He hails from Beliatta village down south of Sri Lanka and one that has seen at least one funeral during the time of the war that reached its end in 2009. He himself has lost two of his cousins to the bloody war that raged for nearly three decades. It was in this backdrop that Akila Mayuranga Hettiarachchi, got in touch with Sri Lanka Unites (SLU), seeking to piece together the fragmented Sri Lankan society to steer it towards sustainable peace
It was barely a year after the war ended and his impression about Future Leaders’ Conference (FLC) was that it was a conference to groom future leaders. Even when he attended the mentoring before FLC-2, he thought that reconciliation was a far-fetched idea. After all, he came from a village which mostly comprised of Sinhalese Buddhists and has never seen a person of different community leaving there.
His main motivation to attend FLC-3 was to get new friends. He did not have hatred towards the Tamil, but he did not want to be part of Teams named after regions like Jaffna Giants or Kegalle Kohawks. He had, in fact, come with nine other friends of his, who had to be part of these teams. “I managed to get into Galle Gladiators and my friends went to the teams named after Tamil inhabited regions. Initial two days everybody was sticking to their community groups. But by the last day my school friends virtually forgot me as they became good friends with students from other region,” said Akila.
Since then he has been associated with SLU and has even contributed to the Champions of Change project and has collaborated with local schools to undertake small community development projects. “Since that time I have come in touch with 600-700 students and have been able to convince them about the need of reconciliation in the society to bring communal harmony,” Akila added with a shy smile. He aspires to go to Japan and study motor engineering or become a pilot. “I want to become financially independent so that I can get into politics and work towards united Sri Lanka,” he elaborated.