Sri Lanka

Iā€™m Mano. I was a child when civil war broke out in my native Sri Lanka in the 1980s. I remember conversations of independence and freedom around the house right before the first shell hit a small shack outside our house. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are a rebel group who were fighting for an independent Tamil state in Sri Lanka against the Sri Lankan Armed Forces. Our family is of Tamil ethnicity like the most people who live in the North. We are a minority in Sri Lanka.

The war had waged on and off for two decades by the time I was 25. Despite it being a war between two armed groups, it was the civilians who suffered the most. My father had been forced into joining the Tigers and died not long after in crossfire. I had married my childhood friend Lathika and she was pregnant with our first child. My two teenage brothers helped me support our family and my wife but it was not easy when we could hardly access any food or clean water. We all prayed for the war to end so we could be safe from shelling and no longer affected by food shortages.