Although the civil war in Sri Lanka officially ended in 2009, the country is still recovering from more than 25 years of internal conflict. The war turned many families—particularly in the northern provinces—into refugees in their own country. In honor of World Refugee Day, we bring you a story from one formerly war-torn Sri Lankan community that is full of hope for the future.
In a far corner of the North Central Province—surrounded by acres of fields—lies Wahalkada, a farming village where the residents are beginning to rebuild their lives after years of war.
Chaturangi, a seventh grader at nearby Wahalkada Vidyalaya School, exemplifies the hopeful spirit that permeates her entire community. Along with 53 other girls at her school, Chaturangi was selected last year to participate in Room to Read’s Girls’ Education program. With a younger brother in preschool, she is committed to completing her education and setting a good example. “When I was accepted into the program, I knew this was my moment to change my life,” she shares candidly. “Until I got that opportunity, I did not know how I would continue on in school.”
Single-minded in her ambition, Chaturangi dreams of becoming a doctor—inspired by a female physician that treated her as a child. After participating in the goal-setting portion of Room to Read’s life skills training last year, Chaturangi drew out a goals chart to hang on the wall of her tiny bedroom—neatly arranged beside her “study space” and a treasured stack of books. “Those guidelines have opened my eyes,” she says of the chart. “I now have a plan to work towards and feel more positive.”
This newfound confidence has helped Chaturangi excel in school, especially in science—her favorite subject. Teachers have also noted a marked difference in her participation in extracurricular activities. She often writes poems about her family and participates in school debates.
Chaturangi’s parents attribute much of their daughter’s success to her social mobilizer. “I am so thankful for the great service she is doing for my daughter,” says Chaturangi’s mother. “She coaches her through all the skills needed for a girl in this part of the country and always believes in my daughter.”
“I want to be a good doctor,” Chaturangi says with confidence. “I want to serve the deserving people in the villages who are just like me.”
Learn more about Room to Read's work in Sri Lanka.