For Sister Angela Fernando, the mission she undertook among the victims of Sri Lanka’s civil war means “allowing everyone to experience the great love of God and Mary.”
Last month, the nun from the Congregation of the Good Shepherd passed away and the burial took place at the Good Shepherd Convent premises at Nayakkanda in Hendala. The past few years had been the most “intense” in her life, she told Asia News.
Her mission, which frequently brought her to northern Sri Lanka, especially to the north-eastern district of Mullaitivu, began almost by accident.
“In 2011, I found myself at a rally in Colombo. There, I met a Muslim woman, who said she was from Mullaitivu. Almost as an afterthought, I took her phone number. Two days later, I felt an irresistible desire to go there and show my solidarity to these people,”
After an initial telephone conversation with the woman, Sister Angela got in touch with the Mullaitivu Women’s Resettlement and Development Federation (MDWRDF), a women’s group that includes Tamil, Muslim and Sinhalese women from seven different villages.
“At that time, those places had no electricity,” she said. “Thus, we nuns along with Mothers and Daughters of Lanka, brought solar-powered lamps to allow local children to study and prepare for their exams.”
Since then, the relationship with the people of Mullaitivu became permanent. Indeed, “We continued to work with women’s groups to promote their overall emancipation,”
Sr. Angela said.
“Through our work of solidarity, we developed school curricula. We visited six schools and donated books, backpacks and other school supplies to some 450 pupils. We also organised a three-day trip to Colombo for the poorest students.”
“In 2013 and 2014, we tried a more direct approach in terms of support and reconciliation. To do this, we organised groups of six volunteers, each personally visiting families in the villages to listen to their stories and find solutions to their problems,”
Sr Angela said.
“In 2013, five groups visited the villages of Poodanvial, Kanukkerney, Ponnagar, Ambalavan Pokkanai, and Kepappilavu. In 2014, we focused on Mullivaikkal East and West, sending three groups there.”