Two hundred and eighty Muslim and Tamil children from three villages in Trincomalee participated in LEADS’ One Team One Dream program on Saturday, September 3.
5 September 2016
The sun bore down on us at Nawatcholai Grounds at 3:00 pm. Parents and volunteers took cover from the sun under tents. But the 280 children participants in One Team One Dream seemed immune to the sun and heat. They shouted and cheered as their teammates tossed a ball over their heads into a teammate’s waiting arms. The divisions between the houses were marked by colorful, glittery badges; red, yellow, green and blue. Other divisions of Tamil and Muslim and village identity faded away in the hot sun. “These children have never had an opportunity to play together,” commented the programme’s coordinator, Shalomi Jacob. “Their schools don’t organize events like this.”
One Team One Dream’s participants had been eagerly anticipating this event for weeks. One Team One Dream was a rare day for fun in the midst of challenging lives. The children at the event represented three of Trincomalee’s villages: Nawatcholai, Adampodai, and Ganthinagar. Many of these young children had to relocate during Sri Lanka’s civil war, and some lost parents. For this one day, sadness of the past was wiped away and replaced with excitement, camaraderie, and laughter.
The day began with children arriving at the grounds, on buses provided by LEADS or on bicycles or walking with family members. After registering the children, they were divided into four houses; houses unified by color and not by village, religion, or heritage. An opening ceremony officially began the day’s festivities and honoured those who helped make it possible. Then the games began. In the first event, children held hands in a circle and passed a hoop around the circle without releasing their hands. There was much laughter and cheering as children wriggled and squirmed their way through the hoop and passed it on to the next person. The next three hours were full of other activities as big and small children ran, jumped, and danced their way to stronger bonds of friendship and unity. Lunch was provided by LEADS and children sat next to their new friends in their colorful houses. After lunch, the YFC volunteers began the games again. Even in the heat of the day, the children showed no signs of fatigue. Instead, their excitement carried them through two more hours of activities.
Finally, the games were finished and it was time to announce the winning house. The announcer teased the children with his long pauses before announcing 4th and 3rd place – green and yellow. When it was time to announce the winning house, the excitement was palpable. “The winner is….blue!” Children from the other three houses applauded politely, but members of the blue house were ecstatic, on their feet with fists in the air as a sign of victory and satisfaction. As the house captain walked to the front to claim their brightly-wrapped prize, nothing could dampen the smile on his face. However, the gifts didn’t end there. To emphasize that there are no winners or losers in the journey towards reconciliation, each child was given a gift wrapped in tissue. Inside was an exercise book and a bag that read “Unity Begins with Me.” A final image from the day was a lone boy walking away in the setting sun, wearing his new bag on his back. “Unity Begins With Me.” The two hundred and eighty children who learned that lesson at One Team One Dream will now spread this hope of reconciliation with their communities.
Special thanks to everyone who supported this event, especially our volunteers from St. John Ambulance and Youth for Christ, and our partners at GOD TV, Hatton National Bank Trincomalee Branch, Happy Hen, and Colombo Gospel Tabernacle.
A Program for Unity and Solidarity in Trincomalee
29 August 2016
One Team One Dream is a one day programme that seeks to bring reconciliation and unity through fun and games among Tamil and Muslim communities in Trincomalee.
"All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them" said Walt Disney - pioneer of the American animation industry.
It was the dream within our team at LEADS to gather the children from 3 of the most remote villages in Trincomalee district, uniting the Tamil and Muslim communities through a program of fun and games. Three hundred children are supposed to participate in this day long sporting event and our teams are planning exciting and challenging games, to build social cohesion and team spirit among children. The dream of One Team One Dream materialized with support from our sponsors and a dedicated team of volunteers and will take place on the Saturday, 3 September at Nawatcholai grounds, Trincomalee.
The children come from Ganthinagar, Adampodai and Nawatcholai three rural villages found in Trincomalee. These villages in the North-East are been currently served under the Child-Centered Development project that aims at bringing holistic development to under-privileged families who have been IDPs due to the civil war and/ or were affected by the Tsunami in 2004. The project has established several Child Clubs in the villages to promote child-centered activities and a total of 248 children were selected to be specially coached as Change Agents serving their communities.
The One Team One Dream program is expected to increase children’s participation in Child Clubs activities says Shalomi Jacob the team leader for the event. The event reminds both children and parents that there is strength in unity and empower them to continue building reconciliation in Trincomalee.
For more details on the event see our Facebook page.