North/ South exchange program sponsored by the American Centre

The Foundation of Goodness together with the American Centre organised a North/ South student exchange between Jaffna and Seenigama to promote fellowship and reconciliation between all Sri Lankan communities. A charitable organization founded in 1999, the Foundation of Goodness (FoG) has worked extensively in the south, with a special focus on rebuilding rural communities following the devastating aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. Following the end of the war, the Foundation then expanded its activities to the north and has hosted numerous exchange programmes since then.

The most recent student exchange programme had a special focus on sports, with the Jaffna District Under 19 cricket team and Under 20 netball team visiting Seenigama for a 3 day programme from the 29th -31st of January 2016. The teams had a pit stop in Colombo for tea at the American Centre where they had organised a special programme for the kids including a movie.

In Seenigama, the teams settled in at the FoG Sports Academy which is a free of charge training centre coaching rural youth in a number of sports including cricket, netball, volleyball, karate and swimming. The Academy consists of the Bryan Adams Pool Complex, the Surrey Oval cricket grounds, netball & volleyball courts and a gym. The visiting students benefitted from training at these facilities and played two games each with the FoG Sports Academy cricket and netball teams.

These friendly matches were a great opportunity for the kids from the north and south to meet, mingle, test their skills against each other and realise that they were far more alike than they were different. The teams were actually so well matched that both the cricket and netball games ended in a draw, with each team winning one match.

The visiting players also had the opportunity to meet and make friends with the students from the FoG Tamil classes, a friendship that strengthens when the sports teams and Tamil class students from the South visited Jaffna later in February, as a reciprocal visit that completed this exchange programme.

By February 25th, the excitement was overflowing, as the children from the South made their way to Jaffna. Now, friends were reunited and the teams could test their skills against each other once more. The southern teams seemed very comfortable in the north, and the Seenigama Academy Cricket team managed to wrestle victory away from the Jaffna Combined team at the Jaffna College grounds in Vaddukadai.

The Netball team would only play one game with their friends from the Jaffna District Combined Team, and had the opportunity to test their skills against the girls from Victoria College, Jaffna during their second match and while they won the game against Victoria College the game against the Jaffna District Team ended in a draw, proving that these two teams truly were perfectly matched in skill.

The sportsmen and Tamil students from the south also had the chance to enjoy an evening with the residents of the Holy Family Orphanage in Jaffna where they sang and played together, teaching each other new songs and sharing their stories and experiences.

Through these interactions, the children and youth participating in this programme not only have a chance to see and experience each other’s lives, they also come to understand that there is nothing to fear in each other. Reconciliation and harmony begins with understanding and acceptance, creating friendships between groups that were previously isolated from each other. Through these exchange programmes, the Foundation of Goodness hopes to promote a feeling of oneness and fellowship amongst all Sri Lankans, regardless of language, religion or geography.

01st March 2016



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