Former UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, former SCOPP Sri Lanka Secretary General and Sri Lanka Unites (SLU) Chairman ,Board of Trustees, Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala said it is important not to rely entirely on the government in matters dealing with reconciliation, rehabilitation and development.
"The role that a government is able to play is limited even in a democratic state. We need to decide what can be done at the grassroots level. Personal bonds matter and are the livewire of Sri Lanka Unites' programmes. They make the participants realize that they are all equal citizens of one country. The future generation has to contribute immensely to develop a united Sri Lanka free of prejudice among ethnic and religious groups and set up a bright and prosperous future based on national unity and territorial integrity," Dhanapala noted at the press conference held to unveil details of SLU's Future Leaders Conference.
Instilling the vision of a hopeful future in the youth of Sri Lanka is one of the main goals of this year's event. The conference will be marking its fourth chapter this year. It will be held in Jaffna College, Vaddukoddai, from August 28 to September 1. This is the first time that a national leadership conference will be held in the Jaffna region after the elimination of terrorism.
Around 500 youth leaders between 15 to 18 years and representing 75 schools across the island will take part in the conference. They will be mentored by 100 local and international university student volunteers and 75 teachers.
"SLU has been able to establish links with the loop in the Sri Lanka diaspora. 'We have seen the diaspora as extremists in the past but the youth from Sri Lankan communities abroad have learnt the benefits of living in a multi-cultural democratic society and are pledged to come and assist their mother country in achieving what has been achieved in other democracies.
'We are particularly interested in taking this message to Jaffna," Dhanapala said. The participants and mentors of the conference will be awarded full scholarships to attend the four-day residential conference.
"They will be exposed to leadership principles and will learn to sharpen their capabilities to shoulder the future challenges. We wanted them to experience the rich heritage and traditions that Jaffna as well as bond with their compatriots from the North," said SLU President Prashan De Visser.