Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sunila Abeysekera on One Billion Rising

Sri Lanka needs to rise. The injustice is too deeply set– it’s time we snapped out of the apathy and made some noise.

Investigations of the Wijerama gang rape victim is against the victim. Yes, you read that right. It was reported that the police suspect she’s a sex-worker and so her claim of being raped has got to be false. Yes, that’s the logic of those who have been appointed to protect us. Where’s the justice for women? Double that with ineffective laws to protect women, and you’d see that women in Sri Lanka are not safe.

Sunila Abeysekera spoke to Beyond Borders on why Sri Lanka should join One Billion Rising.

Video- filmed and edited by Megara Tegal in Nepal. 

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Guest Post- GBV: Society is both the perpetrator and victim

It’s admirable to know that there is at least a certain section of society concerned about the mental and physical violence that women and men have to undergo, but I believe that activism which encourages victims to voice their sufferings should not just stop there.

Voicing to the world about the brutality one undergoes or underwent is the first step to empowerment and emancipation. However, to see the end of gender based violence, victims should not be empowered to shed light about the violence they endure  but also offered a strong safety net that allows them look beyond their past and begin a new life, free from violence.  This safety net and support system is what will encourage other victims to shed light about their situation.

Victims should not be subjected to victimization yet again by an unforgiving society. Stigma will only kill the victims’ spirit to move on, and build a safe life away from violence, that dogged their past. I personally believe that the foundation of gender based violence begins with attitudes. A man’s inherent superiority complex and a woman’s strong feelings self unworthiness, leads one gender to believe that it has unconditional power to oppress the other and the other accepts this repression as a norm.

This superiority complex among men, which is subtly drilled in since childhood becomes a fire breathing monster when one becomes an adult, thus giving them the notion that abusing a woman is a natural right that has been bestowed to them. Most women on the other hand, have been made to believe by archaic societal norms that men are the superior beings; therefore they create this notion in their subconscious mind that it is acceptable to be beaten, harassed or abused.

Sadly, most married women, have become silent victims who suffer the most, because of a ‘so called’ legal bond that prevents them speaking against the violation of their rights. I  believe that gender based violence will end that day parents treat their sons and daughters equally, thereby setting an example that women and men are of equal status. Whether you a man or woman, you should not tolerate any kind of mental or physical abuse hurled at you by anyone. Violence is unacceptable- tolerating it will only validate it, further. Everyone deserves better.

Guest post by Shabnam Farook. She is a food columnist whose passions include good cheesecake, sushi and music by John Mayer.

Beyond Borders Blog Back in Business

… with a Bang? No, that’s one too many B words.

Anyway, this is to announce that the official blog of Beyond Borders Sri Lanka, after a hiatus of around six months, is finally back online. And we hope to keep this thing rolling, with regular posts on what BB is up to and will be up to in the coming months.

Just to give you an idea of what’s been going on, BB was recently involved in a project called LEARN, a joint initiative with the Warehouse Project, to teach English to underprivileged children in and around Colombo. Books and other reading-material were collected from members and their acquaintances and distributed among these (very deserving) kids. Then, there were the Forum Theatre productions which, we’re sure, you’re already aware of, all of which went smoothly and far exceeded our expectations. Our latest venture into activism is an ongoing joint-campaign against the harassment of women, carried out together with ReachOut, a youth-led initiative that promotes women’s rights – among other things – among young people from all walks of life. More on that, later…

That’s all for now, folks. We’ll keep you guys posted on what’s more to come. Do keep reading.

Oh, and comment! Your feedback’s always appreciated. 🙂

Apeksha – On Gender Based Violence

Apeksha is a play by Dramatic Action. It’s based on gender based violence and sponsored by Beyond Borders. It is going on the boards at the British School Auditorium on the 21st of December. All proceeds will go to a good cause. Come.

Social Cancer

Whenever we Sri Lankans look around, at a newspaper or the evening news, we see the farce that is our politics. It’s something that people like to chat about as well; “this minister did this”, “that minister was involved” and so on. So it is very easy to point fingers at our governing officials, but then again is it really their fault only?

In a democratic country is it not the people who elects a government into power? Is it not we who continue to tolerate their antiques and not do anything about it when we should? So what then is the point of us living in a democracy, a system where we have the rights to make changes for the betterment of our society? A democracy where everyone is not actively engaged, is no democracy at all and the very essence of democracy which is freedom, is lost.

So lets just trace it backwards starting from the country’s current political situation which is just a chum bucket full of corruption, flawed policies, nepotism, injustice, bloodshed and a lot more. What has led to this is the very actions of the individuals whom the majority has trusted to govern the country and fulfill the better interests of it’s people. Srilanka’s political atmosphere for the past few decades has been clouded with shady politics and maniacal individuals, but the majority of the people have done nothing to stop them, leaving the few who do try to be singled out and swiftly cut down.

