Full Name - Hans Billimoria
Hometown - Mount Lavinia
Birthday - January 30
Idols - Have clay feet
Passions - Saltwater crocodiles that wear lipstick
Favourite Colour - Purple
What is human rights according to you?
The right to be you, or me.
What made you start working with HIV awareness?
In India I worked on a project that supported people living with HIV to get back on their feet and be contributing citizens once again. It was inspiring to see them reclaim their lives. We also buried far too many people who died of AIDS related complications because they didn’t access support and treatment early enough. The stigma and discrimination that results from ignorance, often willful, continues to fascinate me.
What is the biggest challenge in Sri Lanka for the youth?
Accessing information and services in a non-judgmental environment – what are the chances?
What do you think about the new changes in parliament and do you feel sex education is given priority?
Change often takes a while coming we’re told, however we need to recognize that our children and young people need accurate and comprehensive age appropriate relationship education sooner than later. This latest fall out over cyber exploitation that we’re working on – which in it’s crudest form involves the blackmailing of someone over a naked picture they had sent, underpins the dire need for us adults to help our children negotiate the world. To help them learn respect for self and others, which will in turn, hopefully, have an impact on how they treat each other.
What qualities do you look for in the people you hang out with?
Those who judge not and live.
What is the message given by the Grassrooted Trust?
Let’s be sensible in our approach to what we consider taboo.
What does empowerment mean to you?
Independence. Empowerment that doesn’t lead to independence is a farce. Development agendas that continue to make communities depend on donors and funding agencies for subsistence are a joke. We need partnerships, not handouts.
The Grasrooted Trust is working with GLF. Tell me about the experience.
We’re grateful for the opportunity to share these stories that reflect our urgent need to stop being the Sri Lankan ostrich.
What values are you committed to?
Nietzsche said revalue values. Make them work.
What do you hope to see in 2016?
We hope that we stop talking about the need for comprehensive sexuality or relationship education, and come together, move forward; begin with conducting training programmes for our teachers to implement the existing sexual health curricula drawn up by the National Institute of Education. We hope to see teachers actually teach the lessons on sex and reproduction and not shy away from that challenge with inane excuses and bruised sensibilities – 22 kids of school going age contracted HIV in 2014 and 23 in 2015 according to our National HIV Programme. Surely that is an indicator that our system is broken.
You won Best Supporting Actor at the last film awards. Tell me about the movie, and how was it working on it?
Parakrama Jayasinghe wrote and directed the film. It was my first experience of that kind, and I was fortunate enough to have the likes of Michelle Herft and W. Jayasiri, Sando Harris and the Kos Gaha in the back garden which was our prep space for each scene. Great crew. Great people.
Tell me about a few plays we will get to see at GLF 2016.
The plays focus on the different aspects of cyber exploitation. The sharing of the naked picture and the exploitation and angst that follows. We have W. Jayasiri playing a Buddhist priest and Hemasiri Liyanage playing a policeman kicking us off with a conversation in a village temple about how we should react to this phenomenon that our children and young people call “a culture”, “a trend”, “normal.” A camera on your phone is a camera with you always. It’s no longer on the top shelf of your father’s cupboard anymore, with everything else considered remotely precious in the 80s. Unlimited access to a camera means unlimited opportunities for a photograph. We tease this out for over just over an hour, looking at it from every angle possible; perpetrators, perverts, peeping toms and parents. Wireless victims. They’re all here. You might just recognize yourself. These performances are based on the testimonies and interviews we’ve conducted since May of 2015 when we were approached by a group of 70 victims who were being blackmailed by an anonymous person/group that has organized over 2000 girl’s pictures into a database, with names and descriptions of the picture. This database is set up to share and trade, which includes links on Dropbox with over 400 “nudes” at a time, provocatively named “Delish”. But let’s not pretend this happens with just the kids. Digital cameras and dialup connections, even Kodak film once upon a time. This is a Sri Lankan story. Not just Colombo. Today, it’s wherever there is a phone with a camera.
What is the message you are trying to achieve out of this?
In the spot
Will it mean a less corrupt political culture?
The new Budget?
Bras at concerts?
Would you enter politics, and if you do, what would you like to contribute to the society?
PM of Sri Lanka?
Lives on 5th Lane.