Batticaloa Diocese is rebuilding the lives of families headed by women, eight years after the end of Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war. His Excellency Bishop Joseph Ponniah, a Tamil head of the diocese, worries about its 32,000 war widows, who mostly have to rely on income from odd jobs. Batticaloa located on the country’s east coast has a population of 525,142 consisting of majority Hindu Tamils as well as minority Muslims and Sinhalese. Thousands of women whose husbands were killed in the 26-yr conflict live in poverty and are subjected to social stigma.
As reported by ucanindia.in, His Grace Bishop Ponniah remarked that “We help them through a scholarship program to educate their children and conduct special vocational training to uplift their standard of living.” Fr. Geron De Lima is the director of the local Catholic Caritas welfare organization that provides services across religious and ethnic lines, this also includes training a handloom weaving and Palmyrah palm handicraft production. Between 15 and 20 women are given certificates after six months of training by the Sri Lanka Palmyrah Development Board (PDB), which then purchases what they produce and Caritas pays the salary for instructors.
Batticaloa in 2012 was formed to become the 13th diocese of Sri Lanka, earlier, it was a part of Trincomalee-Batticaloa Diocese.