Vancouver Island Branch Represents the RCS at 150th Highland Games
The Royal Commonwealth Society was recently represented at the 150th Highland Games by the Vancouver Island branch.
The Games were held in Victoria BC from 18th - 19th May and the branch hosted a stall at the Games, where the public were invited to guess the countries of the Commonwealth and purchase memorial buttons. The Commonwealth flag was also included in the Opening Ceremony parade.
The two-day event was very popular and many guests visited the Commonwealth stall. The event was also attended by HRH The Duke of York, who was in attendance as the Games Chieftan.
Commonwealth Compared 2013: Setting the Scene
Thursday 23 May 2013
On Thursday 23 May 2013, the Royal Commonwealth Society launched their new research, 'Commonwealth Compared 2013: Setting the Scene'.
An event was held to present the initial findings of the research and speakers included Chairman and President of YouGov, Peter Kellner, Vice Chair of the British Council, Baroness Prashar, former Minister of State for the Commonwealth, The Rt Hon the Lord Howell of Guilford and the High Commissioner for Antigua and Barbuda, His Excellency Mr Carl Roberts CMG.
The research was conducted to ascertain whether membership of the association confers any measurable advantage upon its states and to do this it compares Commonwealth countries with their non-Commonwealth regional and economic counterparts across a range of indicators.
The first ever Commonwealth index of its kind, the report shines new light on the association's greatest strengths and weaknesses. The RCS will now use this research to launch further publications and constructive debates around the potential of the Commonwealth.
To download the report, click here .
RT Hon Hugo Swire MP speaks at Commonwealth Youth Ministers' Meeting
Friday 19 April 2013
Foreign Office Minister, the RT Hon Hugo Swire MP, has attened the Commonwealth Youth Ministers' Meeting to discuss the involvement of young people in current affairs.
The Minister joined Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill, and Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, for the opening of the meeting in Port Moresby.
For more information, click here.
Commonwealth Poem Commissioned
Tuesday 26 March 2013
A poem was specially commissioned for Commonwealth Day 2013 by Afro-Guyanese poet John Agard. 'From Over The Mountain Came News' is based around the 2013 Commonwealth Theme of 'Opportunity through Enterprise'.
Sir Richard Branson interviewed by Essay School
Thursday 21 March 2013
The students - who won tickets to attend the Commonwealth Day Observance by taking part in the Commonwealth Essay Competition - were taking part in the BBC School Report scheme, after having listened to the Founder of the Virgin Group deliver his Commonwealth Day address in Westminster Abbey.
The full interview is available to watch on the BBC School Report website, click here to view.
Commonwealth School Enterprise Challenge is Launched!
Wednesday 13 March 2013
The Royal Commonwealth Society was proud to support the launch of the Commonwealth School Enterprise Challenge on Monday 11 March, timed to coincide with the Commonwealth Day celebrations and the launch of the 'Opportunity through Enterprise' theme.
The Commonwealth School Enterprise Challenge is a business competition for young people who want to make a difference in the world. The competition asks school students to start an environmentally friendly enterprise that will solve a problem in their local community.
Run by Teach A Man To Fish in partnership with the Royal Commonwealth Society and Ashoka, the competition takes place in two stages. In the first stage, students are asked to design a business plan and in the second, to launch and run an enterprise, generating income either for their school or for a cause of their choosing.
We hope to see schools from each of the 54 countries of the Commonwealth taking part in the Challenge and look forward to seeing bright young entrepreneurs emerge.
The Challenge offers prizes of up to $5000 for the best business plans and businesses, as well as individual prizes for the most inspitational teachers and the most enterprising students.
Commonwealth Day Observance 2013
Tuesday 12 March 2013
On Monday 11 March, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, The Rt Hon The Lord Howell of Guilford and Commonwealth High Commissioners joined 2,000 guests at the Commonwealth Day Observance at Westminster Abbey.
