It was their father who had encouraged the girls to attend an English medium school.

These Lankan refugee sisters graduated from school but they need your helpImage: Sri Lankan refugee camp/ By European Commission DG ECHO - Flickr
news Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 21:05
Written by  Pheba Mathew

Eighteen-year-old Vashini lives in the Puzhal refugee camp on the outskirts of Chennai with her 17-year-old sister Yalini and mother. Fearing for their lives, her family had fled Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka during the civil war ten years ago.

“We were staying at our relative’s house in Jaffna and people started saying that Sri Lankan Tamils were being burnt alive by Sinhalese. Only our family escaped from there and reached India,” narrates Vashini.

Tragedy followed the family in India. Last Tuesday, Vashini’s father died after being electrocuted. It was also the same day the Class XII results were announced. Vashini scored 84.4 per cent in the Board Exams while her sister scored 887 out of 1200. A day of joy and celebration turned to one of grief and mourning.

It was their father who had encouraged the girls to attend an English medium school. With no permanent job, he worked as a driver to pay for his daughters’ education, dreaming of a bright future for them.   

But his death has crushed their dreams, as Vashini and Yalini feel a sense of hopelessness. Vashini had hoped to become a doctor but with their father being the sole breadwinner, she has to abandon her childhood ambition, unable to support her dreams. “Now, I want to just get a degree, I want to get into an engineering college or do microbiology,” says Vashini.

While a social worker at the Martha Foundation have promised to help the two students, financial problems are a major issue for those in refugee camps. “The youth who have graduated are not able to find jobs here. Many of them also drop out of schools and colleges in the camp due to peer pressure,” said a social worker.

Vashini and Yalini plan to move back to Sri Lanka after their graduation. They hope to re-unite with their family in Jaffna and rebuild their future in the country that was once home. 

To help the students, please call: 9677212477

Note: Sri-Lankan refugee sisters did not want their photograph to be published.