Much of my first week had been spent conducting a literature review on the material with which I planned to include in my report, though this continued intermittently a few days into the second week. As mentioned in the last blog post, I found it very interesting to see how long the Tamil Women Development Forum had been around. It was humbling to be analysing the work of many great and inspiring women’s activists and I often found myself engrossed while reading decade’s old literature that had been produced by them well past my leaving time – even when it was not directly relevant to my project!
It was during the second week, while in conversation with the leaders of the TWDF, that we had the idea of holding a fundraiser for a new project that the TWDF are planning to start in the very near future. Members had chosen a particularly badly affected small town and its surrounding rural areas in the war-affected Vanni region of northern Sri Lanka in which to carry out this project. The fabric of society here, as with much of the formerly war-torn areas, has completely broken down with people turning to alcohol and drugs in a bid to deal their psychological problems. This has resulted in increased levels of domestic abuse towards women and even the emergence of intra-communal sexual violence in the Tamil north and east, previously unheard of when this region was under rebel control.
Regardless of the sobering issues for which the TWDF are raising funds, there was always an emphasis on positivity and empowerment of the women of the area to solve their own problems, which really resonated with me. The women here are very resilient, having lived through untold suffering, and continue to provide not just for their families but the wider society at large. All they need is to be empowered with the skills that will give them livelihoods and the ability to solve their economic and social problems and then they will be more than capable of doing so.
This has prompted to make a long-term commitment to supporting this charity initiative beyond the duration of my project and well into 2016, when this fundraiser will take place. It will be exciting to be in charge of part of the creative content of this fundraiser as well as contacting potential sponsors for the event. To date we have chosen the venue, contacted acts and are in the process of procuring sponsors.