FCCISL CHEER Project gives a new lease of life to 120 ex-combatants

FCCISL CHEER project has made the efforts of the Government to rehabilitate the ex combatants simple and also have proved to the world that Sri Lanka could handle effectively and efficiently such rehabilitation programs said to be complicated and difficult.” Said Minister of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms when he addressed the ex- combatants and the distinguished gathering at the certification ceremony organized by FCCISL at the auditorium of the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management.

“Dear Children” Hon Minister addressed the Ex combatants “ you have now got a free and safe country, you have got the skills and talents and you have the capacity and competence to begin a new lease of life. We have no intention in increasing the number of rehabilitation camps and the people. His Excellency the President gave me a task of minimizing the numbers as fast as possible. I have made Tamil compulsory to all State officials. Sinhalese will have to learn Tamil and the Tamils will have to learn Sinhala. This will bridge the linguistic gap and provide greater opportunity to interact with all communities. I wish you all success “ he concluded.

Training was provided at the Handwerk Centre at Malegoda Payagala. The certificates were jointly awarded by the Handwerkskammer Koblenz, Germany, national Construction Association of Sri Lanka and FCCISL. In addition they also received a tool kit and also bank pass book with the savings from the pocket money received.

FCCISL CHEER project ( CHAMBER-NETWORK ENGAGEMENT IN ECONOMIC REHABILITATION) is a part of the EU-ACAP project funded by the European Union (under its EU-Assistance for Conflict Affected People) for 2009/2013 Programme and implemented by OXFAM GB in association with FCCISL and its Member District Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Ampara, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Vavuniya and Mannar.

President FCCISL Kosala Wickramanayake welcoming every one said “Today marks another day of history for the FCCISL. This is because FCCISL becomes the first chamber in the country, along with the support and assistance of the member chambers in Ampara, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Vavuniya and Mannar to formally build capacity of one hundred and twenty ex-combatants, who are currently under the Bureau of Commissioner General of Rehabilitation, to pursue their choice of economic activity. We are so thankful to OXFAM GB and EU- ACAP project for providing guidance and financial assistance towards this initiative. I am also thankful to Handwerkskammer Koblenz Germany and its representative Peter Rechmann and the Construction Association of Sri Lanka for the wonderful partnership. He also acknowledged the constribution by the Gvoernments of Netherland and Germany for the financial assistance towards construction and equipment. He said that he is very grateful to Ven. Malegoda Nanda Nayaka Thero who had been a tower of strength to the program and also providing us with the land for the construction of the centre.

This certification ceremony, most probably the first of its kind handled by any chamber in the world, proves beyond doubt the strength of collaboration between key stake holders in contributing to initiatives of national importance while working within the operational frameworks and objectives of respective stake holders. In this instance they are European Union, OXFAM GB, FCCISL and the Government of Sri Lanka.

Under this initiative, CHEER project intends contributing towards the achievement of key result 1 of the EU ACAP Project, which is to ensure that women and men of IDP families, have capacity to pursue their choice of economic activities to significantly improve their household income and food security. In addition, it will also contribute to another key result of the EU ACAP project, which is to strengthen relationship between different ethnic communities.

Keeping the core goal in mind, the trainees were carefully selected for training by the Bureau of the Commissioner General Rehabilitation based on their first preference of the vocation they want to be engaged in under normal circumstances. They were also selected from districts in the North and the East where EU ACAP program is being implemented. Batches of thirty each followed courses in Household Electrical Wiring, Carpentry, Masonry and Welding. The Handwerkskammer Koblenz released their experts in welding and carpentry to supervise training at the centre. The second batch was fortunate to obtain direct advice from the experts. Trainees in welding were tested by the experts for German Welding Society standards and received special certificates of participation.

In addition, to following the one hundred hour training, which comprised of theory and practice of the respective fields of training, trainees were also provided with a session of counselling and positive thinking. Training sessions were, residential and conducted at the Handwerk Centre in Malegoda Payagala situated in the premises of the Malegoda Pushparama Maha Viharaya. The Chief Incumbent of the Maha Viharaya Venerable Malegoda Nantha Nayaka Thero has been a guiding light to all the trainees from the very first day of the training encouraging them to participate at various functions and religious ceremonies at the Viharaya, strengthening their bonds with the Sinhalese communities, for many trainees being the very first such experience.

These trainees will receive further on the job training under Army Engineers. On the completion of their rehabilitation they will be re-integrated to the society under the direction and supervision of the Bureau of the Commissioner General Rehabilitation. The trainees would then hold a internationally valid certificate of vocational education, experience certification and certification of clearance from the Sri Lanka Army and are in a position to secure jobs within their communities or even secure jobs overseas with further experience. Once re-integrate the details of the trainees would be available Bureau of CGR. FCCISL and NCASL networks would support them to explore employment opportunities.

Ven. Malegoda Nanda Nayaka Thero, delivering Anushasana said that the His Excellency the President made a great effort to bring peace to the country so that all communities may live together peacefully. He added that the efforts by the Commissioner General and the FCCISL in this initiative to provide a new lease of life to these children is a noble efforts and this should be an example to the others. He was the view that the trainees were very well mannered and had the capacity of absorbing fast whatever taught to them.

Hon Deputy Minister of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms Wijithamuni Zoysa in his address said that the responsibitiy of the building back the country is the responsibility of every one. These our our brothers from the North. We have no diference. Even the colour . My skin colour is similar to yours. Lets work together to build our motherland”
Chief of Staff of Sri Lanka Army and former Commissioner Genral of Rehabilitation Major General Daya Rathnayaka, said “ I have spoken to most of you personally and understand them well. They came to the custody of the army for no fault of theirs. They were fearing death when they came in. Today thanks to FCCISL and the leadership of Kosala Wickrmanayake, its President and efforts of the Bureau of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation, through love and care extended to them, they have become normal selves.

Willy Vandenberghe, Head of Operations, European Union and delegation to Sri Lanka and Maldives, Guest of Honour of the occasion said that he was so happy to be part of the rehabilitation effort under the EU-ACAP project, with a overall commitment to the extent of LKR.7 Billion.

Brig. Sudantha Ranasinghe, Commissioner General of Rehabilitation also addressed the gathering while Dr. Thusiatha Tennakoon Secretary General of FCCISL delivred the vote of thanks.

Minister of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms, D.E.W. Gunasekara graced the occasion and Deputy Minister Wijithamuni Zoysa, Willy Vandenberghe, Head of Operations, European Union and delegation to Sri Lanka and Maldives, Major General Daya Rathnayaka, Chief of Staff of Sri Lanka Army, Major General Sumith Manawadu, Overall Operations Commander Colombo of Sri Lanka Army, Brig. Sudantha Ranasinghe Commissioner General of Rehabilitation were among a distinguished gathering of representatives of Embassies, UN, International NGOs, Government and the Private Sector.