Dec 05 (NYT) KILINOCHCHI, Sri Lanka- One by one the villagers arrive, each carrying a little blue book that chronicles a history of loss and heartache.
On the back of each book is the patient's name. Inside, on the first page, a family tree. An "X" is scrawled next to each loved one who has died. A "?" next to the missing. Underneath the symbol is the cause, and more often than not, it is written in simple capital letters: "WAR."
If bearable, their trauma would have remained private, behind the walls of modest homes in this northern part of Sri Lanka shaded by coconut trees and often still bearing the scars of bullets and fire. But it's not. So they come for monthly public counseling, lining up to see Dr. V. Jegaruban.
Known as Dr. Jegan, he is a government psychiatrist who has made it his mission to help people piece their lives back together after the small island nation's devastating civil war ended in 2009, after 26 years and more than 100,000 civilian deaths.
"Everyone is focusing on building roads, building houses, building hospitals after war," Dr. Jegan told me this year, lamenting the lack of urgent attention to addressing "the collective trauma."
"Very few people focus on the lives, on helping bring back the happiness," he said. "It is not easy."