Sri Lanka: A. H.

Working among Tamils in a Sri Lankan war zone, A. H. bridges the faultlines that deeply divide communities in her country.

— A. H.

Working in the Sri Lankan war zone in the east, A. H., together with the affected families in this deeply divided community, struggles to overcome fear and respond to crippling life situations that attempt to crush the human spirit. Living in Batticaloa, A. H. is constantly engaged and involved with many women whose life journeys are intertwined with hers. She works in quiet intense one-to-one engagements with persons at different levels on many life situations, struggling with fears to increase space, and taking small steps.

In her personal and her professional life, A. H. has bridged ethnic faultlines. A high-school graduate, A. H. grew up in the south in a middle-class family. Today, she is living and working in the Batticaloa region in eastern Sri Lanka, which is a war zone. For over 20 years, A. H. has been a member of the Batticaloa Citizens' Committee (BCC), and has worked with Tamil victims of torture. She currently plays a crucial role in helping families, especially mothers' collectives, organize themselves to resist forced conscription and reconscription of their children by the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam). A deeply spiritual woman, A. H. was horrified by the violence, trauma, and tragedy unleashed by the war, and decided to devote her entire life to working toward peace and reconciliation. She is not funded by any organization, and refuses to accept funding from the many international NGOs that have flocked to Sri Lanka during these past conflict-riven 20 years. She shuns publicity-the courageous and inspirational work she does in the Batticaloa region is neither recognized nor acknowledged nationally. That makes A. H. an extraordinary anomaly on Sri Lanka's humanitarian landscape. A. H. campaigns tenaciously against ethnic chauvinism, militarism, and structures of inequality, be they gender based, economic, or political. She works among the Tamil population of eastern Sri Lanka, despite not being from this region.

Batticaloa Citizens' Committee (BCC)