Waiting for glorified life

The beneficiaries undergoing training at the Kandakadu and Saliyapura rehabilitation centres in Polonnaruwa begin their day s routine at 5.00 am each morning. After their morning tea and breakfast, they begin the day s activities by hoisting the National flag at 6.00 am. Subsequent to cleaning up their surrounding areas, the beneficiaries engage in the various vocational training workshops designed with the aim of preparing them for self employment ventures once they are released. There are five vocational training courses designed namely carpentry, masonry, and electrical wiring, plumbing and outboard motor maintenance.

The instructors for these vocational training courses are provided by the National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA), while the raw materials and equipment used by the beneficiaries are provided by a cement companies.

They are also provided time for recreational activities and sports during the evening. The officers in the Kandakadu camp have established a competent volleyball team. The beneficiaries then engage in some social time, watching television and socializing, before retiring for the day around 10 pm. However on the weekends the beneficiaries engage in cleaning up the camp premises and the adjacent areas, and on certain weekends the parents and family members of the beneficiaries are also allowed to visit them at the camp and spend some quality time together.

Ceylon Today visited the Kandakadu camp recently to witness the activities that are planned out by the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation, Brig. Dharshana Hettiarachchi.

Routine in the camp

Maj. B.D.S Rajaratne the officer in charge of the Kandakadu rehabilitation camp

There are 96 beneficiaries in the Kandakadu camp undergoing the rehabilitation programme. So far we have rehabilitated and reintegrated 2370 beneficiaries at this camp.

There is a special routine that these rehabilitants follow for five days of the week, while there is a separate programme for the weekend. The beneficiaries wake up at 5.30 am and after getting ready we hoist the National flag at 6.00 am and sing the National Anthem, which they all participate enthusiastically. They now sing the National Anthem in Sinhala and show due respect for the flag.

Although they had hostile and bitter sentiment towards the government forces and the Sinhala people, now they have learnt to trust us and the relationships and bonds between the two parties have grown tremendously. They seek our help to fulfill their needs and we have done everything to make them comfortable. These beneficiaries have told us, they wanted to shoot the government forces, when they spotted a military uniform. However they had never thought that these very same soldiers in the khaki uniform would treat them so well. Now they are the best friends and it’s amazing to see the bonds that have been established through trust.

According to Major Rajaratne, the government spends Rs. 350.00 per day for food per inmate at the rehabilitation centre. When you include the electricity consumption and other facilities, each beneficiary has to be allocated a sum of around Rs. 400.00 to 450.00 per day, which is a considerable sum the government has to bear for the benefit of these rehabilitants.

The beneficiaries receiving training at the Kandakadu cam are those who have surrendered to the security forces, those under court orders and those who have been arrested and sent here on court orders. Currently, we have beneficiaries who have sent here for rehabilitation for a period of one year by court order. After the years training, we submit the documentation that is required for their release and the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation and the Rehabilitation Ministry will take over the rest of the duties to secure the release of these beneficiaries, said Major Rajaratne.

He said while the weekend has been allocated for the parents and family members to visit the beneficiaries, at present only about 30% of the families make the trip. However when talking to the beneficiaries and their parents; it was clear that they had to bear heavy expenses to make the trip, which was hard for them to bear. Therefore the parents told Ceylon Today that due to their inability to afford the heavy cost in visiting their children at the rehabilitation centres, they are forced to limit their visits............

By Camelia Nathaniel

(Courtesy - Ceylon Today)