Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sri Lanka Unites Listening to the Stories of Youth Across the Nation, Five Years After the War.

By-Michelle Shruthi Waduge

Our history has been woven together with a thousand vibrant stories. Each color so bright and like each story so unique. In this magnificent tapestry are stories of our people. Each stitch is a story eager to be shared. These stories are not all rosy tales and void of pain. The anguish and hurt experienced by some is like dust settling on the tapestry. The edges become frayed. A stitch loosens, one here another there. Before we shake it out and dust it away, before we fix the edges and tighten the stitches, we have to listen to these stories, even though these stories fray the edges of our history or blacken it with its dust. Acknowledging the pain and hurt that defined their journey is crucial to ensure a nations journey forward. The 'victims' of war are not an entity, they are not a term but they are individuals with their own story to tell. Their voices must be heard. Hope and reconciliation comes in many ways it can also come through the telling of these stories and acknowledging them. Our history as a nation must not only be of battles, lieutenants and political leaders. The tapestry of history must be woven by the stories of these people. It is not the political leaders of Pompeii that lasts with us but the tragedy of the people. It's not Hannibal's military capabilities that speak to our hearts but the lives and resilience of a people that re-built their nation from dust to glory in ten short years.

From the soldier in Matara, one day at the line of fire and the next day tilling the fields, to the girl in the North one day mocked and scoffed by men while she bathes by a river at an IDP Camp to the next day acing her Advanced Level Exams; each is a story waiting to be told. They may not make monumental changes in Sri Lanka's history, they may never turn heads or leave someone speechless but they live lives worth being led. They have stories worth being shared. They are what makes Sri Lanka which we see today. The war took away hundreds of lives. It sucked the joy and strength out of hundreds more. But it also left behind a people that rose above their circumstances. It left behind a small but powerful nation, powerful because it's people, the very ones that were hurt and destroyed, still dare to hope. I am not guilty that I survived while hundreds died for the sake of our country and hundreds more for no fault of their own. But I now have a responsibility to live my life as a testament to those who are no longer here and for those who are struggling. While some fight for equal rights and others for humanitarian causes, we can tell the stories of these people. We can listen to the stories of these people because their stories matter. They are what this country is. Many of you may struggle to find pride in being a Sri Lankan. Our hundreds years of history may seem outdated. Sri Lanka to you may only be the product of past failures. We may not have sent men to the moon or built great cities. But we are a resilient nation. Years from now our own people can look back and take pride in the fact that despite 400 years of colonization, despite bloody and gruesome ethnic riots, despite a devastating Tsunami and despite a 30 year civil war we have overcome. Twenty one million people inside twenty five thousand square miles have some of the warmest smiles and the strongest perseverance. That's why these stories matter because Sri Lanka's greatest asset is it's people and their stories will one day make future Sri Lankans proud to call this little island nation their home.

The Sri Lanka Unites blog will feature such stories from youth from across the nation. Their joy, hope, pain, suffering, ambition and frustrations none left out. Five years of a brutal civil war a new generation tries to make sense of the conflict, bring worth to their existence and transform their nation. This is their story….

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