Wanakkam - Spreading Harmony
As written by Rtr. Dulshi Pieris,
Rotaract Club of University of Moratuwa immensely values unity among diverse cultures, emphasizing that the beauty of the world lies in the diversity of its people.
Project “Wanakkam” was recently conducted together with Rotaract Club of Nallur Heritage, amidst the intention of helping young minds in Jaffna to pursue their education without difficulties. We also had the opportunity to embrace the rich Northern culture and build an everlasting friendship with those fellow Rotaractors.
Our team, consisting of seven members, set out for this three-day project. We arrived at Jaffna early in the morning and our first task was to drop off our luggage at our lodging, “Fort House”. Then we headed to the town for breakfast in order to gain the momentum for an excitement-filled day.
When we arrived at the ‘Nallur Kandaswamy Temple’ later, the fellow Rotaractors of Nallur Heritage greeted us warmly. They took us on a tour inside this magnificent temple built to honour ‘Lord Shiva’ and portrayed the history and significance of the place.
Then it was time to visit the first school under the project, “Avarangal Nadaraja Ramlinka Vidyalaya”. An assembly had been arranged gathering the principal, teachers, and students where we donated new shoes and books. Afterwards, we were offered refreshments, but the greatest offering was the grateful smiles on those innocent little faces.
The second school “Eralia Sri Murugan Vidyalaya” was situated about 20 minutes away from Ramlinka Vidyalaya, and on the way there, we came across the legendary “Nilaweli well” which is renowned for the fact that its water never dries up. According to our Nallur friends, this miracle is because King Rama had shot an arrow on that spot on the ground to quench his thirst during his visit to Ceylon.
As we reached the school, we could witness students playing football with great enthusiasm. We handed out the sports equipment we had brought for them and wished them all the luck to achieve their goals in the future. Furthermore, the principal appreciated the English language books that we donated to the library. The next task was to paint the only existing two-story building in the school. The painting was completed in no time as we enjoyed it a lot. Then it was time for an authentic Jaffna lunch. It was memorable and before leaving, we didn’t forget to play some football with those kids and appreciate their talents.
Next was the Kankasanthurai beach visit everybody was anxiously waiting for. We enjoyed the cheerful ocean waves and watched the sunset over the horizon. The end of the first day was gradually approaching as we had dinner with our Nallur friends and bid them farewell to return to our guest house.
The first school we were to visit on the second day was in Delft island. Our team headed off to the Kurikkadduwan jetty where we had intended to join our Nallur friends. We had our breakfast there and then got into a boat to set off to Delft island. It was an hour-long journey and it was quite remarkable. As we reached the island, we hired a tourist truck to carry us to our destination. Along the way, we noticed how unique the island was with its ecosystem and culture.
The principal and a few little girls of the “Roman Catholic Ladies’ College” welcomed us heartily. We distributed new shoes and books among those youngsters. After that, we also paid a quick visit to a nearby preschool and provided them some stationary.
Since we had some time until lunch, we decided to stroll through the island for a bit of sightseeing. There were a lot of kovils and churches built for this religious community. We visited the renowned Queen’s tower, the growing stone, and the huge baobab tree. The little Dutch port and the pigeon post were also outstanding structures.
Afterwards, our Nallur teammates escorted us to a popular ice cream shop in Jaffna called “Rio ice cream”. We enjoyed the evening filling up on ice cream to our content. It was a day filled with joy to reminisce about.
On the final day of the project, we left the lodging early to visit the Jathusha’s home, who is the president of the Rotaract Club of Nallur Heritage, upon her invitation for breakfast. It was a traditional Jaffna meal which was delicious. After all the 21 members had arrived, we started the joint general meeting there itself. Each and every member stated their role within their respective club and we also briefed about RotaractMora projects and their impact on the wellbeing of the society.
A surprise party had been organized for our club President, Dhanuka, by the Nallur rotaractors. He cut the cake as we sang the birthday song and he heartily thanked everyone. They offered Dhanuka a gift and even presented us some souvenirs.
Our next destination was “St. John’s College”, Jaffna. On the way, we distributed shoes and books for some underprivileged families. At the school, we presented the students with several English language books for their library.
For lunch, our Nallur friends ushered us to a traditional restaurant which served “Odiyal Kool”, a spicy and sour seafood dish. Subsequently, we thought to visit some famous sites of historical and cultural importance.
The first stop was the architectural highlight, the Jaffna Public Library. Even though entry was restricted, we could admire how it stands as a symbol for post-war regeneration. Then we visited the Jaffna Fort which was built in the 17th century by the Portuguese. This star-shaped structure adds more appeal to the city. In Chunnakkam town, The Maruthanarmadam Ajanayar Kovil, which is more commonly known as Hanuman Kovil, was located. There, an enormous, 72 ft tall statue of God Hanuman was mounted, visible to the entire city along with colorful statues of Hindu gods and demi-gods.
Our next stop was the cultural and historical significance “Kadurugoda Ancient Vihara”, which is one of the few Buddhist temples existing in Jaffna. Then we paid a visit to the famed “Sivapoomi- Palace of Thiruvagasam”, its significance is to have 108 perfectly carved Shiva Lingams and corresponding hanging bells. And on the adjoining premises, it was the “Sivapoomi Jaffna Museum” exhibiting the statues of the 21 kings who ruled Jaffna in the past.
The wonderful journey came to an end since it was the time to head back to Colombo. We departed from our Nallur friends anticipating to meet them again for the Sinhala and Tamil New Year.