Rising out of a thick forest about 17 km from the nearest main road, the Madhu Church is a symbol of spiritual harmony and tranquility. When the wind blows you hear the leaves rustle. Other times a solemn silence hangs in the air. Old-timers say that once, almost an entire generation ago, the grass grew six feet high in the church compound, and elephants wandered through it.
It has been four years since the guns fell silent in Sri Lanka’s northern Vanni region, after almost three decades of ethnic violence. Unfortunately peace does not mean the end of hardship for the most vulnerable people here: the women.
Sita Tamang’s husband went missing sometime in 2004, two years before Nepal’s civil war came to an end. A native of Dharan, a town about 600 kilometres southeast of Kathmandu, Tamang waited seven years after his disappearance before she tried to claim compensation offered by the government after a 2006 peace deal ended this country’s bloodshed.