Jul 06 2022.views 298
This tour is so important as the people of this county can WIN only by staying together and fighting with one United goal. Looking at our county now, we have really hit rock bottom with all our dreams put aside and we are living without knowing what tomorrow holds for us. I had the honor of joining this tour for a small leg of the journey and it’s been so rewarding to connect with people and see our young leaders fighting to bring our Lanka back on its feet.
For those who don’t know, what is Sri Lanka Unites ( SLU)? Sri Lanka Unites is a movement to promote reconciliation and youth leadership. We have served across Sri Lanka for 15 years and engaged over million youth leaders to be agents of peace, healing, and positive change-makers in their communities and their nation at large. Today we have 9 centers and serve in all 25 districts. Our efforts are made possible by the relentless commitment of our nearly 50-strong team and over 2000 volunteers. Over years we have trained students in nearly 500 schools and 20 state and private universities. The movement is strengthened by over 30,000 members and currently has 250 active clubs across the country.
Tell us about this national tour. The Sri Lanka Unites road trip / national tour has been a key event of our movement. This year we are on our 8th nationwide tour. We select some of our best student leaders representing all 9 provinces and travel the entire nation, speaking to students in schools, and universities on our message on national unity and the importance to create a Just and thriving nation. We recruit new members, establish new clubs, appoint a youth district council for community response and inter-religious engagement, and speak with other community leaders about our purpose as a movement and seek their support for us to reach more youth.
This year, given the economic crisis, we have added a few important responses to the crisis. We are expanding our mentorship and investment ( Sri Lanka Unites own version of Shark Tank ) program for young entrepreneurs from all 25 districts. We have had some amazing submissions by entrepreneurs from every district. They will now compete for investment from our panel of investors/mentors.
Partnership with Keells to provide dry rations for families impacted by the economic crisis. Over 1250 families from all 25 districts will receive aid and all be added to our database for long-term support. We will look to support these families.
We are also meeting with farmers ( parents of our students ) who have been crippled by the soaring fertilizer prices. Many of these farmers have given up on producing to their former capacity. We are looking to invest in fertilizer, fuel, and other expenses to help these farmers produce at their optimum capacity. In return, they will donate 50% of their rice and vegetable harvest to support families in urban areas. We hope to revive 20 acres of farming land and support 5000 families in urban areas.
We are also working with our SLU kids network to identify families with children under the age of 5. To ensure we can support them with nutrition in the midst of this food crisis. We hope to support 500 families with young children across our 9 centers.
Recipients of food aid in Kalutara
“I have not been able to eat for 2 days and my child hasn’t eaten all of yesterday. This pack will help me feed my family this week. Gives me time to find a new mode of income while we wait for fuel"
Student from Hambantota
“This is the first time we have had an extracurricular activity in our school since the pandemic. I was feeling so depressed about life in the midst of one crisis after the other. This training inspired me, educated me, and gave me hope that young leaders can change SL from this mess"
Student in Kurunegala after the workshop
“I have so much hatred in my heart towards Muslims. I never asked the question, why do I hate? At this event, I started thinking and realized that I was manipulated by certain media channels, celebrities, the presidential election campaign, and targeted social media campaigns with hate speech. I now realize how I was manipulated and led astray. A divided Sri Lanka only gave us a bankrupt nation. We can only build a great nation if we think for ourselves and stand united with each other”
An Entrepreneur SLU invested in
“Before SLU, my business was about to shut down. The pandemic was a devastating time for us. However, through the SLU shark tank program, Mr. Shalin Balasuriya and Mr. Fousul Hameed invested in us. We were able to buy a new machine and expand our marketing, Today our business has expanded 4x. We have so much confidence we can help bring Foreign currency to our country and create many jobs for our community"