Jaffna and Point Pedro: A Promise Fulfilled

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September 21st 2013
Published: September 23rd 2013
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Francis' Lovely FamilyFrancis' Lovely FamilyFrancis' Lovely Family

Francis' brother-in-law Gowteesan, his sister Mary Ajantha, his Mother and his Father
Jaffna and Point Pedro: A Promise Fulfilled

Part of the reason we wanted to visit Sri Lanka is because in the past year we have made friends with many Sri Lankan asylum seekers in Sydney. So of course we offered to take presents and messages to their families back home.

Francis Nimalraj, who is now employed near Berowra thanks to Azadeh's help, stopped by after work one day with some boxes of gourmet chocolates for us to take to his family. He knew we were going to his home place of Jaffna in the far north. These were not the only gifts we carried to Sri Lanka, but they were the last to get delivered, due to our idiosyncratic pathway through the country.

What we didn't know was that Jaffna is both a city and a large peninsula region. So when I rang his English-speaking brother-in-law Gowteesan, I was surprised when he said he was 30 km away and couldn't come see us till the next day. I also didn't know that he had no car and would be leaving very early in the morning to get to us by bus. In the end, he actually got a
The Welcoming Committee with PhilThe Welcoming Committee with PhilThe Welcoming Committee with Phil

Francis' brother-in-law Gowteesan (right) and his friend (left) with Phil at Nullar Temple.
friend to give him a ride all that long hot way on the back of his motorbike and they showed up early Saturday morning. After some tea, toast, eggs and talk, we took a walk over to the huge and famous Nullar Temple and walked all the way around it.

Then we all piled into a taxi and rode back to Point Pedro, where Francis comes from. We were greeted most warmly by his parents, who seemed delighted to meet people who knew Francis in Australia. They gave us cold drinks and we chatted, with some able English help by the taxi driver, then they skyped Francis, who at that moment was on the train in Sydney. He eventually got to Milson's Point and was using his iphone to show us Sydney Harbour and the Opera House and Gowteesan showed him back the postcard we'd just given them of exactly the same view! After that we had a generous lunch including delicious prawns.

Although we thought we were doing a favour for Francis, in the end we benefited so much. It was the first time we'd been in a home with a family, so it was a very
Martha and Phil with GowteesanMartha and Phil with GowteesanMartha and Phil with Gowteesan

From our hotel we all took a walk around the Temple.
special day for us.

While in Point Pedro we got to ride around the town and along the seashore and check out the local fishing scene and the beautiful beach.

There were so many wrecked buildings. Some were from the 2004 tsunami that had also devastated the north coast of Sri Lanka, which was news to us. Some of the damage was from the war. Some was just old buildings that had collapsed. We gave up asking.

Additional photos below
Photos: 21, Displayed: 21


Francis' family with MarthaFrancis' family with Martha
Francis' family with Martha

After a pleasant visit, a delicious lunch, and a SKYPE with Francis on his new phone as he rode the train to Central Station in Sydney(!) it was time to head back to Jaffna City. Thank you so much!!
Francis Catholic Church in Point PedroFrancis Catholic Church in Point Pedro
Francis Catholic Church in Point Pedro

The site of many important moments in Francis' life.
Emptying fish netsEmptying fish nets
Emptying fish nets

Now the big job--disentangling the little fishies from the net.
Fish dry by road Fish dry by road
Fish dry by road

The woman under the shelter was gutting each fish and then they were laid out beside the road to dry in the hot sun.
Fish dryingFish drying
Fish drying

Each little fish represents WORK by the fisher people.
Fishing boats Fishing boats
Fishing boats

Typical boats used by the local people.
Fishing boats at the new jetty Fishing boats at the new jetty
Fishing boats at the new jetty

New wharf built after the 2004 tsunami destroyed the old one.
Hauling fish up the beachHauling fish up the beach
Hauling fish up the beach

No conveyor belts here.
Today's catch in a basket Today's catch in a basket
Today's catch in a basket

How much will these fish earn?
Loading fish into truckLoading fish into truck
Loading fish into truck

And off to the market with hopes for a good return.
Damaged buildingsDamaged buildings
Damaged buildings

War damage? Tsunami damage? These people suffered a lot.
P&M at Tsunami hole P&M at Tsunami hole
P&M at Tsunami hole

Behind us, the big hole in the wall was made by a boat driven by the tsunami wave.
Tub with holesTub with holes
Tub with holes

For??? Keeping fish in next to the boat after they were caught?
Near-shore fishing boat Near-shore fishing boat
Near-shore fishing boat

These constructions are used for fishing just off the shore.
Small boat handling Small boat handling
Small boat handling

Gowteesan demonstrates how these little "boats" are handled.
Point Pedro beach Point Pedro beach
Point Pedro beach

Off to have a look at Sri Lanka's most northerly coast.
Beach coastline Beach coastline
Beach coastline

Beautiful white sandy beach. Not exactly crowded either.
Tsunami ghost townTsunami ghost town
Tsunami ghost town

These houses were struck by the tsunami and no one wants to rebuild and live there.

23rd September 2013

What an education!
...your trip is turning out to be. It's hard to begin to imagine the lives others live; you are very privileged. Love to you both. M xx
23rd September 2013

Such a meaningful reunion via a box of chocolate. Also the place looks so peaceful and calm.
24th September 2013

Life Goes On
As I looked at your photos, Your photos show the indomitable human will which perseveres despite circumstances which could devastate the spirit as well as the buildings. Were the chocolates molten? What a beautiful place!!
24th September 2013

The question is
The question is how come a person having such a family back home became a refugee in a developed country....?? HOW?

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