Holds Youth Leadership and Harmony Ambassador Camp
After completing a decade of dedicated service to the motherland, Mother Sri Lanka celebrated its 10th anniversary with a Youth Leadership and Harmony Ambassador Camp, held from 30 September to 2 October to coincide with World Children’s Day.
The series of events consisted of the Project RUN 2017/18 final award ceremony, held at the NSBM Green University auditorium, which was the culmination of Mother Sri Lanka’s community development project competition, and the opening ceremony of the Youth Leadership and Harmony Ambassador Camp.
The award ceremony was graced by State Minister of Unity & Co-existence A H M Fowzie, MP Dinesh Gunawardena, Secretary to the Ministry of Education S. Hettiarachchi and Secretary to the State Ministry of Unity & Co-existence S. Nanayakkara. The unique events were attended by over 700 students and teachers representing all 9 provinces of the country, who were the winners of Mother Sri Lanka’s largest school program, held over a 2 year period for the 6th time. At the conclusion of the opening ceremony, 250 of the youth leaders and their teachers moved to the South Asian Teacher Development Centre at Meepe, for the 3 day camp to train on Youth Leadership and Harmony Ambassadorship.
“When I embarked on this journey of ‘Mother Sri Lanka’ on 19 November 2008, I never imagined that we will be at this stage ten years later. What made me start the movement was the sheer negativity that was prevalent in the country at that time. All of our work is done by volunteers, including myself, and the funding is from generous donors from the private sector, along with the endorsement of the Ministry of Education. We have faced a lot of hurdles, and we almost gave up in 2015, however, we managed to overcome the hurdles, and here we are going from strength to strength. The saying that ‘if we do something honest and right, you cannot go wrong’ has been really true for Mother Sri Lanka, it is the passion and commitment of my team that has made this possible,” were the words of Founder/ Chairperson of the Mother Sri Lanka movement Dr Janaki Kuruppu.
The participants of the camp were youth leaders representing all nine provinces of the country. The participants enjoyed this unique and rare opportunity of spending 3 days together and enjoying the company of youth from different geographies, different cultures, and different socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. They were privileged to listen to over 10 prominent national level speakers on the topics of unity and leadership and responsibility to the motherland.
The camp, which started on the morning of 30 September with a grand ceremony at the luscious auditorium of NSBM Green University, put the mood right for an event packed with knowledge sessions and fun sessions. After the ceremony, the leaders of the winning teams of Mother Sri Lanka Project RUN islandwide competition went to the South Asian Centre for Teacher Development for a sumptuous lunch and to start the camp. The lessons for the first day, which started with powerful lectures from Prof Gunapala Nanayakkara, and Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe on one’s duty to your country and employer, ended with an interesting session on what to expect in the future, which covered artificial intelligence and global warming. At the end of this long day, the participants were given a treat with a hilarious comedy session from the famous Wilson Gunaratne. After rolling in laughter for over one hour, the organisers called it a day in order to be ready by 5 am for a long day on next day. The second day, which started with a physical training session at 6.30, had 6 hours of lessons on career guidance, leadership, and entrepreneurship conducted by YouLead, a youth leadership program funded by AMCHAM. This was followed by Hans Billimoria and Ali Sabry, who kept the participants extremely alert for 2 hours. The final session was a panel discussion led by Mother Sri Lanka Chairperson Dr Janaki Kuruppu, along with the board members of the movement, where the children were asked to share with the panellists their experience at the camp, and their future plans to build unity and harmony and responsible citizenship in their local communities when they return back home.
“As I leave to go home today, I leave being a different person. The guest speakers were all capable of inspiring and strengthening my Sri Lankan spirit. Unlike other events, every single speaker added value, and I am so privileged to get a chance to listen to such prominent speakers. The second day activities brought out the leader in me. I loved the fact that I got to work with different people of different races and religions,” said Andrew Bernard, one of the participants.
“I will never forget the Children’s Day 2018. I can’t forget the friendships that we made with Sinhala, Muslim, and Tamil friends, we learnt the value of living in harmony,” was the reaction of R J Imasha of Maputugala Maha Vidyalaya.
Referring to the impact of the success of the event, Mother Sri Lanka Executive Committee member Riyaz Saban said: “To our much delight, our efforts had seen fruitful results in terms of inculcating the leadership attitude in the mind-sets of those children, who are to be adults tomorrow and play their role for the motherland. The beaming smiles on the faces of the little ones, was itself an ample testimony of how they wish to live happily together. It was a great achievement to all of us dedicated to the cause of prosperous Sri Lanka, as we see the success of our collective endeavours in creating a strong impact and laying a firm foundation in the minds of our future generation, to become responsible citizens and live in peace and harmony as one nation in this beautiful paradise. Salute to Mother Sri Lanka.”
The events were partnered by the Ministry of Education, the State Ministry for Unity & Co-existence, the Office for National Unity & Co-existence, Brandix Lanka and YouLead.