Her Majesty The Queen's traditional Commonwealth Day message was played in the Abbey, in which The Queen celebrated the 2013 Commonwealth theme, 'Opportunity through Enterprise'.
Entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Richard Branson spoke, highlighting the role the Commonwealth has played in the expansion of many Virgin companies, he said: "The Commonwealth is all about creating opportunities to spread good ideas across geographical barriers, nurturing talent and encouraging collaboration. It thrives through unity, but also encourages dynamism and diversity." To read the full address, click here.
Award-winning soul singer Beverley Knight, indie-rock duet The Noisettes and dance group Living The Dream performed at the Observance, Britain's largest annual inter-faith gathering.
Founding President and Executive Director of Avaaz, Ricken Patel delivered a thought-provoking speech and children's poet, John Agard, read a poem specially commissioned for the event. The last lines of which, reminded listeners that opportunity is created through hard work and enterprise.
There were 1,000 young people present in the Abbey, all of whom had won their tickets because of their involvement in enterprise, whether that was through this year's Commonwealth Essay Competition which focuses on enterprise or through projects such as Young Enterprise or the 'Ladder for London' apprenticeship campaign.
Commonwealth Day also marks the launch of the Commonwealth School Enterprise Challenge; a business competition for young people who want to make a difference in the world. The attending schools and thousands of their peers across the Commonwealth will be invited to take part.
Kingham Hill pupil chosen to present Royal posy to Queen at Commonwealth Day Observance
Friday 8 March 2013
Commonwealth Essay Competition participant, 13 year old Danika Quick, from Kingham Hill School, Chipping Norton has been chosen from amongst 1,000 young people to present Her Majesty's Royal posy at the Commonwealth Day Observance on Monday.
Danika has been chosen because of her school's enterprising and innovative 'Coppers to Water' charity campaign.
The 'Coppers to Water' campaign was an initiative by students at Kingham to raise money for a clean water initiative in Ethiopia. Through a range of measures, including a 'poverty lunch', a sponsored swim and a bake sale, students managed to exceed their target of raising £3,500 – proving that if enough people pool their coppers something big can be achieved!
RCS Essay School interviews Commonwealth Secretary-General
Friday 8 March 2013
Two students from Acland Burghley, Camden recently intervied the Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma.
Acland Burghley school regularly takes part in Royal Commonwealth Society youth projects, having entered both the Jubilee Time Capsule and the Commonwealth Essay Competition. The students were delighted when they were given the opportunity to interview His Excellency at Marlborough House.
The students talked to the Secretary-General about the origins of Commonwealth Day and the importance of the Commonwealth Charter. The full video is available to view below.
The Commonwealth Charter: an important milestone
by the Rt Hon Hugo Swire MP
Tuesday 5 March 2013
I was delighted to visit the Royal Commonwealth Society in December to give my first keynote speech on the institution since joining the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. As I said then, and as I have been saying ever since, we are determined to support and promote the Commonwealth; we believe it is a truly unique organisation and the world's best soft power network.
For this Government, Commonwealth values and principles underpin everything we do. That is why I am so pleased that the Commonwealth has agreed on a Charter setting out those values. And it is the Charter I want to write about today.
As those with an interest in the Commonwealth, you and I know well the good work it does and the value it adds to international diplomacy. As well as giving practical advice on governance, economic growth and sustainable development, it works to integrate the youth of the Commonwealth into political and development processes and to strengthen the resilience of small states and vulnerable states. Now this work and these aims are laid out for all to see in one accessible place.
This week, for the first time in its sixty-four year history, the Commonwealth will have a single mission statement to underpin the work that it does: a Charter. This marks an important milestone in the Commonwealth modernisation process and the future of the organisation. We want to ensure the organisation strengthens its impact and relevance in today's world; the Charter will contribute to that.
