Excerpts from Closing Remarks
Delivered at Young Canadians Peace Dialogue on Sri Lanka
Romesh Hettiarachchi | March 14, 2011
Over the past few months, the Young Canadians Peace Dialogue on Sri Lanka has given participants a greater insight into the opportunities and challenges facing Sri Lanka today. In particular, our last session, “Making Peace Personal” highlighted the importance of possessing a life-long dedication to acheiving a fair and just peace in Sri Lanka.
Today, the Organizers of the Dialogue invite you to share in the same commitment exemplified by our speakers by being part of our legacy project, BuildChange.
Aims of BuildChange
BuildChange demonstrates to the world that communities in conflict can identify and work towards shared and common interests. Over the next four months, BuildChange shall ensure that a number of war-affected communities will gain access to clean drinking while showcasing the incredible potential awaiting Sri Lanka if our people can learn to work constructively and respectfully with each other.
Our BuildChange project will fund the construction of 25 wells in Mullaitivu, Killinochi and Vavuniya districts. The main beneficiaries of the project shall be former Internally Displaced Peoples who have returned home to find that they lack proper water and sanitation facilities. Preference for the beneficiaries will be the most vulnerable i.e. women- headed households, senior citizens and the disabled.
The water wells will change the lives of 50 families, improving their access to clean drinking water, increasing the level of household sanitation and reduce the risk of waterborne diseases. In addition community members will also be trained on well maintenance and repair.
BuildChange is privileged to have support of two major Canadian institutional supporters. The Mosaic Institute, the think-tank that has been the driving force behind the dialogues, shall continue to provide critical logistical and institutional support to our efforts.
In addition, our success will be built on the support and goodwill of the Canadian Rotarian Water Foundation. An organization affiliated with Rotary International, the Foundation has a particular specialty in providing sustainable water delivery solutions in developing countries. The Foundation has done the due diligence on the project and will issue tax receipts for collected funds.
All funds collected shall be forwarded to the Rotary Club of Colombo South who in turn will build the wells.
Much of the history of post-independence Sri Lanka has been defined by communal grievances and misunderstandings. These events escalated into a violent and brutal war that encompassed most of my life and I suspect the vast majority of people in this room. The consequence of this war still scar our parents and our grand parents generation, with the current policies of the Sri Lankan government and global Tamil separatist movements only being a reflection of these wounds.
However the future of Sri Lanka cannot continue to be dictated by the events of our past. We are not destined to live apart and in fear of each other. We in fact can learn to respect, honour and love the contributions and experience of different communities, as these dialogues have demonstrated.
However it is up to each of us to make the individual and personal commitment to do what is necessary to build the future we all want to see in Sri Lanka. Our BuildChange project gives us that chance to lay one more brick to build that future.
We look forward to your participation.