“It’s the youth that can change everything in the future. I see a good future for Sri Lanka. My dream is to be a peacebuilder, but before that I need to be a good Sri Lankan, without any ethnic or racist thoughts. I think peace is possible.” –Aninilavan
Aninilavan (Ani), a young Tamil from Mullaitivu, Sri Lanka, was ten years old when the civil war finally ended in 2009. A war between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan military, the Liberation Tigers were fighting to create an independent Tamil state for 25 years (1983-2009) and caused between 80,000 and 100,000 deaths. This war left the population traumatized and the country’s economy deeply affected. Mullaitivu was the last battle of the Tamil Tigers, before they laid down their weapons, ending the war.
Ani has seen more death and destruction than any young boy should have to witness in a lifetime. Instead of resentment, Ani chose to become a peace builder in Sri Lanka. Today, at the age of 19, he volunteers for a peacebuilding and reconciliation organization in Sri Lanka.
In March 2018, certified trainers Swati Bhatt and Agyat Mitra visited Sri Lanka for almost three weeks, conducting training sessions with three clubs in different cities across Sri Lanka. Swati and Agyat met Trudy Juriansz, coordinator for the Asia Pacific region of GENOA (Global Eco Village Network Ocenia Asia), years ago at a non-violent communications convention in India. They organized their first Play for Peace training in 2016 and hosted it in Trudy’s house in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Through Trudy, contact was made with Dishani Jayweera, founding member of the Center for Peacebuilding and Reconciliation, where Ani volunteers.
Ani organized a two-day Play for Peace training for his group of youth volunteers, hoping to use the Play for Peace methodology to overcome the ethnic and cultural divides in his community and create friendships. Like him, many young people dream of peace and stability in Sri Lanka, and are actively working toward creating thriving communities. The group officially formed a Play for Peace Club called “Breeze for Peace” after the training, and are now organizing practice peace sessions in their community and in schools.
Swati and Agyat trained a total of 70 young Sri Lankan peace builders during their March 2018 trip in the Play for Peace methodology. Those peace builders are all deeply motivated to create long-lasting peace in their country.
“It’s the youth that can change everything in the future. I see a good future for Sri Lanka.” Ani said. “My dream is to be a peacebuilder, but before that I need to be a good Sri Lankan, without any ethnic or racist thoughts. I think peace is possible.”