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A little bit of context

For ten years Bridging Lanka has been reaching out to young people in Mannar, northern Sri Lanka. During this time we have witnessed the downward spiral of the lives of many youngsters both male and female. Following the civil war the rapid uptake of the ills of the west without sufficient awareness of their dangers have trapped many young people in despair.

What’s the Problem?

We were discovering that ‘selfie-obsessed’ young people masked a darker reality fuelled by high youth unemployment, lack of career pathways and challenging mental health issues. These issues affected males and females differently. The males were opting for an easy escape from reality into harmful habits – alcoholism, drugs, porn and reckless driving often causing death.

The females were experiencing different but related difficulties – online harassment, violence within romantic liaisons, parental restrictions on career advancement and actualisation – resulting in both males and females experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts.

To help stop young people’s moral demise and hopelessness we plan to build a gym from which physical and mental health programs together with new career development opportunities and intensive nurturing can be conducted.

Here’s what we’re doing about it

We’ve got the land, we’ve done the research, we’re developing the building plans and programs to be run from the fitness centre. Soon we would like to start building the gym at a village with a challenging name – Thailankudiyiruppu. This is our development plan:

  1. Construction of a Gym for physical resilience for both females and males and from which multiple programs will be run;
  2. New Career Options through training young men in physical fitness and young women as yoga and dance instructors;
  3. Job Club to support young men and women (especially women) with career direction, job ready skills and finding employment;
  4. ‘Inner Gym Workout’ workshop series with 9 themes: staying physically active, limiting social media, sleeping well, eating nutritious food, limiting alcohol and drug intake, dealing with emotions like jealousy, anger and revenge, connecting with others, getting into life;
  5. Intensive Nurturing: training aspiring young male and female leaders as peer counsellors in areas of anger management, resisting addictions, dealing with ‘love failure’, self-harm and suicide.
Draft Building Designs
Training of Young Females in Yoga and Yoga Instruction
Training of Young Males in Fitness Training

This is a medium term plan to make a positive impact in the lives of vulnerable young people – starting with the construction of a gym and fitness centre!

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