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Ilaverni's Story
Sri Lanka
May 2002
Age: Nine years

It would be easy to be full of hatred for your 'enemy' if your mother was killed by soldiers, but Ilaverni wants peace for her country, Sri Lanka.

"I wish there will be peace all over the country. I do not want anyone to die," says nine-year old Ilaverni, who wants to be a teacher when she grows up.

Making friends with Singhalese children is one way Ilaverni believes she can help bring peace. But she has never even seen a Singhalese child. Most children where she lives have never talked with a Singhalese person, other than in army uniform.

They've also known nothing but war their whole lives.

"The biggest loss has been my mother. I feel very sad about that," Ilaverni says.

Her mother was killed by a shell during an onslaught against the Tamil Tigers by the Sri Lankan armed forces in 1999.

After her mother's death, Ilaverni and her brother Pajithan lived in a camp for internally displaced people in the 'uncleared area', a zone controlled by the Tamil Tigers.

Three years later, they have now returned to their old village where they live with relatives and attend the local school. It's like a different world back in her village, compared with the uncleared area. Soldiers don't roam around, and people have access to televisions, computers and telephones - items that weren't available where they were living.

Ilaverni is pleased to be back at school, but has put her plans to make some Singhalese friends on hold, until she is able to meet some.