Tharindu, one of the Sri Lankan youths that participated in the river journey last year, has been enthuastically inititating environment projects within his community. On day two of my time in Sri Lanka, Wednesday 4th July, Tharindu had organised three awareness raising presentation to take place at schools in his local area. Kanchana, Sameera a young university student who is getting training at ECO-V office, and I travelled the distance to present on climate change and sustainability in a more remote area of Sri Lanka.
The three schools were situated in Ruwanwella area, two of which were Sinhalese and one Tamil school ensuring that the message and knowlegde had a large and varied audience. Each presentation lasted an hour and a half and I was amazed with the undivided attention Kanchana was receiving from the students. At one of the schools the presentation for the older students was done in the main hall during a time that other students were on lunch break. To my surprise the young students snuck in, choosing to listen to Kanchana over enjoying their lunch. The student’s willingness to listen, absorb information and learn about new subjects I believe marks a fine character in Sri Lankans that I have witnessed during my stay here. Within one day this awareness program reached over 450 school students and many teachers.
While this presentation was happening we also conducted a survey to get a picture of the knowledge and prior awareness of these topics that these students held. The results highlighted the lack of information provided around sustainability and climate change, illustrating the need for further awareness raising in all areas of Sri Lanka. Education and awareness is one of the first and most important steps to social change. This was also a very important networking opportunity by building relationships with different schools and communities around Sri Lanka.
|Tharindu addressing gathering at his own school, with the presence of school principle|
After these presentations took place we had an appointment a local politician to talk about the projects that have been happening and to organise a date for a tree planting to happen in the area. These plantings will help the environments resistance towards the impacts of climate change while also reducing CO2 emissions. During this meeting the politician received us well marking the bridges that are slowly being formed between social issues and politicians in Sri Lanka.
Youths like Tharindu are inititating these grassroot events that are creating positive impacts while also encouraging movement towards a greener future. Eventually it would be the aim of ECO-V and Journeys for Climate Justice to provide these youths with enough support, information and training that they feel comfortable enough to do these presentations and meetings themselves. ECO-V and Journeys for Climate Justice is providing continual contact with these youth to enable their development and empower change within them so that they are able to create further change in their community.
|children of Rajasinghe Central College at mini exhibition on Climate change|
|Gathering at Rajasinghe Central College, Ruwanwella|
|Gathering at Tamil School in Ruwanwella|