Youth in Sri Lanka Speak Out for Change

War Child supports youth in Sri Lanka - living with the legacy of the country’s civil war - to make their voices heard on the issues that affect their lives. Our regional network of Youth Councils serves to empower young people to speak out - and bring about real change in their communities.
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Sri Lankan youth advise War Child and our partners to make sure our work meets their needs

Photo: War Child

Effects of Sri Lanka's civil war

Sri Lanka’s long civil war finally came to an end in 2009 - but children and young people continue to experience its effects today. Many have lost their confidence, their trust in others and any belief in a better future. And poverty has seen increasing numbers of children forced to grow up without parents or caregivers.

War Child Youth Councils

Youth in Sri Lanka face a number of pressing issues - which is why War Child has come together with our partner organisation ESCO to set up a network of Youth Councils. The network serves as an advisory body where young people in the east of the country can advise War Child and its partners on the important issues in their lives - and ensure our work is relevant to their needs.

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Children in Sri Lanka advocating for their rights and meanwhile advising War Child and our partners

Photo: War Child

Sri Lanka girl rights War Child

Sri Lankan girl speaks out about the issues she's still facing and how to address them

Photo: War Child

Each Youth Council is made up of between ten and fifteen young people between the ages of thirteen and eighteen. The first council was formed in October 2017 and there are currently 14 active councils around the Batticaloa district in the east of Sri Lanka.

Each council functions as a fully democratic structure, with young people serving in roles such as president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer. This structure empowers the youth taking part to develop leadership skills - and enjoy improved educational opportunities.

“War Child also helped us to form a Children’s Parliament. I had a leadership role as the Speaker. I was able to provide leadership to around 15,000 children."
War Child Youth Council speaker Thadshayani (21) from Sri Lanka

Developing new skills - and friendships

The members of the youth council are graduates from the 57 children’s clubs War Child operates across Sri Lanka - young people like Thadshayani (21). She explains how the children’s clubs and youth councils bring about real change in the lives of young people in Sri Lanka.

“I first joined the children’s club in 2007 at Kannakipuram. I am very proud to say that I passed the scholarship exam [for further education] with very good marks. For that I will always be very grateful for the help of the children’s club library. The day that I received my scholarship exam results was a special unforgettable day in my life. And it was the start of my involvement with the ESCO youth council.”

Sri Lanka children community

War Child Youth Council in Sri Lanka

Photo: War Child

Children's Parliament

“War Child also helped us to form a Children’s Parliament. I had a leadership role as the Speaker. I was able to provide leadership to around 15,000 children. Through the parliament we were able to highlight five key issues that affect the lives of youth - early marriage, school dropout, drug abuse, sexual abuse and absent parents.”

Thadshayani’s participation in the Youth Council finally saw her travel to the UK to attend the Commonwealth Youth Forum as an official delegate for the children and young people of Sri Lanka. The event saw her share her community’s concerns with delegates and policymakers from around the world - ensuring her voice was truly heard.

Our work in Sri Lanka

  • Sri Lanka children community

    Sri Lanka

    Strengthening child protection systems and supporting youth to build an improved future for their country

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    3 projects


    Children affected by conflict


    Total Participants