– Anbucholai – Nursing home for elderly people.
Anbucholai elders meeting!
Even at the age of seventies we are like this today. Even if we don’t have our houses, will still have so much love and support.
I was standing in the nursing home called “Anbucholai” by everyone on the road from the junction at Kilinochchi towards Konavil.
Our nation is still reeling from the wounds of war inflicted on us over the past three decades. It is our elders who still bear the scars of the deadly war inflicted on us. Due to the miseries of continuous migration and their economy destroyed by the war, there is many elderly people who have lost their families, left their relationships, and have been left in our society as orphans and nobody.
Lost in search of their scattered relations, tired, left, poor, homeless, jobless. The life lived by our elderly people who were damaged by the agony of old age and due to incurable diseases was miserable.
“My daughter was shot by the Sri Lankan Army when we were in Jaffna.”
“The other daughter went as freedom fighter to save the country.”
”My husband also died in migration. All the relationships are going in a different direction.”
“I’m a lonely tree.”
She was the first mother to adopt in the Anbucholai in 2001, when the war was at its worst.
It was on April 19, 2001, when the clouds of war reached its peak in Vanni. Our national leader ordered to open a nursing home for the elderly people of our country who were left by the war and left orphaned. LTTE Fighters Maveerar Kudumpanalan Kaapakam established the Anbucholai – the elderly nursing home in Mulliyavalai area of Mullaitheevu.
A mother who was there at that time said,
”Then it was a really hard time of war. Like everyone else we were also in the hard time to save ourselves. But, we are relieved that not everyone has left us. We were happy that the children (freedom fighters) will take care of us.”
In the beginning, six parents who lost their children due to struggle of liberation and lost their relations due to war, were identified and the nursing home Anbucholai were raised with them.
In 2002, Anbucholai moved from Mullaitheevu to Kilinochchi Uruthirapuram area. Now Anbucholai is keeping its ties in a quiet complex in Kanakapuram, near Kilinochchi city.
That afternoon, I was talking about Anbucholai with the person in charge of the Anbucholai Elderly People’s Welfare Office.
They said that the activities of Anbucholai are being carried out in three phases.
I passed the reception hall. Separate department for men and women were set up in that peaceful environment. There was a garden in the middle with trees that they nurtured with water, as if they were hoping for life again. With the warmth of the old mother who took me by the hand saying, “Come child.”, I got attracted in the love of the people who were surrounding me.
“How are you, mothers?” I started talking to them. ”We are fine here, child.” We just came from the church.” They started talking.
There were twenty-three parents there, twelve mothers and eleven fathers. The mothers who were with me show me the separate departments set up for men and women.
“This is where we are staying.”
“Each room seats two people, there is a dining area, shared bathrooms, and a TV in the hall. We watch TV for entertainment”, the one of the mothers said.
We were all sitting and talking from the vestibule.
The vestibule was clean with flowerpots and had a TV set on one side. The rooms were placed on both sides of the vestibule.
A mother gave me a glass of milk and start talking to me: “Before coming here, I had no one, child.”
“My son also died a heroic death.”
”Other relations considered me as a burden. That’s why the children (the freedom fighters) brought me here.” A mother of a maveeran told me.
“Even my family has abandoned me. But our National Leader did not.”, said another mother.
”No one is sad here?”, I asked. “Everything we feel, but now we don’t care about it anymore.”, they said with a smile.
They also said that they have a separate hospital inside this place. A female doctor – a freedom fighter from the LTTE’s medical unit – taked care of them.
They told me that Dr. Deva, a member of the medical department, would come and visit whenever necessary, such as once a month.
They also said that the patients are being admitted and receiving treatment at Dr. Ponnambalam Memorial Hospital for further treatment if necessary.
There was joy in their every word. There was the satisfaction of being embraced here.
In the evening, those who can handle and take care of the flowers and plants, they did it. An old mother was happy to show me the chicken coop where they raise chickens.
They showed me what they did in their spare time, like sewing and knitting.
I met Arumugam sir and his wife, parents of Karumpuli Major Kalaichelvan. They were there as a couple. They said that a small house is being built for them then they can be together as a family.
“No matter what we do every day, we never forget to read the newspaper.”, he said. “We all wanted to know how you all are,” a father said. “In the evening we got together and went for a short walk.”
Apart from lodgings, a kitchen, a separate hospital, gardens, there was also a separate reception hall. They also had staff to help women and men when they needed.
Twice a week, the intelligence advisers from the “Mother’s House” also come to talk to them. Their remaining relatives and relations from the diaspora also came and visit them.
In “Anbucholai”, there were about fifty elderly people in Anbucholai’s family. Although they live in their own homes and with their relatives, they still use Anbucholai as their address. Anbucholai also takes care of them when they need extra care with any medical help or personal assistance.
Apart from these two internal and external users in Anbucholai, thirdly, Anbucholai also takes care of the elderly who are not yet in Anbucholai but need help, medical facilities or care for themselves for a while until they are medically cured.
Old people identified by the LTTE’s political department and the Maveerar Family Welfare are brought to Anbucholai from all districts of Tamileelam.
04.06.2004 there was an arrangement of a newly constructed shelter at their place. They were all engrossed in the event of the day. Suddenly, they got a pleasant shock that none of them expected. Tamileelam’s national leader alighted from a vehicle in their place.
“It was like a dream to us.”
“We were blessed. He also gave us a gift with his own hand.”
“He wanted to hold his hand and thanks him, but he asked us not to do it. Instead, he said, it should be him, who should say thank you to all of us mothers.
“It brings us all to tears.”
“We all have seen him now, we don’t care if we die now.” They all had tears of joy in their eyes when they told me about that day.
Anbucholai is with them today as if there were no one else for them. Parents of Tamileelam are no longer abandoned in their old age.
When I left the Anbucholai and the elderly people there, the same words spoken by a mother of a maveeran kept ringing in me again and again. “Our children protected the nation. The nation now protects us.”