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Young Visionaries celebrate new beginnings

  • Published

    6 May 2010
  • Written by

    Peace Direct
This was the first time in my life I have seen all three communities celebrate and share an event together- Saheer, Kattankudy

This huge New Year festival happened just last week in the remote village of Keledivuluwela and for the first time 70 young people from Tamil and Muslim backgrounds travelled to share the festivities with the Sinhalese locals from the nearby villages.

Young people in Sri Lanka have grown up in a bloody civil war and their communities have been divided by a lifetime of violence. Although the government announced a military victory in May 2009,  divisions of ethnicity, religion and language remain and it is vital these are addressed so they do not sow the seeds for militancy in the generation to come.


Young Visionaries mean creating good people for society, developing good youths and explaining how we can solve conflicts by finding better, positive approaches.
- Snanthini, Thirukovil

The Young Visionary (YV) project is a national youth network working to promote peace and reject violence. At the end of 2009 forty young people from Tamil, Sinhalese Buddhist and Muslim backgrounds had been trained as Young Visionaries – and in the first few months of this year they have been joined by a further 195 young people. Throughout February and March the Young Visionaries attended workshops across the country to explore the root causes of the conflict that has threatened their communities for so long, and develop projects to address those conflicts.

I did not know myself before this workshop; I had no hope. But now I understand that together we can help our community and our society. - Asith Kekirawa, Anuradhapura

The New Year festival was organised by the YV group in Anuradhapura and was a celebration of the diversity in Sri Lanka. It was a beautiful sunny day and religious leaders from each of the three communities came to bless the festivities, whilst the young people and the villagers shared many traditional games and music. After 25 years of brutal civil war that has left an estimated 70,000 people dead, this simple festival is a huge achievement and just shows the potential of the Young Visionaries to promote social change and build a future not divided by the past.

I talked to the people from the village, and they listened to me, and shared their feelings and experiences, without ever considering my ethnicity or religion. - Rodney, Batticaloa

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