VILAASAMA which in olden day Sinhala means a ‘Missive’, and is translated into Tamil as VILAASAM, is the Report of the Project on Safeguarding Civil Rights of Plantation Sector Workers and highlights moments from the project and interviews with many of the stakeholders and beneficiaries involved.
Project on Safeguarding Civil Rights of Plantation Sector Workers, 2013
The estate sector workers of Badulla district are still some of the poorest, most marginalised people in Sri Lanka. Fostered by a system that does not want to let go its hold on cheap labour, conditions in the estate sector of the Uva Province have remained almost unchanged by recent post war development drives. Exemplifying the administrative neglect of these communities is the fact that many plantation sector workers have never had a permanent contact address to their name.
The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) along with a local partner Uva Shakthi Foundation, has worked on a pilot project in Passara ,Badulla(Uva Province) aimed at bringing a modicum of dignity into the lives of this marginalized community whose human rights have been routinely denied. In the last six months this project has arranged to provide permanent addresses, for the first time ever in the plantation sector, for 3000 families of estate workers. The project also organized setting up secure mail collection boxes in 20 localities, selecting road names and providing signage for 40 of the estate by-roads in the area, in an endeavor to safeguard the delivery of correspondence.
Mobile clinics were also hosted to speed up the application process for more than 300 National Identity Cards, which may otherwise reach owners late or never. The latter is particularly relevant to a large number of students who are due to sit for exams shortly.
The right to safely receive one’s correspondence, taken for granted in the rest of the country but fraught with difficulty in this area, can make the difference between receiving a rare university admission, a job in Colombo, a desperately needed remittance from a relative abroad…or not. In the lives of estate worker communities such rare opportunities may come only once or twice in a lifetime and be the difference between hope and a life of regrets.
Sponsored by the Australian High Commission SL