When one looks at the root of conflict in Sri Lanka, one finds a lot of misunderstanding, prejudice and lack of acceptance. Over the last thirty years many hearts have been broken and Sri Lanka Unites recognizes the importance of healing what has been shattered.
Sri Lanka Unites inspires young people to believe that they can pick up these broken pieces, to reconcile those in a state of indifference and hopelessness; to re-build a lost connection. To be the ones, where our elders have failed, to reach out and say we care.
That was four years ago. What started as an annual conference dedicated to reconciling youth across the lines of ethnicity at the grass-roots, across the country, has slowly grown into something much greater.
Sri Lanka Unites knows that one yearly conference is not enough to eradicate the mistrust and disconnection that exists on this Island. And, we recognize the limitation of just looking at the divisions on this Island through the lens of ethnicity. We’re enduring to erase the divisions between individuals; be it gender based or class.
Today, Sri Lanka Unites has started the S.H.O.W You Care campaign. It is an advocacy campaign that takes place in October and strives to make the transportation system and streets of this country safer for young women.
We have two fully-active Reconciliation Centers in key areas of the country. We have a center in the North and another in the South.Both provides basic post-secondary skills in English and IT. And, on November 14th, during CHOGM, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Affairs Minister William Haigue officially opened our center in the South, based in a rural farming area just an hour outside of Matara.
It was also this day that our students from our center in the North visited the center in the South. For our students in the North it was their first time in the South and meeting Sinhala youth. For our students in the South it was their first time meeting young Tamil youth from the War affected areas. It was extremely powerful to watch the youth engage. It was also an important reminder that there’s still much work to be done in the post-war context to bridge the gap between the North and South.
We started the month of November with the Foundation of Goodness. They had brought together the Sri Lankan Cricket Team and England’s Cricket legend Sri Ian Botham, for a walk across the Island. Sir Botham along with Cricketing Legends like Ganguly, Steve Waugh, Sunil Gavaskar and our very own Murali, Mahela and Sangakkara walked 160 miles in eight days to raise money for the Sri Lankan charity Foundation of Goodness. Starting in Killinochi and ending in Seenigama. The foundation supports community development projects in the North and South. Sri Lankan Unites school chapters, reconciliation center along with Sri Lanka Unites Volunteers joined them along the way.
CHOGM was an exciting time for Sri Lanka Unites. SLU was honored to have our Dream Team sit down with David Cameron – UK premier for a quick chat about the post-war context and the importance of reconciliation and our humble contribution towards establishing meaningful peace.
Furthermore we’ve also partnered with Search for Common Grounds to help them produce a Reality TV Series that will spread the importance of Reconciliation across televisions through-out the nation while bringing out grass-root issues in the communities. Due to this project, we’ve been travelling all over the country visiting schools and engaging youth to build a perspective on what they want to see as a positive change in the country.
And, what can you look forward to? We’ll be releasing our Magazine and starting our 2014 School Relations Tour. Watch out Sri Lanka. Big, Beautiful things are ahead!