Hope, ambitions and happiness

My name is Vijayaraja Miruthiika and I am 17 years old. My father is a farmer and my mother is a housewife and we live in a small village in Batticaloa in the eastern part of Sri Lanka. During the war between the government army forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), we were displaced and sheltered in a refugee camp at Ariyampathi.

Refugee camp

In 2007, my village came under the control of the LTTE. The LTTE arrested us but the government forces pursued them and brought us to the refugee camp in Batticaloa town. I lived in the refugee camp for nearly a year and I had to stop my studies.

Before I did the Award I didn’t have any future plans or vision for my life - how could I think about my future? I lost everything. I was lonely in the camp and we did not have anything to do. It was not a good environment because we did not have even basic facilities. We slept in a big classroom in a vacated school building, we prepared two meals in a communal kitchen and there was one toilet for 20 people.

A new hope

I got to know about the Award programme from Nimal Karunarathne. He is a National Advisor for the Christian Children's Fund (CCF) and an Award trainer. One day he came to our camp and explained about the programme and we heard some success stories of young people who received their Award. I want be an art teacher and I thought the Award would be helpful in my future career and help me develop various skills like drawing and art.

I completed my Bronze level in August 2008. I did cricket for the Physical Recreation section with my friend and we played it in a school playground. The playground was not properly maintained because it belonged to a school that was not functioning but I enjoyed it. The CCF provided cricket materials and coaching facilities.

For the Skills section, I did drawing and I did camp service for the Service section. Everyday we cleaned the camp and we also helped the elderly people in the camp. On some days, our team helped the kitchen staff. I enjoyed it because I like giving service to others but my favourite part of the Award programme was the Skills section because I could improve my artistic skills through art and drawing. I like to draw beautiful sceneries and human bodies. For our expedition, we went to the Batticaloa lighthouse. It’s a very tall tower and has a powerful searching light to guide ships. We climbed to the top and could see very far.

Happiness

When I completed my Award I felt great happiness. I attended an Award ceremony and got my Award and certificate on 17 Jan 2009. I have improved my knowledge, met different people, and also I received a nice medal and certificate.

The Award has changed my behaviour in a positive way. Now I can handle any task and I am very active. Before I was afraid to go out without my mother but now I feel independent and can face any challenge. The Award has developed my knowledge and I am getting higher marks in my class subjects. My parents have now realised that I am an intelligent girl and they are willing to listen to my voice.

A budding artist

My ambition for the future is to save my community and develop my career as an artist. Now I have a vision and aim for my life - I want be a good art teacher. I understand that I am capable of doing anything and that I have talents like art and drawing."