After the decades long war, Sri Lanka is marching forward with rapid development goals, intended to create growth in both urban and rural sectors. With the development process, there are strong indications to suggest a significant erosion of traditional cultural values in the society. Morality & values, high degree of self-sufficiency, hard work, strong family and community bonds, were key characteristics of our ancient villages. Unfortunately, today these attributes have weakened considerably creating many socio-economic issues that were not seen before.
Our rural communities which were once bastions of our cultural heritage and values seem to be transforming into barren cultural landscape, devoid of values, and devoid of good quality people with brains and hearts capable of providing the right leadership for the village to evolve and flourish.
Good capable people are leaving the village in pursuit of better opportunities and living conditions in the cities. Growing disparity between the rural household incomes and the cost of living is effectively putting the villagers in a very difficult situation. Children are preoccupied with increasingly competitive education system and parents also have to dedicate much of their time to work to keep up with the growing aspiration and need to earn more. To make things worse, media and other forces of change are pushing these villagers to a lifestyle that seems to be un-sustainable and alien to these communities.
A weak community is a burden on the rest of the society, and a potential breeding ground for social unrest and crime. “Tharuna Saviya” brings in a long term strategy to give strength to these villages. Some areas of crucial importance are listed below:
Strengthen the values, morality and community bonds in the village.
Create environment to retain good people in the village and develop a solid core of people rich with values and skills
Make “family” to be a strong central unit of the community
Invest in the younger generation to make a lasting change
Develop social and environmental responsibility in both children and adults
Drive to increase economic output from the village, create more employment opportunities in the village while preserving our value system.
Introduce sustainable development practices to the village, while making the best use of technology.
With the above backdrop, Karuna Trust has initiated “Thurunu Saviya”, a program to help develop the next generation of rural leadership based on our traditional cultural values and the skills needed to be successful in the modern society. “Tharuna Saviya” seeks ways to encourage rural children to grow up with a responsibility to play their roles as volunteers and active community members so as to nurture self-reliant local communities with a promise of building a strong and vibrant civil society alongside a strong and effective state, keeping our cultural heritage intact.
This program is designed to identify students with promising potential at a young age and provide them necessary training and financial assistance to grow into young leaders who would take on the responsibilities of development of their communities. Under this program 10 clusters will be formed in selected rural communities with 30 students each. These students will be provided special training in areas such as IT, English, Leadership training and team work, community service, Drug and Alcohol prevention, social and environmental responsibility. Students will also be provided with a monthly scholarship for their education related expenses through their university level education.
Five communities have been identified for the initial launch of this program scheduled for March 2013. These are from the following areas: Rambuka, Karadana, Thelijjavila, Galle and Hiniduma
So far one cluster has been sponsored by a donor organization. The student group from Rambuka Village will be sponsored by Center for Sustainability (C4S) based in Melbourne Australia, while the other cluster are currently funded by Karuna Trust. We are seeking kind support from donor organizations and individuals for this effort.