Written By NAFSO on Wednesday, March 18, 2009 | 6:38:00 PM
The Displaced Youth of Arippu, Mannar and a team of 25 youth from Southern part of the country, united under the banner of Youth Movement for Environmnet & Social Change[Y-MESOC] had a 3 day experience exchange program with the objective of Youth to Youth Dialogue on Sustainable Peace and ethnic Harmony in the country.
There were more than 120 youth gathered at Nanattan Govt School where the Southern Team received a grand welcome by the Arippu youth and the Parish Priest, Rev.Fr.Jeyabalan together with the Principal of Arippu government college.
The southern youth did not expect such a welcome and they were impressed with the work from the first minute they reached there at Nanattan.
There was heavy rain when we reached the place and the youth brought umbrellas and take us very safely to the school, which southern crowd did not see such a welcome in their own villages.
The first day was started with home stay and then to the common gathering at Kovankulam Catholic Church at night.
Roy Rodrigo, Animator from Janawaboda Kendraya served as our resource person to explain why and how the present crisis evolved in the past. He explained the path and clarified the misunderstanding in the history how the Pre Colonial, Colonial and post independence periods contributed to the deepen the present crisis.
Aslo, he explained certain myths and Hippocratic measures to divide the nation purposely.
The youth from both the sides were some what satisfied and wanted to have further clarifications though the time did not permit to that.
The second day, the team had very unique experience to have a shramadana at Mannar Hospital.
The team of 150 youth from Mannar and South attended the Shramadana.
That was the greatest experience for the youth group to expose the brutality of war and the danger people face due to war mongering and supporting to the war.
Hundreds of children, jeveniles, youth and elderly people , men and women were at the hospital with the serious wounds, no limbs, no legs, some had serious wounds in many places of the body.
Youth were seriously felt that the message they receive from media is not truth and the sufferings of the people do not come through the same media in the south.
Some of the youth most stuck with the youth, A.Sajeewan, 16 year old boy from Hindu College Kilinochchi, who lost both the hands and serious damages in the body. His mother is also in the same hospital and father is also another place. When he lost his two younger sisters from the same shell fallen on their heads on the same day.
The youth felt the brutality of the war and they decided not to support what ever the way for the war.
This experience it self was really a good experience for the youth as they shared at the evaluation of the work.
In the evening, we had very long discussion over the experience at hospital.
The Mannar youth had shared their feelings about the way Southern team worked at hospital and shared, they never thought the sinhalese are having such a kind persons as they always see the army soilders and their way of the treatments to the people.
They wanted to continue the brotherhood and sisterhood they built for the future with the close collaboration between the groups.
At night, the team sat together for planning for the future collaborations.
It was great that Susantha, a youth from Arrippu challenged the southern group.
"You all have seen our situation. We are displaced here for 18 months. The military asked us to leave our place within 2 hours due to unknown reasons to us. They said it is only for 3 days time. Now we are here at Nananttan for 18 months. The government says the war is for democratize the north. But, you can see the democracy we gained when you met the victims at hospital. No body talk about them. Are you ready to take the issues with you and see any possible action to finish this situation unless; there is no point of having dialogues of future collaborations and actions?
This was seriously felt by the southern group and 2 members from the group responded positively with some doubts of course.
They sahred the situation at south. The war mongering majority and the support from media to the war.
No voice at all against war and the youth with limited knowledge and support they are isolated and helpless. Hence need more and more collaboration and interaction as well as understanding about the situations.
So, it was felt that youth to youth interactions in many levels.
Youth to Youth, Children Society to Children Society, Cultural group to cultural group, School to School and also fisheries group to fisheries group will be interacted under the leadership of various groups.
The responsibilities were undertaken by the team members them selves and Y-MESOC need to facilitate the dialogue through communication and many other possible ways.
As the next step, the youth group of 60 including 10 fishermen will come to South by end of April.
At the night, amidst the serious security situation, the group around 300 altogether had a cultural night which gave the close relationships of our rich cultures. Every one enjoyed the Jasaya Kolama when the southern team presented as a cultural item.
Also, with the life experiences of the northern people, they shared the life of general public during the war and the present crisis.
How the innocent civilians affected with the aerial bombing and shelling in their normal life.
The Sunday morning interactions were so emotional at the departing time of the group. It was felt that within two days, how far they were able to become closer to the hearts and minds of the families in the displaced camps.
We are facing a challenge of how to sustain this brotherhood and sisterhood for achieve our long term goal for peace and ethnic harmony of the country.