Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA


Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation and the Projects Implemented by it

Tamils Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) was founded by Tamil refugees in India in 1985 and then was moved to the Tamil homeland (Northeast Sri Lanka) in 1987. It is run by a board of governors with offices in all 8 districts of the Northeast as well as an office in Colombo, the country's capital. With units in 14 countries overseas it receives funding from both the local, as well as expatriate, Tamil communities, local and International NGOs, UN Agencies, the World Bank, the Asian Development Fund as well as the Sri Lankan government. TRO has also established a Socio-Economic Development Bank with 5 branches for rural development.

TRO was registered as an NGO at the Provincial level under the Voluntary Social Services Act in 1993 and at the National level under a similar (Registration and Supervision) Act on 27th June 2002. It is a member of the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies (CHA) in Colombo and is a member of National Coordinating Committee of Triple 'R'.

TROs Annual Report for 2002 contains letters of appreciation from Mr. Bradman Weerakoon, Secretary to the Prime Minister, as well as the Political Wing of the LTTE, Dr Jayalath Jayawardana (the Minister for Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Refugees), Dr Rayappu Joseph, Bishop of Mannar, and the venerable Madampagama Assaji Nayaka Thero, co-chairperson of the Inter-Religious Peace Foundation.

TRO is a self-help organisation involved in rehabilitation, resettlement and reconstruction of those affected by the war, refugees as well as the disadvantaged, particularly women and children. Its purpose is to give much needed help and hope to those affected by the war by helping them to raise their level of income, to carry out capacity-building, to help empower them and to promote gender equality.

Programs implemented include Children's Welfare, Education, Food & Nutrition, Services for Women, Water & Sanitation, Mine Action, Resettlement & Housing, Health Services, Vocational Training, Social Economic Development and Emergency Relief.

TROs total operating costs in 2003 were Rs. 617.5 million. In 2003 Rs. 450 million was received from expatriate Tamils. This represents 73 % of the total funds received.

The projects under each program are detailed below:

1. Children's Welfare

a) Children's Homes: There are four children's homes in Vanni to provide care, security, basic education, recreation, human development and vocational training. In 2003, 1,800 children including school dropouts and the traumatised, benefited from these homes. Since 2003 five more children's homes in the East have been supported by TRO.

b) Homes and Schools for the disabled: This project is concerned with looking after children with impaired eyesight, hearing or special needs. Special educational facilities are provided in the homes and in government schools to help them. A number of children sat for O/L and A/L examinations and several won awards at district and provincial level competitions in sport, drawing, painting and music. In 2003 a number of beneficiaries benefited.

c) Pre-Schools: TRO coordinates the activities of all pre-schools throughout the Northeast. It has repaired 120 pre-schools and built 56 new ones. It employs 323 teachers and trained 72 and provided in-service training for 43. 11,250 children attended these schools in 2003. The paid teachers number 480.

d) Child Sponsorship: Foster parents in foreign countries can support children who have lost one or both parents in the war. In 2003, 700 children have benefited.

e) TRO International School: An International School with schematic theme park and playground where the study of English will be emphasised was opened in January 2004. This school currently has an intake of 150 children.

2. Education

a) The Every Child Back to School Program: This Program reintegrates children who have dropped out or have never attended school back into formal education. It started in the year 2002. At the end of 2003, 26,227 were reintegrated into schools.

b) The Assistance Scheme for Education Program: This program covers 538 children in 11 centres to become reintegrated into formal education. Allowances of Rs.2, 000 each was given to 52 students to start or continue their studies at universities. Allowances were also given to 250 volunteer teachers to cover the current shortage of teachers. Provisions of laboratory facilitators in village schools helped 270 students and provisions of public library services helped students, teachers and villagers. On average 40 people visited the library per day. In 2003, 104 students benefited under the university students aid programme, and 25 under-graduate teachers was appointed in remote area schools.
School run with TRO assistance

3. Food & Nutrition

a) Mother and Childcare Nutrition Centres: Located in 6 locations in the north these centres care for under-nourished children, and pregnant and lactating mothers in a residential setting until they reach adequate nutritional levels. Mothers are taught to maintain a good nutrition status. Started in 1999 this has been an on-going project and at the end of 2003, 920 have benefited.

b) Day Care Centres: Started in 1993, there are currently 7 centres in the Vanni where nutrition, food and pre-school education is given. Regular health checks and access to medical treatment are arranged.

c) Centre for the Production of Nutritional food: This project was implemented by the WWDF and funded by TRO where the food produced is distributed to Nutrition Centres in Northeast. In 2003, 4,500 children and pregnant & lactating mothers benefited.

4. Services for women

Residential centres are run in the five districts of the erstwhile Northern Province to care for destitute, abandoned and retarded women, and children to attend to their basic needs and help them to build their futures. Women in female-headed households who lost their husbands during the war are given training and interest-free revolving loans of Rs. 10,000 each to rear poultry.

5. Water & Sanitation

Activities include water resource management: Repair, restoration, construction, deepening and cleaning of public open & tube wells, sealing of unused wells, preservation of underground water, restoring small tanks & ponds, preventing water turning brackish or salination, provision of clean drinking water by bowsers; environmental protection; provision of public toilets; training of public officials; ensure prevention of water borne diseases.

