North and South Friendship Strengthens:
Mother Sri Lanka celebrates Deepavali in Jaffna
October 26, 2014: Jaffna, Sri Lanka
The true meaning of “Deepawali”, the “festival of light”, was further brought to life, by the friendship bridge built by Mother Sri Lanka Trust when over 200 brothers and sisters from the South visited their relatives in the North on October 24, 2014 travelling in none other than the Yal Devi train which was declared open just a few days ago by H.E. the President.
As a part of the reconciliation programs initiated by the Mother Sri Lanka movement, the second series of the “North –South Friendship Bridge” took place in Jaffna from 24 to 26 October 2014. The project concept includes bringing children from the North and South together in residential camps lasting 3-5 days where they engage in various activities that can lay the foundation for long term friendships among children and adults. The first such camp was held in Homagama where 200 children from Kilinochchi and Homagama participated in a 5 day camp at Maharagama.
This program was conducted in view of Deepavali which was celebrated on October 22nd and the reopening of the Yal Devi train service to Jaffna after a lapse of 24 years. Over 100 students from Royal College, Asoka Vidyalaya, Isipathana Vidyalaya, Gothami Vidyalaya, St. Lawrence’s Convent, Alethea International School and Homagama Maha Vidyalaya in the Western Province, as well as 50 undergraduates from University of Moratuwa started their memorable journey to meet their brethren in the North on 24 October 2014 from Colombo Railway Station. Secretary to Ministry of Education, Mr. Anura Dissanayake’s special visit to the railway station at 7am to see the children off also bound to have added to the special memories of these children.
When the parties arrived in Jaffna with kavum, kokis and gifts for their northern relatives, over 200 brothers and sisters from the North representing 23 schools were ready with a resounding welcome of drums and garlands at the Jaffna railway station followed by refreshments of modakam and vadai at Vembadi College. This memorable welcome was the start of 3 days of fun and camaraderie which laid a solid foundation for lasting friendships. The first day of activities were wrapped up with a campfire at the beautiful Thalsevana resort by the beach where the children got their first opportunity to showcase their talents to each other.
The next day’s activities started with a sightseeing tour of Jaffna covering the famous landmarks of the Jaffna Fort and library which was concluded in time to arrive for the morning pooja at Nallur kovil. It was heartening to see students and adults who belong to Buddhist, Christian and Muslim faiths join the Hindus to participate in this special ceremony organised for Deepavali.
The next item in the agenda was a motivational workshop at the Weerasingham Hall in the heart of Jaffna. Executive committee members of the Mother Sri Lanka Trust were joined by the Northern Provincial Army Chief Udaya Perera accompanied by Brigadier Kumudu Perera and other high ranked officers of the Sri Lanka Army, Northern Province education officers and representatives from the Northern Province Governor’s office for this event.
Chairperson of Mother Sri Lanka Trust, Ms. Janaki Kuruppu together with executive committee members Mangala Yapa, W.A.Wijethunga, Piyadasa Marambage, Samitha Hettige, Dhammika Dharmawardhane, Shiromi Masakorala thanked all the people who provided support for the success of this whole program and explained briefly the objectives of the North-South Friendship Bridge and why every citizen of the country should protect the peace earned with so much sacrifice of lives and enjoy the benefits of development, Udaya Perera Commander and W A Wijethunga, Trustee of Mother Sri Lanka also spoke on the importance of responsible citizenship and patriotism.
This memorable program of 3 days ended with the journey back to Colombo by Yal Devi on the 26th morning, among tears and cheers from all and a bag full of memories. A final point worth mentioning is that eventhough, Mother Sri Lanka’s main aim was to build lasting friendships among children, the friendships developed among the adults by the end of the program was also really heartening to see.
Mother Sri Lanka Trust, 101, R A de Mel Mawatha, Colombo 3.
Lalith Perera 0771351201