Since 2017, Play for Peace has had a presence in Sri Lanka. Our two clubs, Breeze of Peace Club and 3D White Feathers Club, have been working to create peace among children and adults in communities affected by violence and cultural divides. Sadly, on Sunday, April 21, 2019, our community was affected by the deadly Easter bombings, when suicide bombers detonated explosives in three churches and three hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka, killing more than 250 people and devastating the country.
While our community was greatly affected, our clubs’ commitment to peace remained strong. Just months after the tragic terrorist attack, in September 2019 Play for Peace certified trainers Swati and Agyat conducted three different trainings in conjunction with our partner organization Centre for Peace Building & Reconciliation (CPBR). The first training, which took place on September 7-9, was with youth from the northern region of Sri Lanka. Youth from Jaffna and Mullativu attended the training. After experiencing several different Play for Peace activities, the participants learned valuable lessons they could then share during future trainings in their own communities—including how cooperative games can bring joy to others, the importance of inclusion, and the best ways to work with children. The youth went back to their communities with a plan to do a peer training with adolescent groups—which started on September 21, the International Day for Peace.
“Inclusion was a [major] learning. Not to leave anyone behind,” shared Sathya, one of the training participants.
After the training, two more sessions followed in different regions of Sri Lanka, spreading Play for Peace methods, as well as our core values of cooperation, inclusion, caring, and fun, to hundreds of youth. The second training happened in Colombo with youth from Galle, Anurahdapura, and Polonnaruwa, which are in the South and North Central regions of Sri Lanka. The third training occurred on September 25-27 in the region of Hatton. It was attended by youth from Hatton (Central), Puttalam (Western Central), and Batticaloa (East) of Srilanka. The participants of the training represent all diversities of Sri Lanka. The Play for Peace trainings are a part of a larger program called Youth for Love and Life (YLL), whose vision is a reimagined future for youth in Sri Lanka.
By the end of October, nine districts in Sri Lanka will have a community of Play for Peace practitioners that includes 36 communities, 75+ youth facilitators, and 200+ adolescents reaching out to 1,500 children.
We are so very proud of the work our partners and clubs are doing in Sri Lanka and look forward to sharing their work. Despite the conflict that occurred five short months ago, the Play for Peace community is thriving, spreading laughter, compassion, and peace to children and youth in communities throughout Sri Lanka.