The Charter's values are those which member nations think are important enough to enshrine in one single document to which we all subscribe. It would be misleading to say that all Commonwealth countries already adhere, without exception, to every value we have identified. But by setting them out and agreeing to them, we are on the road to ensuring that they become common currency across the Commonwealth.
Agreed in the year of the Diamond Jubilee, the Charter is due to be presented to Her Majesty The Queen on Commonwealth Day. We know her to be a staunch advocate of the work of the Commonwealth, so this feels entirely fitting and appropriate. Indeed, on her visit to our offices late last year, she took time to speak to our Commonwealth teams and hear about the work we are doing across the world.
We will take the opportunity offered by Commonwealth Week to raise the profile of the Charter in the United Kingdom. Our efforts will centre on Parliament, youth organisations and civil society to increase awareness and engagement.
I hope that the Charter becomes the established statement of what the Commonwealth stands for, and a means to protect and promote core democratic values throughout the Commonwealth in years to come. It should be accessible to all Commonwealth citizens and organisations. And its commitments should be known and understood by them too, because this will help all of us hold member states to account in championing the values we have all agreed.
The Future of the Royal Commonwealth Society and the Club
Thursday 28 February 2013
Today, the Council of the Royal Commonwealth Society has announced that it has exchanged contracts to dispose of leases on Northumberland Avenue.
At the AGM last year, the Council presented plans to restore financial stability to the Society by selling the leasehold on 17/21 Northumberland Avenue and ending the rental agreement on 25 Northumberland Avenue. It was judged to be essential to do this in order to ensure a future for the Society.
It is now possible to report that after a long and careful consideration and a protracted process, the RCS has secured arrangements that meet our financial objectives. This does however mean that we have been unable to retain a foothold in the property. These arrangements will be completed in June this year.
The Society has had its home in Northumberland Avenue since 1922 and of course there is a great affection for the premises. The Council has not taken these steps lightly. However, the first duty of the trustees is to secure the viability of the Society.
The Society will be continuing its work on all current programmatic activity, including our Essay Competition, other schools work, advocacy campaigns, and events work. The Society is also currently developing new projects and ideas to take forwards beyond 2013.
Looking to the future, the Council will review the best way for the Society to meet its charitable objectives and to continue the important work as a respected part of the Commonwealth network. This review will also pay particular attention to the role that Members and Branches can play and will include the recruitment of a permanent Director.
For further details and information on how these changes will affect members, please click here.
Further information will be released as plans develop and in the meantime the Society will look forward to seeing members, stakeholders and their guests at the Club in the months ahead, especially during the busy time of Commonwealth Week.
Please do not hesitate to contact the RCS on 0207 766 9257 if you have any questions.
To download the press statement, click here.
RCS Chairman speaks to Parliament on Sri Lanka
Wednesday 27 February 2013
On Wednesday 27 February, the Chairman of the Royal Commonwealth Society Peter Kellner made a speech at the Houses of Parliament on the subject of human rights and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.
Prince Charles Meets Essay Competition Participants
Monday 18 February 2013
On Monday 18 February, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales met students taking part in this year's Commonwealth Essay Competition
As part of an exciting day-long seminar on the 2013 Commonwealth Theme 'Opportunity through Enterprise', students aged 12 - 18 years-old attended a creative-writing workshop, where they used the Commonwealth Essay Competition as a vehicle to explore different ways of expressing their views. The students then presented their opinions on tackling youth unemployment in the Commonwealth to The Prince.
Schools that took part include Hellesdon High School, Norfolk; Impington Village College, Cambridge; Parkside Community College, Cambridge; Southfield School for Girls, Kettering; and Westminster Academy, London.
The day coincided with the recent launch of an online submission platform, through which students across the Commonwealth can quickly and easily submit their essays here.
Run by the Royal Commonwealth Society since 1883, the Commonwealth Essay Competition is the world's oldest and largest schools' international writing competition. For 2013 the competition is being run in partnership with Cambridge University Press, who will help attract new audiences to the competition.
