When the war started in 2006, it was a mix of feelings among everyone in Sri Lanka. I could clearly remember the first night of the war crouching under the water tank of our house and praying that the our house will not get bombed. The days and the events which followed, lead me to understand the grave situation the whole country was in. The most common words the country spoke were related to war and death. Peace was looking so glimpse that one could only imagine an end to the brutality of the war and the discrimination and sufferings that came with it. While the curfews kept getting longer and prices of goods went higher than a middle class family could handle, it brought most of the people in Jaffna to cooperative stores; stores which I heard for the first time that actually existed. There were many days when I used to think of my future and the future of my family. What will happen the next day? Will I be able to pursue what I want in life? Will there be peace in the country? Those were just few of the questions and thoughts that kept haunting my mind during the months I spent staying inside my house too scared to go out; fearing I might not return home.
When the war finally came to an end, it came at the loss of thousands of lives. There were hundreds parading along the streets at the end of the war while thousands grieving for their loved ones and anticipating the return of the ones they were separated from. Though the war had ended, the harassment and discrimination did not come to an end. There were several occasions in which the so called ‘minorities’ were treated differently. Many times I have had the question in my mind,’ Is this the Country I have to live in?’ I considered participating in Future Leaders’ Conference 2010 an eye opener and an event that broke many stereotypical thinking I had regarding people who were of different ethnicities. The interaction with people of other ethnicities was something I was deprived of during the war and the conference made me understand that there are several youths just like me who felt just the same about the country and that they too had undergone hardships due to the war. Each one of the youths I met had the potential to influence his or her community for the betterment and progress of the country.
The past two years have been a ride on a roller coaster, with ups and downs in many areas of life. Missing the privilege of studying medicine in Sri Lankan university by a few marks, I had to look at the study options other countries offered. Being able to enter the medical academy in Russia, I was able to keep my dreams of becoming an oncologist alive. Living in another country I am able to intermingle with Sri Lankans and foreigners alike. I am learning to look at a situation in different perspectives, learning about how they felt about the motherland and the experiences they had faced due to the war and the aftermath of the war. It is a slow but steady process of connecting with the individuals of different backgrounds who share the common passion for the country.
My goal in life is to become an oncologist and try to find acure for cancer. Though it might be farfetched dreams, I believe that every little bit helps, and I want to leave something good in the world for the future generations to enjoy; a life without cancer. As a Sri Lankan, I yearn for the day the people of the nation will put aside prejudices and past animosities and rebuild the trust and friendship between different ethnicities. I am committed in contributing to the process of building peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka; to make the world envy at the way the tiny nation broke all barriers and progressed by using the diversity amongst us.