So then comes the question as to how twenty million people can just watch a mere two thousand or so going about raping the country and their futures. And with that we take a step further back as to how they got into power in the first place.

Consider the naive voting choices due to the lack of education starting at one generation. This lack of education of course is caused by general apathy and unpatriotic thinking that leads to the wrong people being elected into the wrong places.  This apathy at the root of it all is like a cancer, originating at a cellular level and aggravating till the entire organism dies.

In the same way, this apathy started with maybe a certain segment of one generation and has slowly spread to subsequent generations thereby destroying the very foundations of governance and threatening the future. Repercussions of this extend from poverty to underdevelopment to the loss of a great many lives. Being the social cancer it is, apathy will just continue spreading across the generations, leading to more adverse effects on the country and this will just keep on getting worse till there is not a vestige of freedom left. When will people realize what’s happening and fight back?

The youth of this generation should step up and make right the mistakes of previous generations. It’s a now or never situation, time to counter apathy or watch and let it capitulate our beautiful country.

Lasantha David

Lasantha is a core group member of Beyond Borders.  His opinions are his own.

Going, Going, Green!

The Project Act launch event was held on October 24th, coinciding with the International Day of Climate Action. It consisted of a clean-up of Wellawatte beach, and a demonstration geared towards spreading the Act message ‘Go Green Now’ as well as showing Sri Lanka’s support towards effective policy changes on climate change in Copenhagen, December 2009.

The event was a tremendous success, with over 350 participants representing Interact, Roteract, HSBC, Practical Action and more. The beach was cleaned by the collection crews and the collected waste was separated in to degradeable and non-degradeable waste which was handed over to the CMC for disposal.

The 350 event kicked off with a round of ice breakers, introductions to Beyond Borders, Project Act and 350, the signing of the pledge “I pledge to ACT wherever, whenever and do whatever to help Sri Lanka go green and the ‘adopt a tree’ segment. Special guests at the event included Hon. Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Champika Ranawaka, the Director of British Council Gill Westaway, the Director of Press and Cultural Affairs, Embassy of the United States Jeff Anderson, Omar Kamil, Special Commssioner CMC, Justice CG Weeramanthri, Roshan Gunawardena from the CEA and Anjali Watson from the Environment Programme CHA.

After the opening activities, the demonstrators proceed to Wellawatte on Galle Road, with their placards and banners, which drew substantial attention to our cause.  The event culminated in the formation of a human 350 on the beach, a photograph of which was sent into 350.org to show support towards their global campaign.

Thank you everyone who came out to be a part of this event and show your support for positive environmental change in Sri Lanka, and hopefully, Copenhagen. Special thanks to the crew from HSBC, and all the Interactors and Roteractors who made up the bulk of our cleaning crew: you guys did an impressive job! Thank you to our invitees for your support and Naren and Anjali from the Environment Programme at CHA for your help in planning the event and all the technical support. Thank you to the work crews and the CMC team for all their help. And finally a big thank you to the Project Act committee for putting together this event on such short notice and making it such a success.

See here for photographs from the event, here for the media coverage and hereto follow the Project Act blog.

Dayan Jayatilleka

Recently, we at Beyond Borders had a candid chat with Dr Dayan Jayatilleka. He almost overwhelmed us with his intellect but we managed to hang on for what turned out to be a great ride through his deeply personal experiences and idealogical roots, political general philosophy, Sri Lankan post independence political conflict and history and a lot of other things.

A few of us who were present wrote  our take on  it here.

Copenhagen or Bust – What Can Sri Lanka do?

In just 11 weeks, the world will convene in Copenhagen, under the auspices of the United Nations, to forge a new international agreement on climate change. It is a historic moment: the ultimate test of global cooperation. Yet the negotiations are proceeding so slowly that a deal is in grave danger.

If we miss this opportunity, there will be no second chance sometime in the future, no later way to undo the catastrophic damage to the environment we will cause. So when world leaders gather this week, first at the United Nations in New York and then at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, it is essential that we move toward resolving the issues that still divide our nations. As scientists spell out the mounting evidence both of the climate change already occurring and of the threat it poses in the future, we cannot allow the negotiations to run out of time simply for lack of attention. Failure would be unforgivable. (more..)

That is, according to Gordon Brown. But we agree with him. The world has dallied long enough in getting its act together to combat climate change. And even if Al Gore’s electricity bill is enough to power several small villages in sub-Saharan Africa for more than 2 weeks (there are only rumors to show that this is true by the way), we cannot ignore the core message of An Inconvenient Truth.

