The New Sri Lanka: Youth Leading Positive Changes

 

Sri Lankans must recognize that conflict-transformation is not a task exclusive to the government or wholly dependent on State initiatives. Waiting passively for national actors to foster reconciliation singlehandedly is naïve. Civil society has a valuable and undeniable role in complementing, strengthening and accelerating the Government’s efforts. It is then our responsibility as citizens of this country to abandon our all too familiar ‘wait and see’ approach in favour of a proactive stance in promoting hope and reconciliation.

The youth present a viable solution for the country’s post-war future. In fact, as we have seen through our work, youth not only demonstrate strong potential as future leaders, but as leaders and change-makers of today. It is the youth who will engage in reshaping the next decades, giving leadership to the positive changes that must take place if Sri Lanka is to achieve a sustainable peace. Unfortunately, while being worst affected by the conflict, the youth have often been the ‘missing link’ during the numerous peace-building efforts attempted over the years. Sri Lanka Unites seeks to change that.

We aim to restore this ‘youth voice’ by empowering young people to champion the cause of reconciliation in their schools, homes and communities, adopting a focused effort to nation-building. The movement comprises of an ever-growing countrywide network of dynamic students, intent on fostering the spirit of reconciliation among fellow youth from every race, religion and region. Most young people in our Sri Lanka Unites movement know people who have endured great difficulties on account of the civil war, often having experienced great trials themselves, but they have resolved to take collective responsibility to overcome the violence of the past thirty years.

Sri Lanka Unites Australia

Sri Lanka Unites Australia was selected as the official charity and partner of Cricket Victoria for the Sri Lanka vs Australia ODI match played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground ( MCG) on the 2nd of March. SLUA was also give the opportunity to select 64 kids representing all ethnic groups of the Sri Lankan community to play soft ball cricket during the innings break.

Prashan was able to meet with these students before they went of the field and encourage them to be part of expanding unity and reconciliation. Prashan was also interviewed by Cricket Australia TV network on how SLU is using cricket for reconciliation among student from different ethnic groups.

The match which ended with a famous Sri Lankan win was followed by the annual SLUA fundraiser. This year appropriately named as the "Third Innings". This event was attended by over 600 Sri Lankan cricket fans. They contributed for FLC 4 at the entrance and dance the night away . Another highlight of this night was a presence of 4 members of the national cricket team of Sri Lanka - Malinga , Tharanga , Kulasekara and Samaranayake.

Prashan met with the key leadership of the SLUA team and shared about the long term vision of SLU and also the Diaspora chapter role in the movement. He also thanked SLUA who were pioneers in the SLU diaspora chapters. SLUA is looking to send a delegation for this year's conference and will confirm numbers later this month.

A Sri Lanka Unites delegation met with representatives from the RMIT university - reconciliation studies department. The intention was to further strengthening a relationship with the institution. 

Sri Lanka Unites met with leaders of the SL Muslim and Sinhala community and shared about the movement. We also met with players from AFL who had visited SL and witnessed the work of SLU.

Special thanks to the leadership of Ishika Kawiratne and the amazing team at SLUA.

Sri Lanka Unites UK

Sri Lanka Unites UK was selected to be part of an international truce for peace. We were one of eight student movements selected from across the world to speak at the international press conference. This press conference and event was co-ordinted by a UK based non-profit named - Peace One Day. World renowned actor Jude Law opened the event and introduced the eight international speaker including Sri Lanka Unites President - Prashan De Visser.

SLU UK had organized a series of meeting to share the vision , network and initiatives of Sri Lanka Unites. These meetings and events were attended by individuals and organization of the Sri Lankan Diaspora in UK. 

Sri Lanka Unites was also invited to share at a combined event of the University of Cambridge Sri Lankan students union and the Tamil student union ( Split since 2009). The work and vision of SLU was shared and many showed interest to volunteer at the upcoming Future Leaders Conference in Jaffna.

Prashan also met with the key leadership of SLU UK and talked about the role of Diaspora chapters , encouraged them for the amazing network they had created and shared the long term vision of the movement.

Sri Lanka Unites UK is led by a core team and has up to 30 active members representing all ethnic groups of Sri Lanka. We are extremely grateful for their perseverance , commitment and support. Special thanks to Chamara Udugampola, Haren Sasinathan and Thiaga Edirisingha for their leadership for this chapter.