A holistic rural community development model seeking to bridge the gap between the urban and rural communities via 10 empowerment divisions across 300+ villages island-wide reaching over 28,000 beneficiaries annually, free of cost.

From Point Pedro to Dondra Head, Uniting North and South: Student exchange programmes for a more peaceful Sri Lanka

 

Student exchange programmes that enable children from the North and South of Sri Lanka to interact and forge friendships are a corner stone of our reconciliation projects at the Foundation of Goodness.

In July, 62 students and their teachers from the Mannar Papamoddai Government Tamil Mixed School traveled south for the 1st stage of the FoG exchange programme.

‘This was the first time in years that our students have come to the South’ said the teachers from Mannar who were delighted to be given the opportunity to expand their horizons and travel to distant parts of the island, learning more about how their brothers and sisters in the South lived.

There were two main stops for these students on their trip to the southern half of the island, first in Colombo and then in Seenigama.

The group had a power packed few days where they visited a number of places of interest and were able to take in the sites in Colombo. The students enjoyed visits to the Dehiwela Zoo where they were able to see animals from all around the world for the very first time as well as learning more about our culture, history and space by visiting the Independence Square, Colombo Museum and Planetarium before finishing off with some seaside fun at Galle Face.

 

After exploring the city, the students visited our FoG MCC Centre of Excellence and Sports Academy in Seenigama, on the South coast of Sri Lanka. This was first visit to the Southern Province for all the students and marked the longest distance they had traveled!

Our FoG family rolled out the red carpet to make sure that the students from Mannar felt right at home. It was inspiring to see the students from both regions, overcome their language barrier and interact with each other, sharing stories and laughter. The students from the Tamil Link Language class had the chance to meet with the visitors to welcome them to the south and were able to really surprise the visitors with their command good of the Tamil language.

The 2nd phase of the North South Exchange Programme concluded in August, when FoG students from the South traveled to Jaffna. The group consisted of the FoG Sports Academy Cricket team, Netball team and the Tamil Language Class students.

 

The tour started off with spirited games of cricket and netball played against the Jaffna District Combined cricket team and the Sandilipay Hindu Ladies College netball team respectively. It was an amazing bonding experience as the power of sports and the love of the game transcended any communications barrier and all teams bonded over some healthy competition.

Our Mathagal Village Heartbeat Empowerment Centre in Jaffna gave the Southern group a wonderful welcome, taking them around the Jaffna peninsula to visit places of historic and religious importance. The historic Jaffna Fort, the Nallur Kovil and the Nagadeepa Temple made deep impressions on the Southerners. They also experienced the unique beauty of the region when they visited the northernmost point of the island: Point Pedro and visited the breathtaking Kankasanthurai beach.

The tour concluded with some hands on work as the boys and girls from the South joined in on some community service activities, helping clean up the beaches and picking up trash with their new friends. A gesture the students took to heart, showcasing their love and concern for a province and peers they had been unable to connect with for so long.

This was the first opportunity these students have had to interact with their peers from the other corner of the country. It was inspiring to see the spirit of camaraderie and kindness that shone through, as they transcended language barriers and came together to play sports, sing songs and educate each-other and overall just have a great time!

Exchange programmes like this go a long way towards dispelling prejudice and challenging stereotypes, empowering the next generation of Sri Lankans to create a kinder more peaceful society!

Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to the sponsors of the North South Exchange programme, the Mission of the United States Embassy in Sri Lanka by way of the Small & Mighty Grant.

 

Click to check out our video on the North-South Student Exchange Programme!