Nun Helps War Widows of Sri Lanka to Rebuild Their Lives

Published 21 September 2017  |
Sister Nichola Emmanuel, left, visits Tamil Catholic villagers of Mullikulam in April.

Three decades of civil war with Sri Lankan security forces have resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of husbands, leaving their wives helpless and downtrodden. Sr Nichola Emmanuel from the congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Mary and Joseph has been providing humanitarian assistance and advisory to the widows in war-damaged Mannar.

The Sri Lankan secessionist war began in 1983 and ended with the defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009, with an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 people killed. The war in resulted 90,000 war widows in the north and east of the country.

Sr Emmanuel, 70-year-old nun, supports 100 "women headed" families to restore livelihoods and educate their children, according to LA Croix International.

"I looked after people in their spiritual activities like Sunday Mass and helped those who were injured and admitted to hospitals," she said.

"We helped them by providing food, clothes, and medication with the help of the church," she added.

Sr Emmanuel served refugees at the sprawling Menik Farm camp established by the government in 2009. Nearly 200,000 displaced people were take care there.

Despite challenging situations, she also fights for legal aid for widows and children.

"I face many challenges when I take part in demonstrations with the families of disappeared people and political prisoners," she said.

Mary Stella, 47, a mother of three sons, had lost her husband during the war and she was sent to Menik Farm before returning to her native place, Puthukudirippu, in 2012.

"She [Sr Emmanuel] treats us like a mother," said Stella as she noted the help she received from the nun.


More News in Sri Lanka