FMA INM in the Sri Lankan Refugee Services

Holy Father’s Message

The theme of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees (14th January) proposed by the Holy Father Benedict XVI intends to underline the commitment of the Church not only in favour of the individual migrant but also of the family which is a place and resource of the culture of life and a factor for the integration of values. He proposes the symbol for Refugee Family: The Family of Nazareth in exile. (Mathew 2: 13-15)

(The World Migration Day theme emphasized the family and migration.

The colourful and overfilled suitcase is a synonym of the stories of migrants, of their culture, their traditions.

We can see attached to the collective memory of the suitcase all the stickers of the places traveled. These stickers are a testimony of the movements, the “mileage” of each migrant, each one of them telling a story. These well-known travel stickers have been “animated” and transformed into the bodies of a family. The heads of the family members have been painted with the colours of the missionary rosary to symbolize people coming from different continents.

The figurines are holding hands, to suggest the idea of union and even more so of solidarity and understanding. Above the image we can see the key words of the World Day of Migrants message: Family, Communion, and Diversity.)

The FMA Migrant Project

Refugee CampThe Daughters of Mary Help of Christians gathered together at GC XXI in Rome during September – Nov 2002 solicited by the increase of immigration and ecclesial encouragement on the celebration of the 125th anniversary of the first missionary expedition from 1877 – 2002, considered the migratory phenomenon to be the focal point of the educational mission today. As a synthesis of this new historical sensitivity that came from the desire of the GC XXI, there arose the Migrant Project designating it as: a shared home for the diversity of people.

For FMA and for the Salesian Family the young people, children and immigrant women, the undocumented, the clandestine or illegal immigrants, are signs of the times – a true Kairos that challenges the Educating Community.

As FMA in the world of migration, our first call is to draw close and to approach.

Srilanka – Context


Tamil Nadu – Refugee Camp Details

Refugee Camp in Tamil Nadu according to a rough estimate, more than 60,000 refugees from Sri Lanka have been accommodated in 105 camps in Tamil Nadu. Of these, Mandapam camp near Rameswaram and Kottapattu camp in Tiruchi are considered big camps. More than 19,000 refugees, who arrived since January 2006, have also been given shelters in various camps. In Mandapam camp alone, just above 5,000 refugees are accommodated.

Problems Faced by Refugees

Srilankan Refugees are often seen as a threat and as terrorists. They are cheated by the local people and suffer due to the enquiries regarding their caste and economical background. They are Constantly watched by the Q Branch –checking their connections to the LTTE

FMA-INM in Refugee Services

  • Coaching Classes – English
  • Education Aid (School, College, Boarding/Hostels, Technical Schools)
  • Summer Camps (JRS)
  • Life Skill Training Camp
  • Staff Training Programme
  • Medical Aid
  • Full Time Service as Information Officer (JRS)
  • Service in the Camps (Making them feel at home, Counseling, Survey) by Novices, Juniors, Seniors
  • Spiritual Animation, Catechesis and Value Education, Liturgical Animation
  • Regular Visits

Future Thrust

  • Higher / Professional / Vocational Education
  • Reunion of Families
  • Job Placement
  • Visit to Srilanka to study the prospects of FMA Presence
  • Health Services
  • Youth Leadership Programmes
  • Networking with other agencies

The response to the migratory phenomenon requires a joint, group action, a networking strategy which uniting different forces, helps the young people to be aware of the seeds of good of hope and even of the elements of disintegration present in their lives and in the human community. It disposes them to welcome the new vision of a ‘United Family’ in the communion that Jesus has revealed to us. It is a family where ‘No one is a guest or a foreigner’, where cultural diversity is recognized and welcomed as a need for dialogue and an occasion for purification and reciprocal enrichment (cf Cir. M.Antonia Colombo 24th Sept 2003)