This event comes in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Day Observance which will be taking place in Westminster Abbey on Monday 11 March, and will formally launch the Opportunity through Enterprise theme in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen and 2000 guests.
The Commonwealth Charter
Monday 18 February 2013
On 11 March, the Commonwealth marks its annual Commonwealth Day when we will celebrate this unique organisation of 54 states, representing 30% of the world's people.
This year we have an extra special reason to celebrate. For the first time in the Commonwealth's 64-year history, all of the Heads of Government belonging to the organisation have agreed to adopt a Commonwealth Charter. This means that the Commonwealth now has a single document which sets out basic values that the people of the Commonwealth believe in and which they expect their governments to support and protect.
By outlining 16 core values in the Charter, Commonwealth leaders are committing themselves to upholding democracy and human rights, promoting tolerance and respect, protecting the environment, providing access to health, education and food and recognising the positive role of young people in promoting these and other values. We hope that all people in the Commonwealth can continue to enjoy the values which their leaders have agreed to.
We are looking forward to events during Commonwealth Week (11-15 March) when the Charter will be officially launched. On Commonwealth Day, the Commonwealth Secretary-General will present a special copy of the Charter to The Queen, who is Head of the Commonwealth. British MPs and Lords will also be able to debate the Charter in Parliament.
Keep an eye on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's website for news and pictures marking the launch of the Charter, read it on the Commonwealth Secretariat's website, use the lesson plan - and tell your friends about it!
Invitation to Tender: Sponsorship Management for Commonwealth Day Observance
Wednesday 16 January 2013
The Royal Commonwealth Society organises an annual event at Westminster Abbey on behalf of a group of Commonwealth organisations (The Council of Commonwealth Societies or CCS) called the Commonwealth Day Observance.
The Observance is the UK's largest celebration of Commonwealth Day and is a multi-faith service that takes place in the presence of HM The Queen, the British Prime Minister (or a representative), High Commissioners, Commonwealth dignitaries, specially invited guests and approximately 1,000 schoolchildren (2,000 people in total). The service features testimonies and performances from well known Commonwealth citizens, who in recent years have included Annie Lennox, Rufus Wainwright and Hugh Masekela, alongside traditional hymns and prayer.
Each year, the CCS looks to corporate sponsors and other supporters to help meet the cost of running the Commonwealth Day Observance, and we are currently looking for a consultant or organisation to help us find and manage the sponsorship for this event.
You can find more information about this opportunity here . If you would like any more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Artist paints Jubilee Time Capsule presentation to The Queen
HM The Queen and 2012 Junior Commonwealth Essay Competition winner, John Samson Copyright @ Xavier Pick
London-based artist, Xavier Pick, has painted Her Majesty The Queen receiving the Jubilee Time Capsule from John Samson, a pupil at the Jacaranda Foundation in Malawi, and this year's Junior Commonwealth Essay Competition winner.
Xavier was invited to paint the Jubilee Time Capsule presentation on Wednesday 14 November, having entered two paintings into the Capsule. The paintings that Xavier submitted to the Capsule record the Diamond Jubilee Pageant and the 2012 Men's Olympic Road Race.
Having taken sketches on the day, then using a combination of photos, video and a special sitting from John, Xavier produced a beautifully vibrant painting of the day, which captures Her Majesty, John and Marie Da Silva, the founder of the Jacaranda Foundation, in the foreground.
As a token of the day, Xavier donated the painting to the Jacaranda Foundation, where it now hangs in the library as a reminder of the day John met The Queen.
For more information, and to see Xavier painting Her Majesty, see the below video.
Queen receives RCS Jubilee Time Capsule
Wednesday 14 November 2012
The Jubilee Time Capsule has officially been given to Her Majesty The Queen!
At the Royal Commonwealth Society's historic London headquarters today, 200 JTC contributors, partners and supporters joined RCS staff in the presentation of the Diamond (re)Collection to The Queen.
