10/31/2019, 16.35
SRI LANKA
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Easter Sunday survivors have strong faith even in the face of death

by Melani Manel Perera

On 21 April, 263 people were killed. Many wounded are still being treated. A woman who had a bullet go through her thigh tells her story, says her mother’s prayers saved her.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - "Our faith is strong, even in the face of death,” said some elderly women speaking to AsiaNews. The women live in Katuwapitiya, Negombo. The local church, St Sebastian, was one of the three places of worship attacked on Easter Sunday. Six months later, they opened up to talk about their lives.

“We are not overjoyed that our lives were saved,” they say, “because the bombs took away so many people. The physical pain is hard to bear; however, we feel that they have gone to our Lord. It is our fate as Christians. Whatever happens, our faith does not waver.”

On 21 April, attacks were carried out against three churches in different parts of the country and three luxury hotels in Colombo. The final death toll stands at 263 dead and many of the wounded are still being treated. The initial number of wounded was in excess of 600.

“Our minds are still on what happened to us, to our church,” said the women. Like them, other residents cannot forget. “Although six months have passed, our tears, our losses and our agony are still intense. One day the physical wounds will heal, not the psychological ones. It will take a long time before life returns to normal.”

D. Theresa Haami is a 68-year-old Sinhalese mother. She notes that "Everyone has been affected: children, old families, each left to their own fate. We believe the dead are martyrs.”

Her daughter Thushari Nalika miraculously survived after a bullet went into her thigh. In her view, this “was a miracle. Even the doctors couldn’t believe it. The bullet went from one side to the other without touching any vital organs.”

She believes that her life was saved by her mother's prayers. "Every day she woke up at midnight and recited the Rosary. She went to Mass whenever she could."

For her mother, "only prayers and a good relationship with the Lord and Mary are salvation for Catholics. I know this, and I always tell my grandchildren too.”

“Every day we think about what happened.” But so far, “We have not heard anything from the law. Yet, our simple faith is the same as before the tragedy. No one can change our strong faith in God."

In her opinion, the Easter massacre taught "the country and the world a spiritual and physical lesson. In spiritual terms, [it made us understand that] we must be ready at any time to abandon this earthly life and respond to God's call.”

In material terms, “the authorities must build a peaceful country, an environment that protects all its people so that we can live as a free nation.”

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