Sad plight of the indigenous community in Ampara

Sad plight of the indigenous community in Ampara

Written by Staff Writer

16 Jun, 2019 | 8:58 pm

COLOMBO (News 1st): This a story on the sad plight of the indigenous community, in Ampara who hold a great historic as well as cultural importance. A society that lived in harmony with mother nature is at present facing a situation that threatens their very existence.

We undertook a treacherous journey to a rural village in the Pollebedda area in Ampara, in search of an indigenous community who are forced to live in a village than in their inherent abode, the forest.

The health condition of the Pollebedda indigenous leader is declining, amidst this, his children and grandchildren are struck with extreme poverty, after being forced to adapt to the regular society. These people have been hit hard without being able to fulfil their needs especially hunger.

It was way back in the 1940s that a saviour named Dr R.L Spittel arrived in the area and travelled deep into the jungles in order to provide medications to the Veddhas who suffered from various diseases. Dr Spittel would have never imagined that these people whose lives were inextricably intertwined with the forest and the wild animals that lived in it will one day end up below the poverty line, and turn into labourers.

From 10 families during 1940s the Mahaoya Pollebedda Indigenous village today consists of only around 300 families. A glimpse of hope was blowing in the wind as the Rambaken Oya was declared open in 2013, however it proved to be a white elephant as the villagers were deprived of land ownership to engage in agriculture. Now they are yet again forced, this time to go out and engage in fishing in order to satisfy their hunger.

A senior villager D.B Gunawardene’s only request is to provide them with at least 2 acres of agrarian land. A society who are facing a situation that threatens their very existence, are not requesting for luxury villas, comfortable sofas, or beds, what they only ask for is a peaceful place to sleep and a secured future for their next generation, their children.

Who will understand the suffering of this mother who sacrifices a meal in order to feed her elder child, also not letting her infant cry in hunger? We hope the relevant authorities will provide a feasible solution for their issues.

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