Cody McKay (BA'13) Learns of Lasting Impacts of War by Visiting India and Sri Lanka
Published: Wednesday, Apr 11, 2012
St. Thomas University student Cody McKay recently had the opportunity to put his international relations education into practice. The third-year student spent two weeks working with the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), in India and Sri Lanka.
McKay, from Fredericton, NB, began his work with PWRDF, an agency focused on sustainable development, relief, refugees and global justice education, last year when he was elected to be one of two east coast representatives for their youth council. McKay was then offered to be one of a nine-member delegation and to participate in a partnership visit in India and Sri Lanka.
“I realized this opportunity would be one of the best I would have while still being in university,” McKay said.
“It’s one thing to tell a future employer you have been a member of a youth council and been to a few meetings, but it’s a whole other thing to say you have experience working with internationally-recognized NGO in the field.”
The delegation began its visit in Chennai, India, where they met in the head office of their partner, Organization for Eelam Refugee Rehabilitation (OfEER). OfEER has been working with the over 70,000 Tamil refugees who fled to India as a result of civil war in Sri Lanka. Although the civil war is over, the refuges face numerous complications. The delegation learned about these issues and what PWRDF can do for OfEER in Canada in terms of advocacy.
The second week was spent in north eastern Sri Lanka, where McKay’s delegation was able to see what issues complicated the return of the refuges. Throughout the second week, the delegation visited returnees and tried to understand the resulting difficulties that they now endure. The delegation also visited one of four Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps, where many remain as a result of the war.
“Back home, you don’t hear a whole lot about the Sri Lankan civil war anymore. Officially, the war is done, and that’s the perspective on it. There are more current conflicts to talk about. Being there, and seeing what I saw, just shows how much lasting damage a war can have on a country and its people.”
McKay said he was glad to have understanding of international relations before making the trip.
“It was really interesting applying what I learned in the classroom to the work and things I was seeing there. There is always a part of you that wonders if you’ll ever use the stuff you learn in class, but this just proved to me how valuable that knowledge is.”
PWRDF is an Anglican agency focused on sustainable development, relief, refugees and global justice education. The NGO believes that the most effective way to reach out to areas in need is to partner with people directly affected, creating a unique and balanced relationship between NGO and recipient.