a page from the book One Country and One People
Creating Equality, Closing Gaps, Building Trust
- An innovative and creative initiative for children
by Sharadha de Saram – Project Leader
The Sunshine Charity together with Sri Lanka’s largest grass-root movement, the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movemnt launched the initiative, ‘Investing in Children’ based on the story ‘One Country and One People’. The story, originally written in English conveys creatively and positively the island’s colourful cultural fabric that weaves our nation’s people – from the colonial period of the Portuguese, Dutch and British to Independence of the country and what followed. The story goes on to explain the different ethnic groups that live on the island and the different faiths practiced.
As the forward in the book explains:
“At a time when we were children, we grew up with less hatred and mistrust that we find among our different ethnic and religious groups today. Times have changed, chiefly due to the continuous misjudging of events by most of us, whether we be policy makers, religious leaders, teachers or parents. The rapid changes that followed within our society soon led to major conflicts and confrontations between the different communities, eventually resulting in an ethnic war that served no purpose.
But war is not the only factor that divides us. If our attitudes do not change, the colorful fabric that once wove us together will slowly perish and disappear forever. This will result in long lasting ill effects for our children”.
In order to reach out to a wider audience, the story has been translated into the Sinhala and Tamil languages, spoken by the majority of people. The book will be distributed free of charge to children’s groups, clubs and community centres across the island. Reading workshops will be conducted alongside when children will read from the book and discuss the story while conveying their perceptions on multi-culturalism.
Sri Lanka like most other Asian countries consider Health, Nutrition and Education as the more important areas for investing in children. Although these are certainly some of the most fundamental rights of children, we have to consider removing inequality, discrimination and prejudices as equally important if we are to let our children build trust and close the gaps.
Both The Sunshine Charity and Sarvodaya have worked independently towards creating equal, inclusive and a tolerant society where children of all cultural backgrounds can live without bias or prejudices. This time, ‘Investing in Children’ will bring the two organizations together to implement the project as a civil society initiative, which will encourage children to embrace multi-culturalism and celebrate the difference in diversity.
Sharing knowledge, expressing opinions, telling stories is not something practiced usually or used commonly as a form of communication. It can however, help and contribute immensely in the recovery and healing process to build mutual understanding. Talking to one another and expressing opinions in a group can enrich the thought-flow significantly among children and adults. In this project, facilitated by the children and supported by educationalist, children will be encouraged to express their sentiments, attitudes and views on how they perceive Sri Lanka’s multi-cultural heritage. The discussion will be open, enriching and stimulating, adopting a theme not often explained to children either at school or home. As a result, children grow up unaware of the multi-cultural history of the country. Misconceptions must be addressed early in a child’s life and this is what the project envisions.
The children attending The Sunshine Day Care Centre will participate in the island-wide initiative. The future is in their hands too. As they grow-up they could be the agents of change – at school and in their communities. The seed that was planted in their young minds will certainly contribute to creating equality, close the gaps and build mutual trust in their generation.
another page from the book
the story continues
Sunshine Children enjoy picture telling
Together we shall learn
Learning to write