John Samson, a 12-year-old boy from Malawi and Junior Prize winner of this year's RCS Essay Competition, had the honour of presenting The Queen with the tablet computer of JTC entries. See John's winning JTC entry here.
RCS Chairman Peter Kellner escorted The Queen on the tour of the building, and introduced her to groups of schoolchildren and JTC contributors who helped make the JTC the world's largest history project.
The Diamond (re)Collection –" the top 60 JTC entries –" uploaded to the tablet will now move to the Royal Collection, Windsor. The JTC will be the first artefact on a tablet computer in the Collection.
More than 37,000 people from 66 countries have contributed memories to the project, accounting for over 22,000 days of Commonwealth history!
You can see the top 60 entries, and view the rest of the JTC archive at www.jubileetimecapsule.org.
CPA to host 5th Commonwealth Youth Parliament
Tuesday 20 November 2012
The CPA UK and CPA International will host the 5th Commonwealth Youth Parliament (CYP) from December 5-7 in Westminster, exploring principles of governance.
CYP will be attended by 60 young people aged 18-29, who will represent legislatures from across the Commonwealth. The programme will include plenary addresses, model parliamentary business sessions and focused workshops, culminating in a final debate on access to education.
CPA UK will also produce a toolkit for running future Commonwealth Youth Parliaments to assist other CPA branches who wish to host future programmes. For more information or to participate in parts of the programme, please contact Victoria Bower or Claire Bowman at email@example.com or visit www.parliament.uk/cpauk.
Update: Arms Trade Treaty and the Commonwealth
Tuesday 4th September 2012
In May 2012, the Royal Commonwealth Society hosted a Roundtable on 'The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and the Commonwealth' to discuss the role of Commonwealth member states at the Diplomatic Conference on the ATT in July, and their capacity to ensure agreement on a robust and comprehensive Treaty.
After four long weeks of intense negotiations, however, a Treaty was not adopted at the end of the UN Diplomatic Conference in New York. Despite overwhelming support from the majority of countries for a draft Treaty tabled by the President, the US blocked agreement, saying it needed 'more time to consider the text'.
Significantly, on the final day of the Conference, 90 States released a Joint Statement endorsing the draft Treaty, and calling for the Treaty to be agreed at the UN General Assembly later this year; more than a third of the signatories were Commonwealth countries.
The UNGA in October provides Commonwealth member states with another opportunity to pledge their support to the Arms Trade Treaty; an opportunity many Commonwealth leaders and civil society actors hope is not squandered.
Diaspora Dialogues: Connecting Sri Lanka with the UK
Tuesday 31st July 2012
The Royal Commonwealth Society has been working with International Alert on a Diaspora Dialogues initiative aimed at peacebuilding in post-war Sri Lanka.
In March a delegation of young British Sri Lankan professionals visited diverse areas of Sri Lanka as part of this project. Nilmini Herath was one of these pioneering individuals. Here she speaks about her experiences in Sri Lanka, the insights she gained into peacebuilding ideas, and the rare opportunity to present these thoughts to UK Parliament:
"–¦we had been on an incredible journey together and were about to host our first public event to talk about the experience and our ideas for taking things forward."
To read the full article click here.
The Arms Trade Treaty and the Commonwealth
Wednesday 25 July 2012
Today the RCS released The Arms Trade Treaty and the Commonwealth, a report on a roundtable discussion held in May in partnership with the Control Arms Coalition UK.
The event, attended by representatives from Commonwealth High Commissions, Commonwealth civil society organisations, members of the Control Arms Coalition UK and Minister for International Development Alan Duncan MP, explored the potential influence that Commonwealth member states could have at the UN Diplomatic Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in July 2012 to ensure the adoption of a robust and comprehensive Treaty.
