#OurCommunities: 3D White Feathers, Sri Lanka

“Every change begins with a vision and a decision to take action.” —David Bornstein

I have been a blog writer for Play for Peace since 2016. Every once in a while I get to work on a story which reminds me why I started this journey with PFP. This is an inspirational story about 3D White Feathers, a Play for Peace Club in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka—a beautiful city on an island surrounded by a lagoon, located on the East Coast of Sri Lanka.

The Dipi Dipi Dappe (3D) White Feathers club formed after an hour-long discussion between volunteers who took part in the training session conducted by Agyat Mitra and Swati Bhatt during their visit to Sri Lanka in March. After a few sessions, the volunteers realized that play and creating a neutral environment is essential to spread peace among displaced communities in Sri Lanka.

3D White Feathers targeted some key areas to implement the Play for Peace program, with the specific goal of helping a particularly neglected group of children.

  1. Special Needs Children with Downs’ Syndrome and Autism
  2. Non-Verbal Special Needs Children
  3. Children living in the Post-War area of Batticaloa [Manmunai West]
  4. Children living in the underprivileged remote/rural area of Batticaloa [Kallady Veloor]

Batticaloa is said to be “the land of the singing fish” and has been under the influence of the Portuguese, Dutch, and British, which form an integral part of colonial Sri Lankan history, affected by both natural and man-made disasters.

Sagacious Youth Lead Consortium is the parent organization of 3D White Feathers. SYLC creates platforms for youth to LEAD [Learn Expertise Augment and Deliver]. SYLC has collaborated with two mainstream organizations:

  1. Centre for Peace Building and Reconciliation [CPBR]
  2. OpenEdge – Transforming Conflict in the UK.

The Founder and Director of SYLC, Kishoth Navaretnarajah, believes it his calling to help at-risk youth in his village, Kallady Veloor. The village has been severely affected by natural and man-made disasters and the children there are mostly uninterested in education and self-development. Due to a poor background and oftentimes uneducated and alcoholic parents, many children have an unpleasant environment at home, which impacts their ability, and desire, to learn.

Although the armed conflict ended in May 2009, the people, especially the children and youth, of Sri Lanka struggle to confront post-war memories and recover from collective trauma. In 2012, Kishoth helped created a learning-based environment by conducting multimedia-based teaching, and creating a learning-based environment with wall paintings and murals. This resulted in a rapid growth in education and students showed active participation in co-curricular activities.

In 2016, the “Towards Together” initiative,  a movement to heal the past and build the future, was developed. The movement targets youth who are affected by trauma, and works to help heal them through things like expressive art, drama therapy, and emotional safety facilitation. This movement fostered another movement, “Show you Can”, where children with disabilities are challenged to build their potential and achieve success.

Today Kishoth continues his work in sensitive areas like North Sri Lanka (Mullaitivu) and East Sri Lanka (Batticaloa). His vision is to create a world where everyone leads with integrity and embraces living in possibility!