensive. 
The Red Cross found her in a bunker. She survived but suffers from combat-related stress. 
She lives in a mental health care center for war-affected children and makes gardening goods to sell for a little money. 

- War-affected children at Mental Health Care Center
Trincomalee District, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
Tamil people pray at a Hindu Temple
Colombo District, Western Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
Artificial legs at a rehabilitation center for war victims. 
Polonnaruwa District, North Central Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
“It was very heavy fighting with the LTTE. I was a Sri Lanka Army soldier. 
There was a huge explosion near by us and I lost my right arm. 
Most of my friends in the same infantry unit died during an offensive last year. 
I think I am lucky because I am still alive.”

– Veteran of the Sri Lankan Army
Polonnaruwa District, North Central Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
“I became blind in 1998. 
I was a policeman in my village. The LTTE attacked us around 2 am. 
They tried to take my rifle but I held it. 
Then they stabbed my face and chest with a knife. 
I survived, but since then I became blind.”

– Former Sri Lankan policeman
Matara District, Southern Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
“My son was a Sri Lanka Army soldier. He died while fighting with the LTTE in the North. 
He was just twenty-two years old. 
They couldn’t find my son’s body, so I still hope that he is still alive somewhere in this country.”

– Father in a Sinhalese village 
Polonnaruwa District, North Central Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
“I was a Sri Lanka Army soldier. 
I lost my legs when I stepped on a land mine in the North. 
I wish I could walk with my legs again.”

– Veteran of the Sri Lankan Army
Polonnaruwa District, North Central Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
A Tamil man prays at a Hindu temple.
Colombo District, Western Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
A video shop plays a recording showing LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran’s corpse 
after he was killed during the final SLA offensive in May 2009. 

Colombo District, Western Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
“We are sisters.
We both had husbands who were Sri Lanka Army soldiers. 
And we both lost husbands in the war.”

– War widows in a Sinhalese village
Polonnaruwa District, North Central Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
“I was a Sri Lanka Army soldier. I was shot during fighting with LTTE. 
I can’t walk since then. But I am trying to survive by my self. That's all I can do.”
  
– Veteran of the Sri Lankan Army
Polonnaruwa District, North Central Province, Sri Lanka, 2009

A technician makes an artificial leg at a rehabilitation center for war victims. 
Polonnaruwa District, North Central Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
The Sri Lankan Navy guards a train station.
Colombo District, Western Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
“A man shot my father inside our house. 
I heard the gunshot and I saw that my father was still alive. 
But soon he stopped breathing.” 

– Boy in a Tamil village 
Trincomalee District, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
“This is my father. 
He was a Sri Lanka Army soldier. 
He loved us so much. I miss him.”

– Boy in a Sinhalese village 
Matara District, Southern Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
"My father died as a Sri Lanka Army soldier when I was two years old. 
I don't remember him, but I look at his picture every day.”

– Girl in a Sinhalese village 
Polonnaruwa District, North Central Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
“Two hundred twenty-six women live in this village and eighty-six are war widows. 
I am one of them. Nobody has been arrested yet.” 

– War widow with her children in a Tamil village
Trincomalee District, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
A billboard showing Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa. 
Colombo District, Western Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
This girl became an orphan after her whole family was killed in crossfire during a battle in Northern Province. 
After she began exhibiting combat-related stress, she was sent to a mental health center for war-affected children. 
Now she is learning to sew. 

- War-affected children at Mental Health Care Center
Trincomalee District, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
The Red Cross found this girl at a hospital in Northern Province and brought her to this mental health care center for war-affected children.
She doesn’t remember anything from her past because of combat-related stress. 

- War-affected children at Mental Health Care Center
Trincomalee District, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
After her family became refugees, this girl's mother asked the Red Cross to take care of her. She suffers from mental illness and now lives in a mental health care center for war-affected children.
Her family still lives in a refugee camp in the North. They have not returned to see her. 

- War-affected children at Mental Health Care Center
Trincomalee District, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
She is 25 years old and has lived at this mental health center for ten years. 
She is a war orphan and suffers from combat-related stress. 

- War-affected children at Mental Health Care Center
Trincomalee District, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
She became twenty-seven this year and has lived at the mental health care center for thirteen years.
She is learning to crochet and sells the goods to a shop to earn a little money. 
She is from the former LTTE stronghold in Northern Province, and suffers from combat-related stress.
 
- War-affected children at Mental Health Care Center
Trincomalee District, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka, 2009
Lamps at a Buddhist Temple.
Colombo District, Western Province, Sri Lanka, 2009