Promising students plucked from school and forced into conscription by LTTE forces are being reintegrated into society as part of a rehabilitation programme.
Sinduja was a bright student with an interest in medicine. She had taken her Grade Certificate of Education Advanced Level examination (GCE-A-level) and awaited acceptance to the Jaffna University, which would pave the way for her to become a doctor.
But her dreams were shattered when she was kidnapped by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2007.
"I was abducted and attached to the medical unit of the LTTE," said Sinduja, 24. "I did my high school studies in the Science Stream in the hope of becoming a doctor. Maybe that was the reason for them to attach me to the medical unit."
Doctors there were sympathetic to her plight, she said, and she was able to retake the GCE and even improve on her earlier score. But being forced to serve the Tigers meant she couldn't attend university.
Now, Sinduja is one of the 12,000 former LTTE cadres who have been rehabilitated since the long-running insurgency ended in 2009. The government is seeking to reintroduce the ex-Tigers into society and help them find income-generating opportunities.
"After the rehabilitation programme, I was given a chance to join the medical faculty of the Jaffna University," Sinduja said. "Now, I'm on my way to realise my dream."
A military intelligence screening process categorised cadres into groups depending on the role they played in the terrorist outfit, and then referred them to various rehabilitation centres.
According to Commissioner General of Rehabilitation Major General Chandana Rajaguru, fewer than 1,000 cadres still remain in rehabilitation centres. They too will be reintegrated by 2013.
Speaking to Khabar South Asia, Rajaguru said the response from the private and banking sectors for help to create career opportunities was encouraging.
"We've conducted various vocational training programmes covering such areas as masonry, beauty culture, welding and vehicle repairs," he said.
Holcim Lanka Ltd., a leading cement manufacturer, for instance, sponsored training of 105 cadres in masonry, he said. Efforts are now underway to find them foreign employment. In addition, some rehabilitated cadres have been employed at garment factories.
Rajaguru understands how important secure employment and a decent salary are to former LTTE soldiers.
"We shouldn't leave any room for them to resort to violence again. That is one major way for reconciliation," he said.
Central Bank assistant governor W.M. Karunaratne told Khabar he co-ordinated and facilitated a programme to educate rehabilitated cadres about the banking system and to arrange loans for would-be entrepreneurs to start small businesses.
"Some were interested in getting loans for agricultural activities, whereas others want such assistance for businesses such as vehicle repairing, running grocery shops, etc," Karunaratne said.
So far, the government has arranged loans of up to Rs. 250, 000 ($1,989) for each cadre seeking self-employment projects. Overall, it has provided Rs. 300 million ($2.34 million) for the whole programme.
The programme is so vital for healing the wounds inflicted by the conflict that even the opposition parties are supporting it wholeheartedly. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which took a pro-LTTE stand during the war, has hailed the effort, with party leader leader R. Sampanthan describing it as "excellent".
Rajapradeepan, 27, is another former cadre who is again pursuing career goals once disrupted by the war.
In 2006, he was studying at the teacher training school in Batticaloa, 297 km (185 miles) east of Colombo. But he couldn't continue as he was forcibly conscripted to the LTTE.
"I was taken in for questioning at one of their checkpoints close to Jaffna when I was returning to Batticaloa from home," Rajapradeepan said. He was given training and attached to the police service of the de-facto state run by LTTE. He surrendered after the war ended.
"I was released eight months ago after spending a year at a rehabilitation camp," he said. "Then, arrangements were made for me to resume my studies to be a school teacher."