A narration of hope from Mannar | Sunday Observer

A narration of hope from Mannar

18 April, 2021

My meeting with 20-year-old Jathusha Khristhurasa who lives in Andankulam in Mannar with her teenaged brother and widowed mother took place during a detailed visit I undertook to the North in the past fortnight covering Vavuniya, Killinochchi, Mullaitivu, Mannar and Jaffna and including some of the Jaffna islets.

Visiting the remotest of areas affected by long years of terror means that one has to hear pleas of people still struggling for basic needs.

With the international community being party to intriguing agendas and obsessed with fault finding of the Government and totally lacking a realistic understanding of the actual needs of the Northern people, there is no visible current international assistance to the government for providing livelihood, entrepreneurship training, and completing the housing related assistance begun in 2010. Tamil politicians might as well be in another planet working out their own agendas and seemingly purposely avoiding the solving of the actual day to day issues of people. The Northern people do not ever see them.


Yet amidst these difficulties the innocent enthusiasm and hope of children and teenagers shine through like the sun.

The parents of these children scout the terrain for labour work, the only option they have (even this is scarce) and are happy if they get at least two day’s work a week, earning about Rs. 500 a day which will provide at least one meal. a day.

Nevertheless, with the miraculous quality of youth, children and teenagers seem unscathed by the hopelessness that engulfs the older generation.

The parents - most of the time it is one parent, as there are many war widows and women headed households in the North, starve themselves giving whatever food and small luxuries such as money for tuition classes, books and clothes for their children.

The singular hope these parents cling to is that their sons and daughters will do well academically and never fall into the trap of devious terrorists and those who champion such dastardly causes overtly and subtly. Their hope for their children is within this country.

With a few distractions and a simple way of life, the children focus fully on their education, nurture immense hope of a better future. They are very successful in diverse fields such as arts, general knowledge and sports, making use of whatever meager opportunity they get.

The story of Jathusha Khristhurasa is one of these success stories in the making. The featuring of her story is part of an ongoing series of writings in this paper, highlighting diverse individual narrations from different parts of the North, especially those of youth and young adults. This is aimed at assisting in the reconciliation and human development process begun by the Lankan government from May 2009.

What is exceptional about Jathushaisher is the unbridled enthusiasm. This quality stands out against the bleak backdrop she is in like a super bright beacon of light against a cloudy horizon. I speak to her at her house, watched by her 83 year old sick grandmother sleeping on a bed in the small verandah.

Jathusha only falters ever so slightly when speaking of her father, a doctor, who had died in the war when she was five years old. Quickly collecting herself she puts her dreams into words. Her dreams are many! She wants to be a journalist in the print media in the English medium. She also wants to be a Tamil language news reader. But she says she may later also want to read news in English and even Sinhala! She explains with almost palpable dynamism, how she watches and replicates the manner of television news presenters.

She says she knows how to deliver the news over television and carry out TV programs ‘just like them.’ She then says she has started writing a sketch of a newspaper article in English on how she wants to improve her hometown Mannar.

She did not know who to send it to but was confident ‘someone will come’ and now that I am here she assuredly says she will post her finalised article to me shortly. I marvel at both her spoken English which is perfect and her use of the subconscious confidence and auto suggestion far better than any psychologist.


This youth is a remarkable achievement for her mother, Khristhurasa Pathima who carries heavy bricks or walks miles searching for a work and digs the earth for 10 hours a day on other people’s land for a pittance. Having no agriculture land of their own (the dilemma of many Northern people) Jathusha’s mother does not even have the recourse of cultivating vegetables to help at least their day to meals.

However, the mother does not burden her daughter by telling her woes to her but allows Jathusha to dream and plan and use every minute of the day to further herself in knowledge. Like most single mothers in the North heading households, she thus provides the child the needed mental space for the developing of unfaltering hope in her great dreams.

Jathusha’s perfect English knowledge has been achieved by enrolling in a private academy in her district providing Diploma level qualification in the English language. This is achieved by the family by skipping meals.

Jathusha is also keen to learn Sinhala and says all youth of her age too has the same interest but that her school has no Sinhala teacher although they sit for the Sinhala exam.

She asks me if I can write about this and get it corrected. I tell her yes but that she should also write about it and she in all earnestness takes a sheet of paper and starts taking copious notes on ‘Sinhala officials’ she can talk to about it. I say ‘well you can also speak to the President’ and her response is a nonplussed ‘yes.’ I have no doubt she will achieve this too and inform President Gotabaya Rajapaksa of all the social issues in her district.

About the article she wants to write about; on how she wants to improve her home town she asks for my address to post the article. I realise she has no computer, a luxury few youth in the North have, and therefore do not highlight this factor but simply ask her to post the article.

She quickly does some kind of mental calculation and says maybe she can buy a computer in a year if she works very hard ‘as a news presenter and journalist.’ Her belief is so strong that in her mind she has already achieved her goal. She says she has followed an IT course and that ‘although she has no computer’ that she knows how to use one very well.

With a wide smile she says she will be getting the licence for her scooter the next day.

She does not own a scooter or even have one on loan but she has under gone the training and is getting the license in the hope that she will ‘one day soon own one.’ Her brother Kishon is still continuing his education and she wishes to take the burden off from her mother in being the main breadwinner of the family.

I am supposed to be interviewing her but it turns out the other way around as she asks me how she can get a university degree specialising in Mass media and notes down every bit of information I give her. Her GCE Ordinary Levels she has passed very well having studied at the Andankulam Maha Vidyalaya and has sat for her Advanced Level Exam in the Commerce stream at the Mannar Sithivinayahar Hindu college scoring good results.


She loves reading and says she wants to read ‘every kind of book’ in all languages used in Sri Lanka and covers themes ranging from science to geography!

“There is so much of knowledge in the world. I want to know all of them. I want to use this knowledge to make the world a better place and Sri Lanka a very nice place,” she said with a vision rare among the privileged youth of Lanka whose main preoccupation is leaving their motherland for foreign countries.

Before I leave she telephones her best friend, Sebastian Sainica living close by that has got university entrance in the Bio Science stream at the Kelaniya University and readying to come to Colombo. Both of them are apparently the highest academic scorers in school.

I speak to this youth also and listen to her excitedly saying how she will next week go to the university hostel in Kelaniya and how she looks forward to having ‘Colombo friends.’

As I conclude my meeting what is clear is that the fulfillment of the hopes of Sri Lankan children and youth, wherever they are, whether in the battle scarred North or poverty scarred South, is not just the duty of the government but that of every single Sri Lankan.

It is supporting these next generations that will ensure Sri Lanka does not fall to diverse traps and machinations aimed at destabilising the country.

NOTE: This article is part of a series that will shed light on the needs and aspirations of the North-Eastern citizens of Sri Lanka, recovering from 30 years of terror.