Ven. Galnawe Sanarathana Thero is a Buddhist Monk and an undergraduate at the University of Kelaniya in the North West.
“I live in a strong Sinhala Buddhist area; I used to support the Sinhala nationalist party and wanted to join the army to protect the ‘motherland’. I believed that Sri Lanka was a Sinhala Buddhist country and that Tamils, Muslims and Christians wanted to steal our land. I hated all minorities and had so many stereotypes. The Young Visionaries have opened my eyes to think that Tamil people are humans too – kind, respectful, loving people. Through the Young Visionaries I am discovering my own potential, my weaknesses and my prejudices.
My passion is politics. I want to gather more young Buddhist Monks who are ready to challenge their beliefs, break old barriers and connect with others. If Sinhala Buddhists win the war and are the majority we will have a huge responsibility to bring justice and share this power with everyone. I believe I can contribute to a generation that will make this happen.”
Jovita Arunalatham is a Tamil woman at University in Colomba, Sri Lanka’s capital.
“Joining ‘Young Visionaries’ has helped me answer many questions I have about the role I can play in my community. I’m ashamed to say I only grew genuinely concerned about social injustice when as a Tamil student I joined a predominately Sinhalese University, I became aware of the second citizen status of the Tamils.
The Youth in our country has the ability to transform the attitudes of those who will one day have power. The Young Visionaries hope to answer this call. We are building a network of like-minded young people, who are growing in strength and number to create change throughout Sri Lanka.
My favourite quote that encapsulates the spirit of the Visionaries is from anthropologist Margaret Mead:
The Young Visionaries want to make a generation that can live together better and won’t repeat the mistakes of its parents.”