RCS AGM - 25th June 2012
Thursday 7 June 2012
The RCS AGM will take place in the Mandela Room at 6pm on 25 June 2012. This year's AGM will need to re-elect the Deputy Chairmen and elect three members of Council. There have been five nominations for Council so an election will be held amongst all members attending the AGM. See below for this year's AGM papers (an annotated agenda will be available shortly). Hard copies of all will be available at the AGM.
If you would like to attend the AGM please email firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know.
Commonwealth Big Jubilee Lunches
Monday 28 May 2012
The Royal Commonwealth Society has been working with the Big Lunch to help promote Big Jubilee Lunches across the Commonwealth.
The Big Lunch is a gathering that aims to bring together people in a neighbourhood around a community lunch. In the UK, Big Lunches have become a significant event with millions of people taking part last year. This year, the event will be held on Sunday 3rd June to coincide with Her Majesty's official Diamond Jubilee celebrations in the UK and the RCS has been working to help bring this community to life across the Commonwealth.
All Big Lunchers have been invited to record their memories of the day in the RCS's digital Diamond Jubilee project, the Jubilee Time Capsule, to create a Big Lunch Collection and a lasting legacy of the day.
HRH Prince Harry enters the Jubilee Time Capsule
Tuesday 15 May 2012
Prince Harry has contributed three special memories to the Jubilee Time Capsule, an ambitious digital project to mark the Diamond Jubilee.
Prince Harry's involvement comes as a number of celebrity entries were revealed, including from Fearne Cotton and Jennie Bond, at a launch yesterday to announce National Express'support for the project.
The UK's largest coach operator also revealed a special JTC coach which features a selection of the most moving moments submitted to the project from across the UK. It will travel between London and Birmingham encouraging people to submit their memories from Her Majesty The Queen's reign.
National Express jump aboard as official partners on the RCS' Jubilee Time Capsule
Monday 14 May 2012
Today, the Royal Commonwealth Society is pleased to announce that the National Express Group has become an official partner of the Jubilee Time Capsule project.
At an official launch of the partnership at the RCS headquarters in London, the UK's largest coach operator will reveal a special JTC coach which features a selection of the most moving moments submitted to the project from across the UK. It will travel between London and Birmingham encouraging people to submit their memories from Her Majesty The Queen's reign.
Dean Finch, Group Chief Executive of National Express, said:
"This amazing project, which forms an important part of Her Majesty The Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, offers everyone the chance to share their own moving moments from the past 60 years. With over 60,000 of these personal memories already being offered, it is creating a unique and personal online record of words, photographs and film that is proving to be extremely popular. "
As well as using our partnership to help promote travel to some of the many Jubilee celebrations that are taking place around the UK this Summer we will also be encouraging customers to offer their own personal memories to this online time capsule too."
Visit www.nationalexpress.com/jubilee to learn more about their Jubilee programme.
Diaspora dialogues: Sharing experiences from Sri Lanka
Monday 30 April 2012
In early March 2012, seven British Sri Lankans and two British MPs met communities in Puttalam, Anuradhapura, Vavuniya, Killinochchi and Trincomalee in Sri Lanka to improve the understanding of British-Sri Lankan communities in the UK of the rapidly changing circumstances in Sri Lanka following the end of the war. They also aimed to contribute to the public debate taking place among parliamentarians in Sri Lanka and the UK on the subject; and forge links between young British-Sri Lankans, British and Sri Lankan parliamentarians and civil society groups engaged in conflict-sensitive development and reconciliation in Sri Lanka. After the week-long visit, soon after arriving back in London, the delegates spent an equally intense period reflecting on their own personal journey in Sri Lanka, and sharing reflections and ideas with their friends and family.
This visit was part of International Alert and Royal Commonwealth Society's "Diaspora Dialogues" initiative, sponsored by the British High Commission in Sri Lanka.