6. Mine Action

a) TRO began demining in the Vanni areas in 1999 through the Humanitarian Demining Unit (HDU). During 1999 to 2002 HDU cleared nearly 120,000 mines and UXOs in the LTTE-controlled areas without international assistance. After signing of the MOU, TRO got assistance from Norwegian Peoples Aid (NPA) and the Mines Advisory Group (MAG). At the end of 2003, 170,000 mines and UXO'S had been cleared and total of 98,000 displaced people have returned to their homes. In 2003, TRO received further assistance for demining through agreements with Swiss Foundation for Mine Action and Danish Demining Group. At the end of 2003, 800 Deminers were trained in accordance with International Mine Action standards. Medical support was given to demining groups. Minefields covering 1,400,000 sq meters were fenced and 123,700 sq meters of land cleared. At the end of 2003 the demining programme was expanded in Batticaloa.

b) Mine risk education was provided extensively with the help of UNICEF and MAG.

c) Prosthesis Technical Institutes with branches in Kilinochchi, Jaffna & Trincomalee were established commencing in 1995 and are ongoing. Manufacture and fitting of artificial limbs & provision of physiotherapy services, wheel chairs and walking aids to those who have lost limbs or have impaired functions due to the war, landmines, birth or accident are part of the programme. In addition, vocational or trade skills training and help in finding employment is given, and grants or micro-credit are given to establish income-generating businesses. 2,542 persons benefited by the end of 2002 and 3000 persons at the end of 2003 benefited with INGOs and Tamil Diaspora assistance.

7. Resettlement & Housing Programme

a) In excess of 400,000 families were displaced throughout the Northeast. Data had to be collected and the families resettled. The project commenced in May 2002. In addition to repairing or rebuilding homes, roads, wells, irrigation systems, school systems need to be re-established. Support is also required to develop the social & economic environment for the village to prosper. People were mobilised to participate in project activities by planning, management, monitoring & organisation. One village was selected from each of the 8 districts. At the end of 2003, 3,000 families consisting of 15,000 persons benefited.
Refugee assistance 1998

8. Health Services

Services undertaken include repair of hospitals in 5 locations, reconstruction of one hospital, construction of a new hospital, and remodelling of an office to function as a hospital. Distribution was made of medical equipment received from overseas. TRO paid wages to nurses and midwives in two locations.

Commencing in 2001, permanent medical centres for free medical treatment throughout the Northeast and temporary health centres in remote areas in Vanni have been provided. Transport was provided for patients. 13,500 patients benefited by the end of 2003. Funding was provided for cataract surgery for 50 patients. Mobile medical services were provided in the three districts of the Vanni. Health clinics are conducted free, regular visits by clinical staffs are made, & training given to health volunteers. In the year 2003, 30, 000 persons benefited. In 2003, 6 eye camps were conducted. 1,556 adults and 2,600 children were given eye tests. 150 students were given eye glasses free of charge. Funds were provided for cataract operations for 121 persons. Indigenous medical herb gardens were developed and free consultations and treatment given to 3,926 persons.

9. Vocational Training

a) Conducting training in repair of office equipment, vehicle & communication equipment for unemployed youth for employment, or self-improvement. This commenced in 1995 and is ongoing. In 2003, 1600 IDPs were trained.

b) Commencing from March 2002, free computer training was given to youth, with priority given to poor students. In 2003, 600 youths benefited in all eight districts.

c) Sewing classes are given to unemployed women through the NGO, WWDF. Project commenced in February 2002. In 2003 the sewing centre was expanded to the East and 250 youths benefited from this programme.

d) Training in the production of tiles and bricks using locally available raw materials. Unskilled construction workers were provided on-the-job training. It commenced in June 2002. In 2003, 50 workers were trained.

10. Socio-Economic Development

a) North-East Irrigation and Agricultural Programme (NEIAP) funded by the World Bank.

22 villages in three districts of the East, while the erstwhile Northern Province was selected for social mobilisation, tank renovation and village development. In each village a social-mobilizer and in each district a NEIAP mobilization and implementation office have been established. The project commenced in February 2002 and expanded by 14 villages in 2003. At the end of 2003, 19,600 persons had benefited.

b) Social Mobilisation training in four districts was provided through workshops to develop the skills of volunteers who participate in the implementation of projects in participatory development approach, project management, risk analysis, financials, time management and social integration. This project commenced in June 2002. At the end of 2003, 160 youths had been trained.

c) A Socio-Economic Development Fund for savings and micro-credit was established by TRO in 1993 as a self-employment opportunities fund to help individuals to establish small business and other employment opportunities. In 1997 the scope was extended to cover agricultural ventures in rural villages and to encourage regular savings, particularly among school children. It is now called by a new name Socio-Economic Development Bank and operates in 6 locations in Vanni. The fund also provides loans to local NGOs to implement projects related to social welfare & humanitarian assistance programmes. 118 organisations and 3,915 persons have become members to-date.

d) Social Development Centres started in 1995, and now operate in three locations in Vanni. They provide vocational training free of charge and provide material & financial assistance to the needy.

e) Strengthening the capacity of local NGOs. Training in management & administration is given to those who work for the relief, rehabilitation & development of society. In some cases salaries are also paid. This commenced in 1989 and is ongoing. During 2003, 1200 CBOs members were trained.

f) Financial management and training consultancy is provided to local NGOs supported by TRO at the head office and a branch office to assist in preparation of accounts and monitoring and evaluating the projects. 60 local NGOs and other institutions benefited. In 2003 this was going on.

g) Home for the aged provides lodging and food for 65 aged people without family to care for them.

h) An agriculture farm was started to produce agricultural income & seedlings. 30 families earn a living in the farm.

i) Running of a printing press for the needs of TRO and its partner organisations who are charged low rates.

j) Road renovation was carried out on Chundikulam road to convert a sandy road to gravel road.

11. Emergency Disaster Relief was provided to other parts of Sri Lanka during disasters such as floods.

If more funds are received, TRO can undertake more activities that would benefit more people.

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Posted April 27, 2004