Sri Lanka

Where: Mahavilachiya is a border village/small town that was shrouded by the deadly Tamil conflict.

Why we went there: Although the conflict has been over for several years, its effects are still visible, in communities, families, and children. One person working to help children live lives without fear and apprehension and dream big is Mr. Nanda Waninaika who runs a school and multidisciplinary collective. CPI partnered with Nanda to reintroduce play, creative activities and traditional games.

What we did: Drawing, painting, traditional singing and dancing, telling stories, discovering traditional games and folklore through the village elders.

Outcomes: The constant interactive environment and atmosphere coupled with fun and discovery quickly led to all the kids opening up, experiencing a different sort of joy. Parents as well as school teachers commented on the positive change, lightness and greater participation as a result, vowing to continue the tradition.

Surprises: First surprise was that none of the children spoke English, but we all got along famously and communication was no problem. Second was the unbridled enthusiasm of the parents, families and community, who participated wholeheartedly, felt that this was way better for the kids than school, and became proactive in convincing local schools to embrace what we had done together as part of their own routine.