GPPAC-SA Marks International Peace Day
Kantale, Sri Lanka
  Focusing on International Peace Day as a rallying point, RCSS organized a wall painting in the town of Kantale, 46 kms South of Trincomalee. With the ready support of the Zonal Education Office of Kantale, GPPAC-SA brought together youth from 12 schools in the area, representing Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities.  An Art Competition among schools was conducted on 7th September, 2009, through which skilled students were selected to paint the wall of the Zonal Education Office, Kantale. The Kantale Zonal Education Office coordinates the educational activities of 13,000 students in schools in the area and the outer wall of the office was the most appropriate nerve point where the dreams, hopes and skills of Kantale’s multi-ethnic youth could be captured as paintings on the themes, “Peace” and “Nature.” This indeed is a groundbreaking collaboration between GPPAC-SA and the educational establishment in the area. Among the many objectives of the project, multi ethnic interaction, nature appreciation, and focusing on common positive platforms of convergence such as the link between humanity, peace,  and nature are some of the more prominent ones. This activity was also the first in the area that brought youth of different ethnicities and religions together for over a period of six consecutive days. On 14th September, 2009, students and teachers from 12 schools assembled at the Cultural Centre, Kantale. There was a buzz of excitement in the room, as the students took their seats. Hugging their boxes of paint and paint brushes, the students looked on expectantly as officials conducting the day’s session walked into the room. Addressing the gathering Mr. Ranikin A.Liyanage, Deputy Education Director Aesthetic Studies, Kantale, said that celebrating International Peace Day through the togetherness of 12 schools was indeed a gigantic achievement. He commended the commitment of the school principals, teachers, and students to engage in the painting activity for a whole week. Professor R.A. Ariyaratne, Director RCSS/GPPAC – SA, spoke on the importance of co-existence in a multi ethnic country. He appreciated the efforts of the Zonal Education Office and the Youth Service Officer, Kantale, and noted that these initiatives would bring about proper interaction among the students in the area and enhance the reconciliation efforts. Nilakshi Gunatillake, Regional Liaison Officer for GPPAC-SA, said that though 21 September is called the International Day of Peace, peace is not just a day but is a journey that needs to be undertaken with the strength of especially the youth in the country. On 15 September at 8.30 am, students assembled in front of the wall and were enthusiastically waiting for the painting to begin. After the briefing session and the students got down to work, it was a great pleasure to watch them at work. The front of the wall was a hive of activity and within an hour the students were busy with their creations. Some students held consultations with teachers, while some were measuring and marking the spaces allotted to them. Meticulous planning was evident within the student groups. Some were painstakingly transferring shared ideas onto the wall, while some were seen carefully mixing the required colours. It was clear that the students thrived on team work to complete the assigned tasks. The end of the activity on 19 September, marked the beginning of new friendships  for the youth. The feelings and thoughts that were laid down on the wall through colours and strokes of brushes vividly depict the hopes of the young and old in post conflict areas of Sri Lanka.