Ashok Gladston Xavier

Senior Lecturer Department of Social Work, Loyola College-Chennai

January 2009: I continue to teach at Loyola College. This semester I teach a subject called Community Organization and Social Action at the masters level. In the afternoons I continue to volunteer for the Organization for Eelam Refugee Rehabilitation (OfERR) every day. These Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka have lived for many years in these camps. Whenever I have vacations or short holidays I go to Sri Lanka to meet with refugees there.

The situation in Sri Lanka is not very encouraging. The government has vowed to clean up the LTTE. The LTTE in turn is using the people as human shields. There are about 250,000 people trapped with the LTTE. The government in the name of surgical strikes is shelling the civilians. There are no words to describe the situation of the civilians.

Here in India there are several protests and rallies that are conducted in support of the civilians, but these cries are falling on deaf ears. Not minding that, we still keep crying out loud so that the world’s attention would be attracted.

Following her completion of her PhD program, Florina has returned to Chennai and we are happily together again.

January 2006: In the post tsunami scenario we are actively engaged in lobbying and advocacy to rehabilitate the poor people who are still reeling in the temporary shelters. In order to take stock of the situation, we carried out a study over the last month in 178 sites. The following is an article written based on the study.

2005 note: After a lot of thinking and hard work I am now ready for a Conflict Transformation workshop. This is the first of a series of workshops planned for the Ceylonese Refugees in India . After returning to India, the Organization for Eelam Refugee Rehabilitation put a peace collar around my neck and asked me get involved in their peace work. The offer was irresistible as this gave me a playground to practice my newly acquired tools from my tool box.

The peace workshops are planned at three levels. First, 30 trainers receive training, second, they take it to the four regions and train the field staff, and finally, the field staff teach it to the people. Trainings in dialogue and in advocacy will soon follow.   The first training of trainers is happening in April.

I have tried my best to work an agenda that would provide a basic understanding of conflict transformation and skills. This will be followed by a second level.

As I go into it I am filled with a lot of uncertainties and concerns: All the materials are in English and the training is in Tamil. How do I contextualize what I learned? How do I adapt the training methods to this situation? How do I include the indigenous ideas and methods of CT? I am braving the effort of going ahead with the workshop and will learn lessons from it. I hope to consider this as an extension of CJP.