On Tuesday 27th March 2012 a meeting was organised with the delegates' families who were eagerly awaiting to hear what their sons, daughters, cousins and friends had to say, standing side by side with other delegates they had heard so much about since arriving back in the UK but were yet to meet. Opening up the floor, Danny Sriskandarajah –" Director of the Royal Commonwealth Society and Dan Smith –" Secretary General of International Alert spoke about the history of the project, the importance of these dialogues for the Commonwealth and for post-war peacebuilding and reconciliation. This was followed by a short video, put together by the delegates, giving an overall snapshot of the visit in Sri Lanka –" the people they met, the communities they spoke to and their personal reflections.
They went on to speak about the different aspects of their field visit in more detail, which gave them the opportunity to reflect on complex issues. One such issue was of Sri Lanka's IDPs - from the long-term Muslim IDPs to the more recent war-affected IDPs. They discussed the complexities and challenges of resettlement and the impact this has on relations with host communities.
During their visit, the delegates met a cross section of youth from Vavuniya and surrounding areas, and learnt about the National Youth Policy, the challenge of youth aspirations and the realities of employment in a country in the midst of post-war recovery. Having also visited an ex-combatant rehabilitation centre and the International Organisation for Migration, delegates spoke of their experience in trying to build trust in a short period of time in order to establish the grounds for dialogue about the past, the present and the future. Reflecting on their experience talking to the UK-based HALO Trust, the delegates learnt about the impressive achievement made by the multiple demining agencies who have collaboratively and complementarily worked to demine large and dense areas of contamination.
Presentations about the role of the business community touched upon the importance of supporting sustainable local economies while encouraging conflict-sensitive Foreign Direct Investment. Finally, there were numerous meetings with government representatives and opposition parties which helped highlight the country's domestic and international priorities, and importantly, the potential roles the diaspora can play in supporting recovery and reconciliation.
One major highlight was the delegates' reflections on Dr. Panagamuwa's mobile prosthetics clinic. Dr Panagamuwa is a recently retired British Sri Lankan medical professional who decided to set up an artificial limb-fitting service for injured amputees in the Vanni district, North of the Island. With his background as a consultant in rehabilitation medicine in the UK, he used his enthusiasm, innovation, skills and knowledge to develop a service which has fitted over 2000 limbs in the past three years. This activity illustrated just one of the many ways in which the diaspora can directly support Sri Lanka's recovery, reconciliation and development at the community level.
What the audience took away was hope, enthusiasm and a renewed respect for their already high achieving sons and daughters. Reconciliation is a long-term process, which involves bringing together the skills, persistence and innovation of people who have multiple backgrounds and differing opinions, but who are prepared to work together toward a common objective.
The next steps for the group will be to take this experience forward, despite the many challenges that are still remaining in post-war Sri Lanka and within the Sri Lankan Diaspora and to explore ways to use their individual skills and perspectives to transform these challenges into opportunities for development, recovery and rehabilitation, with the overarching objective of reconciling the current and next generation of Sri Lankans within the diaspora and Sri Lanka.
Young Sri Lankan Diaspora and UK Parliamentarians visit Sri Lanka
Tuesday 3 April 2012
The delegation, made up of young British Sri Lankan professionals from the United Kingdom, visited Sri Lanka from the 4th-10th March 2012. The delegation met with youth groups, conflict-affected communities and organisations working to support these communities from across the country. Meetings were also held with the Minister for External Affairs, Hon. GL Peiris, the Minister for Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare, Hon. Dilan Perera, and Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP, President's Advisor on Reconciliation, as well as with representatives from the UNP, TNA and JVP.
The young professionals' delegation was sponsored by the Royal Commonwealth Society, an international education charity based in London, as part of the Society's Commonwealth Diaspora Dialogues programme. Their programme in Sri Lanka was facilitated by the One Text Initiative and International Alert Sri Lanka. Two UK Parliamentarians from the Westminster and Scottish parliament also accompanied the delegation on this exposure visit themed 'Youth, Reconciliation and Development'. The focus of this programme is on the role of young diaspora, of multiple ethnicities and professional backgrounds in Sri Lanka's recovery, reconciliation and development process.