It was around the end of the generic work day when I made my way down Kynsey Rd and began to head home. With the Sri Lanka Unites Office behind me and my bus ride to Rajagiriya before me, I was in high spirits. It had been a productive day at the Sri Lanka Unites office.
When I got in that morning, I found Prashan enthusiastic and sitting with the rest of the team at a large table covered in laptops. I had grown accustomed to seeing Prashan on large stages in front of hundreds of people. To see him there in the office - “behind the scenes” - was something different.
We spent the day going over the logistics for the FLC conference with Prashan. Every last detail needed to be ironed out. Later on a truck full of donated KIK Cola for the conference showed up. The team descended from the office and began to help unpack the truck and store the hundreds of KIK Cola in the office. The team had just finished unpacking the truck, when I began to make my way home.
At my bus stop, I was in the midst of the Colombo rush hour. I smiled to myself as I watched buses packed to the brim drive by. My mother constantly shared that while growing up in Colombo she had detested the thought of taking a local bus during the rush hour. She explained how rush hour gave men with careless hands an opportunity to make young woman feel extremely uncomfortable. And, she disapproved of my desire to take the local bus during my time here.
Nevertheless, soon enough, I was one among the many squished into a local bus. On one hand, I couldn’t help but continue to smile. It was a novel experience that made me feel like I was re-living my mother’s days in Colombo. On the other hand, as I stood squished near two men, I realized how vulnerable I was and how vulnerable my mother may have once felt.
My mind quickly wandered back to the Sri Lanka Unites office and the important work they’ve done to address harassment of women. The ‘Show You Care’ campaign had Sri Lanka Unites youth activists advocating in local buses against such harassment. As I rode the bus that day, I was thankful for their efforts.
It’s these things that attract me to the Sri Lanka Unites team and their initiatives. Though I was not born in Sri Lanka, nor was I raised here. The little time I do spend here - inhabiting Colombo -I contemplate of a time when my parents called this home. And, when I think that Sri Lanka Unites addresses issues my parents once faced, it gives me peace. It invigorates me to put my time to the cause during my short visits here.
This is because they address injustices that citizens in Sri Lanka face regardless of creed, religion or financial status. They transcend these divisive differences to advocate for universally applicable issues. And, I believe this is one among the many reasons why the FLC conference is so important for this Island and the generation of tomorrow.