Crossing Boundaries Youth Groups in Sri Lanka- Helvetas

Crossing Boundaries –Youth Groups in Sri Lanka project is mainly aimed at promoting peer learning and relationship building among culturally diverse young men and women (18-29 years of age) and their families of Galle in the Southern Province, Batticaloa in the Eastern province and Kilinochchi District in Northern Province of Sri Lanka and to create conditions where their active contribution to inclusive local development is valued.

The programme aims to bring together youth from all ethnic and religious backgrounds and to engage them in constructive dialogue of causes and effects of conflict, increase their understanding of possible spaces for engagement and participation and to promote peace and reconciliation towards national identity and pluralism.

This is a three years pilot project started in April 2016 and will continue till December 2018 with the generous financial support from Helvetas Swiss Inter cooperation Sri Lanka. MOU was signed between Helvetas and SLCDF, to implement this programme in three districts. This initial 3-year project from January 2016-December 2018 aims at testing and further adapting the project concept.

The Goal of this three years project is :

To promote sustainable reconciliation and peace in the districts of Galle in the South, Batticaloa in the East and Killinochchi in the North of Sri Lanka through youth involvement by enhancing inter-ethnic, inter-religious and cultural development.

The main activity of the project is to train selected youth leaders as community animators who will mobilize and give awareness to their peer groups and to the other community on importance of contribution to the process for lasting peace and reconciliation.

The programme has being implemented through youth selected from 3 districts, according to the selection criteria developed. So far 96 youth, both girls and boys from Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities under went training on conflict management, planning, participation and empowerment, social cohesion and peace building, networking and advocacy, and project management and enhanced their knowledge on these subjects and developed their skills as youth animators. They intervened to raise awareness among their families, peer groups and other community members to build a good rapport among these multi-cultural society without divisive misunderstanding, mistrust and suspicion and fear of the other communities.

Language classes provided spaces for these youth to learn Tamil and Sinhalese languages to break the barriers in communication. Youth Exchange visits among the three districts created spaces for youth for presentation of the talents of the youth in aesthetic studies, Improved confidence of youth in organizing and presentation of activities as leaders and developed positive and long term relationships between and among all youth and with the host families.

The results achieved so far, directs the programme to network with district and national level likeminded organisations and develop relationships with the government and policy makers to continue constructive dialogue, active participation to promote peace and reconciliation process.