Am I enjoying myself?

Posted Thursday November 06, 2014 by Hazel Durbridge

I get emails asking me if I am enjoying myself. ‘Enjoying myself’ is sort of an interesting statement. I am not sure I totally enjoy being thrust in to a sometimes difficult and challenging environment and after a week in a guest room and not going out in the evenings because of a limited social group, not knowing the area, issues of personal safety, cost etc it can feel lonely even for an introvert. I have never spent long periods in hotel rooms through work so miss my own space and the freedom to be ‘outside’. It’s not an easy ‘jolly’ in that way, but there are lovely moments that you may not experience purely as a tourist. I am eating exceptional food. While other volunteers view my landlady as ‘past it’ to be running a guest house, maybe as I am older I feel a little more sympathy for someone 60+ who still has an entrepreneurial spirit. Her husband is obviously very frail and sick. She is Buddhist and like many Sri Lankans well into ayervedic medicine. This has an impact on food. So I sit at the end of this huge table in solitary grandeur with a little daily-changing, rotating display of curries and various rice/noodle combos in front of me. These are cooked by a young Tamil ’employee’. They are quite exquisite. I have had a couple of restaurant meals, but these just have a delicacy and piquancy that is quite unique. At the end of the meal my plate has a little line of bits of stick and various sizes of green leaf. The landlady, Nangane, listens to Buddhist sermons around mealtimes, but slap, slap, slap as her flip flops come up behind me and I get a lecture on what is in these little dishes and how they are good for me. So, because her husband is sick I too am getting exotic, obscure vegetable dishes that are good for alzheimers, the liver, brain functioning, eyesight, arthritis, blood – it’s interesting. I don’t think I am likely to experience that again.

I have had a very nice email from John, the guy who wrote the original planning document so he will, without doubt, be interested in providing distance mentoring. This is a good thing. I also met the VSO young couple who got married the week-end before I came out and they raved to me about Batticaloa and my house – they said it is the most beautiful, unspoilt place on the island with great soul and that my 3 bedroom house is adjacent to a beautiful lagoon and 10 minutes from an idyllic beach. This may be the closest to a sort of environmental paradise I will ever live.


Batticaloa District occupies the central part of the Eastern Province. It covers a land area of approximately 2633.1 square Km. The district accounts for 3.8% of the country’s total land area. The physical features are flat land not exceeding 7.62 meters in height above the sea level. It consists of undulating plains and alluvial flats watered by rivers from the mountain zone of Uva and central provinces. The east coast of the district is sandy soil and the west is clay soil. The land bordering the lagoon is alluvial soil. Batticaloa District is divided into 14 divisional secretariat divisions which are comprised of 345 Grama Niladhari divisions and 965 villages. Within Batticaloa District there are a number of natural resources that contribute to its socio economic development. Batticaloa lagoon is a significant natural resource which traverses through 73.5 Km from Verugal (North) to Batticaloa town and also extends further 35.2 Km from Batticaloa town to Thuraineelavanai (South).  

Current population: Batticaloa district has a population of 598,265 (estimated). The density of population is 227 people per square Km. The highest density of population exists at Kattankudy DS division and the lowest density of population is at Koralaipattu North DS division.

The distribution of population by DS division is given in Table 1.1


Table p.1 : Population of Batticaloa District

S.   N. D.S Division No. of Families Total     Population
1 Manmunai North 24,794 94,609
2 Kattankudy 13,339 48,914
3 Manmunai Pattu 9,677 33,638
4 Manmunai South & Eruvil Pattu 17,812 63,108
5 Porathivu Pattu 12,945 47,180
6 Manmunai South West 7,331 26,225
7 Manmunai West 8,375 29,298
8 Eravur Town 10,129 38,343
9 Eravur Pattu 20,319 76,442
10 Koralai Pattu South 8,054 31,763
11 Koralai Pattu 7,204 23,986
12 Koralai Pattu West 7,413 26,531
13 Koralai Pattu Central 8,311 33,102
14 Koralai Pattu North 7,051 25,126
Total 162,754 598,265


Source: Statistical Hand Book-2010/11, District Planning Secretariat

The population distribution by gender is male 286,324 and female 300,479.

As shown in Table 1.2 this District has all ethnic groups, but with a significant concentration of three major ethnic groups namely, Tamil, Moors and Sinhalese, as 72%, 27% and 1% respectively.


Table p.2 : Distribution of Population by Ethnic group


Ethnicity Population %
Tamil    429,949      71.87
Muslims            160,574 26.84
Burgers 3,947 0.66
Sinhalese          3,458 0.58
Others                337 0.05
Total    598,265 100

           Source: Statistical Hand Book-2010/11, District Planning Secretariat


Age group Population Percentage(%)
00 – 04 7731 08
05 – 14 12973 14
15 – 29 30828 33
30 – 49 21295 22
50 – 59 12960 14
60 – Above 8822 09
Total 94609 100


Table p.3: Age Structure of Batticaloa MC Area in 2010

Source: Statistical Hand Book, District Secretariat, Batticaloa – 2010

Socio-Economy of Batticaloa District

Batticaloa District is one of the poorest in the country. The people have been affected by natural disasters such as the cyclone (1978), Tsunami (2004), regular severe flooding as well as man-made disasters in the form of conflict over 3 decades. The combined impact is reflected in the present socio economic conditions, especially the state of the physical, economic and social infrastructure and the emergence of vulnerable social groups.

The economy of the district depends mainly on agriculture and fishing. The district has about 40,154 agricultural families and 22,217 fishing families.

Batticaloa District Development Plan DRAFT 2013

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