Gordon Brown stresses on the economic benefits for countries who ‘change with the climate’;  adopting greener energy and cleaning up their carbon footprint etc. But what he doesn’t speak of here is the other side of the coin, the somewhat uglier side; the side the consists of entrenched trade competition, all sorts of climate-unfriendly vested interests and a deep reluctance to forgo short term comforts for longer term gains.

So here is where the acitivists come in to change attitudes. 350.org is a global movement that is bent on generating awareness and action to promote more earth friendly (and ultimately more people friendly) outcomes at Copenhagen. And like all good activists, Beyond Borders will also be in the thick of it. Thats right, we are for the first time going proactively green. Naturally, we and all our project associates are very excited.

More information will follow soon. A massive launch event on the 24th will be followed by our own campaign for the environment in Sri Lanka. Anyone can get involved and provide input (we are very open source like that). Watch this space for more details!

Now in the Pipeline – Some quick updates

To Spark A Revolution

The long process of looking for people over, we have almost finalized the list of new Core Group Mmembers. To all who applied and attended the interviews; we’ll be in touch with you shortly.

And if you couldn’t get in, don’t worry, you can still be part of the Beyond Borders experience and work with us towards our causes in a voluntary capacity.

Volunteer with BB

Volunteering will give you more time to get more hands on experience in BB without too much vested accountability. A great way to help us and you decide if you are ready to join the Core Group at a later date if you should so wish. And also a great way for you to get involved with our projects, should any appeal to you in particular.

Anyone can volunteer, Just e-mail us at info@beyondborders with your deets and we’ll get in touch.

New Projects

We’ve got an environment project coming along soon (our first full on environment venture in a long time) so we’re all pretty excited. Watch this space for more.

Jerk? will be staged again to an audience of students and teachers and the cast is hitting practice mode. We are looking forward to a different set of audience responses this time around, hopefully we’ll get them. Also look out for a review of Jerk? on the next issue of Chokolaate.

On the topic of new projects, if you’ve got an interesting idea but have no platform to launch it from, we can step in and help you see it through. But the project needs to be in line with our basic vision and mission; check our ‘about’ section for more on what we do. If you think we sync, let us know!

YATV takes to the air

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Hilmy Ahamed, CEO of YATV speaks about the new venture at the event held to celebrate YATV hitting the airwaves, or rather, cabled and the internet.

Young Asia Television, or YATV launched it new venture YA Sri Lanka last week with a view to provide interactive programming on a wide range of programming from Entertainment to Education and Business.

YATV has been in the forefront of value-based programming in the Asian region and has been a pioneer in changing the look and feel of the television screen, the television experience, in Sri Lanka and many other countries in the region. YATV introduced younger programme producers, a wider range of perspectives, new programme formats and used innovative computer graphics and animation, adopting cost-effective production processes through affordable technology. YATV’s programming provided the space for a diverse group of people – and not just young people – to express their views.

YATV relies strongly on its youthful human resources who are equal to any in the global Television industry. Their out-put has been of superior technical and content quality.

With the launch of YA Sri Lanka, YATV takes another significant step in the progress of television in the Sri Lanka by partnering with SLT’s PEOTV to bring interactive television programming for education information and development.

In addition to catering to urban youth audiences, YA Sri Lanka is committed to reaching out to the audiences in rural areas.

YA Sri Lanka hopes to entertain, but more importantly, facilitate wide-ranging discourse among people -exchanging information, bringing awareness, enabling understanding.

The value of media, especially television, as a tool for learning has been proven time and again. Its capacity to inform, educate and encourage behavior change has made it an indispensable tool of most social campaigns. With respect to youth audiences, research has shown that TV has the ability to create powerful touchstones, enabling young people to share experiences with others. So it seems a logical step for YA SRI LANKA to harness the potential of this powerful and influential medium.

YA Sri Lanka’s partnership with PEOTV will be an opportunity to provide an alternative to the mainstream, An opportunity to reinvent the usefulness of the medium of television. An opportunity to share ideas and knowledge, gain skills and capacities, build communities and bridges.

Editor’s Note: YATV has been a one of the strong pillars that has helped Beyond Borders grow, and we pride ourselves in the long and warm relationship that we share, running beyond a mere a work relationship into sphere of friendships. Beyond Borders extends our hearfelt congratulations to YATV, and wishes them the best for the future. And we would obviously look forward to YATV, and now YA Sri Lanka helping us more.

To see a the instances in which Beyond Borders, or BBites were on YATV, click here. You can see the YATV YouTube channel here, and YATV can be found here on their official website.