Jeevananda Ashram, Gurukkalmadam, Batticaloa district
The Jeevananda Ashram has kept a tranquil atmosphere which radiates love and harmony into the 50 plus children whom call it home. Reverend Marianayagum would be pleased to see that his dream of a peaceful escape from the brutality of the children's everyday life is still thriving to this day. Although the ashram has maintained this charm in the face of cruelty during the civil war and the disastrous outcome of the historic December tsunami, the wear and tear of such things has had many negative affects.
The standards of health and quality living the facility once possessed are now at a very low level. Due to the physiological impact that both these tragedies have imprinted into the children's young minds, it is imperative that the standard of their living conditions is raised to meet the level of compassion and dignity that thrives in the heart of this magical home. The history of the place is symbolized in the once new and wonderful playground that is now falling apart and actually a dangerous hazard, the will to move on is stamped on the children's faces as they longingly watch the swing set squeak in the wind.
In 1983 the home was moved far south to escape the racial riots. As the war raged all around them the children were kept safe for a long period of time, but eventually, in 1998, the sanctuary was painfully exposed when the fighting spilled into their backyard. Gun shots ripped through the night and the girl's dorm was peppered with bullets. Three of the young girls were badly injured, but thankfully there were no causalities. To this day Sister Pakiam Helen Mary still thanks God for his protection on that frightening night. This incident has left many of the girls mentally wounded and terrified of all the soldiers that still roam the streets to this day, making them very reluctant to travel the one kilometer walk to school everyday.
On December 26th 2004 the Jeevananda's girls home population increased by 15 boys, all of whom lost their orphanage in the tsunami. Miraculously none of the boys were killed although everything that they owned and held in comfort was taken away. This brief history only scratches the surface of what these kids have been left to endure.
The ashram has seven buildings, all packed together in one tiny corner of the sprawling 25 square acres. The rest of the land is divided between a large garden, a few farming barns, and a dirt field that is usually packed with the boys committed to an intense but friendly cricket match. The old cow barn is where the boys are made to sleep, and it is hoped that a new building will be erected (if some money comes in) for them to use as a study hall and dorm (see below for more information).
This ashram has all the potential in the world to become a totally self-sufficient home. The tsunami claimed most of the farm animals including all the goats, so that source of income has been put on hold. The garden is huge but dead as the wells are filthy and only very recently operational again. An old windmill pierces the skyline, if the proper repairs were made to it the home would have its own power source. This is one of the only windmills in Sri Lanka , so hopefully it will start a new trend once operational.
The ashram also has a spacious weaving center. It is currently occupied by government workers, who are to pack up and leave the area in three months. They will be taking all the hand looms with them, so this is something that needs to be supplied to the home. We believe the handlooms are top priority as it will give the orphanage a steady source of income. Not to mention the girls will be able to get a much needed jobs and income. It is also a way of preserving a piece of true Sri Lankan tradition. See below for more information.
Many of the simple things that make life so much easier have been recently supplied. Nine fans, 25 lights, and two water pumps were installed. Ten water taps were fixed. The wall around the bathing area was repaired, and mirrors, clocks, game boards, pillows, sleeping mats, and two vegetable racks were also dispersed. The tracker has also been repaired so fresh food is more accessible and the girls can get a ride to school, avoiding the big scary men with guns.
Things are improving for the children, although there is still a great deal of need:
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