31st January, 2013 – Mulliyawalai –
The first ever Reconciliation Centre at Mullaitivu was declared open by Alistair Burt MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, United Kingdom, last month.
It is the realization of a four year dream of ‘Sri Lanka UNITES’ to increase both academic and employment opportunities for the youth in Mullaitivu – an area crippled as a result of the 30 year war.
The Center will be an educational hub providing opportunities to study recognized courses in Information Technology, English and Business Entrepreneurial skills. For the first time in Mullaitivu a center comprising of a well equipped library and a computer lab with internet facilities will also be available.
“Sri Lanka UNITES is a youth movement that is committed to change; we are committed to be part of the solution. We may not have all of the answers but we are trying to be part of the solution, and that is how the vision for this reconciliation centre came in to being” said Prashan De Visser, President of the movement.
The Movement has been active since 2009. Student leaders of different ethnicities and religions, from all 25 districts of the island have been brought together in annual conferences. These young leaders are working collectively to build a better future based on equality and meritocracy.
“How can we as fellow Sri Lankans, be cozy in our cities, have a very good education and ignore our very own brothers and sisters here in Mullaitivu?” De Visser added.
Speaking at the opening Alistair Burt said that “Reconciliation does not start top-down, it doesn't start with a stroke of a pen or someone writing a law; it starts in the heart and that's why it’s so important - because you can make it happen.
You will find lots of people who will find reasons to divide and say why division is the better way . . . but the important thing is that you are the future.”
He added that it is the youth with these opportunities and experiences who will build a prosperous future for the country.
Students who followed a three week Intensive English Programme (IEP) at the Reconciliation Centre were awarded with certificates. Three of the students spoke during the Opening Ceremony showcasing their English speaking ability.
The event concluded with a cultural performance by students of Vidyananda College, Mullaitivu.