SUBA UDE provides physical, creative and emotional projects for displaced persons living in welfare camps in Sri Lanka. We focus on psychosocial needs beyond food, shelter and medicine.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Love Child of USAID and Suba Ude

Youth Voice: The Living Together Project

Akkaraipattu is a mixed community of Muslims and Tamils. Part of the population is made up of war displaced persons, and the town was also affected by the tsunami. Incidents of violence and hartals are common, both in Akkairaipattu and in surround-ing areas, even after the ceasefire agreement of 2002. Mutual suspicion between ethnic communities exists at different levels, and youth especially feel frustrated at the lack of opportunities to express themselves and make their voices heard. This was the backdrop for the multi-media training program for youth that was launched by OTI in collaboration with Social Organization Networking for Development (SOND) in September 2005.
Seventeen young people from Akkaraipattu and the surround-ing towns were chosen to participate, based on their interest in community issues and possible media initiatives/interventions. They have chosen to name themselves “Youth Voice.” The course, designed by Marie Ange Bordas, a professional photog-rapher, sought to improve communication between multi-ethnic youth, their immediate environment, and their communities. Six girls and eleven boys between the ages of fifteen and twenty one have been working together and learning new skills of pho-tography, journalistic writing, and different modes of media and visual expression. The youth have visited the communities around them and documented all that interests them. In the words of one of the trainees, “This course allowed something that was locked inside me to come out.” Another stated that he had “…learned to solve conflicts that occurred in and outside the class, while working in this group.”
The end of the course will see the publication of a newsletter produced by the group, covering themes such as religious har-mony, the experience of being handicapped, thoughts about ethnic cooperation etc., to be distributed to NGO’s, schools and other organizations in and around the area. Individual projects carried out will result in a series of posters that celebrate diver-sity and support peace to be put up in neighboring towns.