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Reflections from Mullivaikkal: Remembering What was Lost Part 2

As part of a series marking 11 years since the atrocities of Mullivaikkal, we share a reflection from the homeland.

The following reflection was transcribed verbatim from an interview conducted by the Adayaalam Centre for Policy Research.

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I am 22 years old. My right hand was amputated during the end of the war in Valainjarmadam. I was 10 years old at the time and I became disabled. I am right-handed. It was very difficult to learn to write with the left hand after I lost my right hand. At the beginning no matter how much I tried, my writing didn’t come out well. However, now I am able to use my left hand to do everything I need to do. I sat for Ordinary Level exams twice and now I have passed the A / L exam as well.

I didn’t get any proper medical care after the incident. We were preparing to leave Mullivaaikaal  by boats. Had I received medical help immediately after my injury, there would have been no need for amputating my arm. But when I finally received the medical help I needed, there was no choice other than removing my arm, I wouldn’t have lived very long otherwise.

When I returned to school after the war, I could not go straight to learning the lessons. I needed to start all over again like a grade one child, learning to write from the beginning. After spending a year getting used to writing with my left hand, I was able to return to classes. Not only did I lose my hand due to the war, I lost motivation as well and was not able to focus on studies.

Although I lost a hand, I was treated like a fully able person when studying. I was not given any concessions on the basis of being an amputee learning to use his left-hand. Even during tournaments and competitions, I had to compete with others who are not like me. Learning to use a hand you are not quite familiar with is not an easy task, and tasks are very challenging when you have only one hand. I was not given any privileges during exams, such as giving more time. However, I have completed my education now. I was hoping for a better result than what I have got. Maybe if I was given more time during exams or other concessions considering my condition,I would have gotten better results. Or, if I hadn't lost my right hand, I would have done better and gone to university with good results.

Before the war, many students from the Vanni region would go to university. Now there are very few students from the Vanni who successfully complete their education or make it to university. This happened because of the war. Although there are many war-disabled students, there is still no formal support systems or structures to support them. Some informal help came from charities and the diaspora, but, If there is a proper system to support us and consider our concerns, we can improve our education and find jobs in future.
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See more reflections on our website www.RememberMay2009.com