Tamil school children “on stage” to promote peace

» 09/17/2011 11:16

by Melani Manel Perera
In the district of Batticaloa, Drama and Theatre and workshop, three ‘street plays’ : development programme run by World Vision, a Christian organisation . The participants, 50 school pupils, victims of ethnic conflict.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – “We were born with the war. We only saw and heard one thing, that was sounds of firing. We did not have a childhood but with the peace dawn we could see our childhood”. This is the story told by a group of Tamil school children in the district of Batticaloa (eastern province), after they had taken part in a development programme run by a Christian aid and development organisation called World Vision.

Between 1983 and 2009 Sri Lanka was the scene of a bloody civil war between government troops and the Tamil Tigers rebel force ( LTTE) ,) fighting for an independent state (Tamil Eelam), in the Tamil majority northern and eastern provinces of the Island. The ethnic conflict ended with the defeat of the rebels. According to disputed UN Report, made public on April 24 this year, airforce bombing raids killed more than forty thousand civilians in the final stages of the war alone (2005-2009).

The purpose of the World Vision– Lanka programme called “East and West Peace Building” was to consolidate peace using three ‘street plays’ under one title ‘People of the Peace Street’ . From 150 children– aged 12 to 16 years – 50 were chosen to take part in a theatre workshop and rehearsals. The workshop teachers used Tamil and Sinhalese cultures and the programme lasted three months.

Nilakshini Vishwalingam is 13 years old and she would like one day to be a doctor: “I came to the workshop not knowing who I was or what were my talents. These teachers helped us a lot to discover our identity and take out our hidden talents, and feel we are talented children!”.

“Thanks to what we learnt from this drama workshop – says Dharmaratnam Dilakshan, aged 16– we now we can enjoy our lives with our talents, also we feel that we are members in one family. I was a very shy boy I have never come forward for anything before joining to this drama workshop. But today this work-shop has changed me a lot. Now we know what is good, what is bad.”. Dilakshan hopes to be an accountant.

“Lets get together and help each other”, “A drug free World” and “The importance of Education” were the titles of the three plays presented at Kiran Central College, at Korakallimadu Sri Ramana Maharishi Vidyalaya and Thihiliweddi Government Tamil Mixed School.