With only ONE week left to International Youth Day CYC managed to hear from a young man from Sri Lanka in his native tongue and thanks to lovely Krystle Reid, member of the Membership Committee, we have translated his story to English to share it across the Commonwealth!
Dilan Harshanath is the founder of Neo Education and Training organization that spearheads its activities with the objective of “working Towards Sustainability with Quality Education and Training.” Over the last few years Dilan and many other young change makers within and beyond his organization have been able to carry out the following initiatives to improve community level engagement towards poverty eradication through sustainable and environment-friendly activities. One of the most impactful and sustainable initiatives has been the project to help a number of families below the poverty line to engage in organic farming. The project has been carried out in Ambalangoda, Gonapeenuwala and surrounding areas in the Southern Province in Sri Lanka.
A remarkable aspect of this project has been the direct involvement of hearing impaired (deaf) persons / families in the area. Most of the beneficiaries of this project are hearing impaired people according to Dilan. The organic farmers have been trained and provided with the initial support with plants and other resources by Dilan and other altruistic young people in the area. Yet another initiative upon which Dilan has embarked in regards to poverty alleviation is the project to empower the communities by taking the initiative to build and develop roads for the benefit of inhabitants in areas like Hathpawala which is a remote village in the southern province of Sri Lanka. He has appropriated the basic funding through a grant provided by the government for youth organizations. The rest of the funding has been accumulated through the contribution of the members of the same community that has benefited by the said road construction.
Building the said road makes the Hathpawala village more accessible to the other more developed and industrialized city areas and thereby better access to facilities, easier means of transporting the crops to the cities and various other means of uplifting the living conditions will be made possible. Dilan does not overlook yet another significant populace which can actively contribute to the development of the area. The elderly persons who could still empower their communities regardless of their age, also have been given the opportunity to partake in income generation activities which are beneficial to the inhabitants of the said area. As the impetus for another one of his initiatives, Dilan observes that the excessive usage of drugs and alcohol drains out the economies of the families in grassroots particularly in the southern province and therefor he has tackled the said issue by conducting programs to rehabilitate the addicts of drugs and alcohol who could be steered towards the right direction and urge them to serve their community in a more productive manner. This initiative also is centered in Hathpavala village which is hardly approached by other organizations which are committed to invoke awareness on the prevention of excessive usage of drugs and alcohol.
Dilan is passionate about these two particular SDGs because he perceives them as two of the key pillars which must be addressed in order to bring about progress to the community level in regards to the development of third world countries like ours.
The impact of his initiatives have helped by and large to around 300 -500 families within the southern province in divers ways. On the one hand, the initiative of organic farming has been improving the livelihood of over 200 families of hearing impaired people who have been socially marginalized and on the other, the programs to prevent the addiction to drugs and alcohol has been instrumental in transforming the lives of many other individuals into heads of progressive households which are rising above the poverty line gradually.
Dilan specifically mentions his self-satisfaction and contentment as the driving force behind all his altruistic endeavors and therefore he urges the other youngsters with potential and energy to step forward to help achieve the SDGs by initiating projects in their respective community levels like he does.