Navajeevan Anantharaj has taken a noble initiative towards contributing for the betterment of Sri Lanka war survivors living for the past seven years with painful memories.
The following are details about the venture undertaken by the Toronto based media professional Navajeevan Anantharaj to benefit the traumatized people living through the brutal conflict that ended in 2009:
‘Puthiya Velicham’ (New Light)
Greetings to my friends. I wish to share some matters here in order to answer the many questions I have received in private after Puthiya Velicham (New Light) finished its first project and to create an awareness about ‘Puthiya Velicham’.
Our community’s sad state post the disastrous events of 2009 has brought about a kind of depression within. But, the thought that each one of us should take this as a challenge and strive to change this situation and move forward is one that has kept on occurring to me. I have in this regard continuously visited Sri Lanka in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015. There, I conducted workshops on school learning development, the promotion of small enterprises, and the international marketing of local products.
Firstly, on that basis I thought of meeting in person our people who were affected by the war especially the widows and to assist them by holding workshops and activities that are geared at increasing their faith and courage.
As a first step in this matter Prof. Dr. Jayanthasri Balakrishnan who is well versed in providing psychological counselling and motivational support, and Prof. Dr. Balakrishnan from Tamil Nadu came forward to provide their time and labour free of charge.
Prof. Dr. Jayanthasri Balakrishnan is a Professor, has a Doctorate and for the last 35 years has been working at the Coimbatore University as an undergraduate, postgraduate, and Research Professor. She has obtained doctorates in both Tamil and English languages. Not only has she been involved in the Indian Universities’ curriculum drawing committees, and has a reputation as a great speaker, interpreter and a good writer, but she has also participated in and conducted mental health and social welfare programs for women. I kindly requested her to visit Sri Lanka as well when she was invited to an E-Kuruvi event in Toronto last year.
Next, to organize that journey human and economic resources became necessary. I had to travel there as well amidst my online marketing and newspaper job. Because this was a non-profit venture I did not wish to obtain funds from my advertisers. Further, even though some of my friends offered to help I was hesitant to obtain their assistance. Therefore, for this first attempt I decided to use my own human and economic resources as was possible.
We named this program which would provide a refreshed attitude, counselling, faith, courage, benefits, and mental development, as Puthiya Velicham (New Light). We classified people into three groups. Those who were fully affected by the war carrying all sorts of wounds especially women headed families, ‘present day’ people who are combatants themselves, those ‘from the past’ who have continuously suffered due to the war and come past it, and those who were born into the war affected nation i.e. the future pearls, our children who are the ‘future’ and their teachers. We went to the homeland to meet them all with the motto “the internal darkness should disperse, the internal consciousness shall open, a new path will arise, the Tamil Community will Progress”.
Within the two-week period of September 26th to October 6th approximately more than ten thousand participants took part in the workshops conducted in Jaffna, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Mannar and UpCountry.
I also organized a discussion amongst friends and social activists in Canada last week to put forward the experiences gained at these workshops and to inform them about the current situation of our people in the homeland.
I would like to thank all those who participated and shared their thoughts, opinions, and wishes at that discussion. Further in agreement with your request and desire that this be not just a project but a continuing activist movement Puthiya Velicham will continue with the support of each one of you who have the desire and commitment to brighten our community.
Details of Events – Puthiya Velicham (New Light)
Puthiya Velicham was held in Sri Lanka in Jaffna, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Mannar, and Upcountry with 18 events through the course of 20 days.
1) Valvai Mahalir Maha Vidyalayam (Teenager)
2) Hartley College (Teenager)
3) Methodist College (Teenager)
4 ) Puthukkudiyiruppu, Mullaituvu – women in the war affected area
6) Mullaitivu – War affected People
7) Kilinochchi – individuals affected by war
8) Inuvil Public Library
9 ) Nallur Madimandapam – International day of Non-violence
10) Veerasingam Hall – General Public
11) Self Career Development Initiatives Exhibition – Kittu Park, Jaffna
12) Yarl Hindu College (Teenager)
13) Kopay Teachers Training College
14) Mannar – individuals affected by war
15) Trincomalee Hindu College (Teenager)
16) Batticaloa – Individuals affected by war (Thevanayagam Hall)
17) Batticaloa – Girls from four different schools (Teenager only)
18) Hatton Teachers Training College
19) More than 5 private events
Puthiya Velicham arose as a response to the question what next that plagued many of our minds ever since the deadly end of the war.
Through the motivational workshops we were able to reach approximately ten thousand students and people. During this we only provided them with general counselling speeches. But we realized the need for more nuanced and continuous work in this area by classifying and taking in regard how much they have been affected and their wants and needs.
Especially, we were able to identify many problems such as internal violence, drug abuse, illicit sexual relations, child abuse, religious conversion, a depletion of capable teachers, suicides, disinterest in studies, desire to move abroad, going after relief aid, disorganized assistance, and badly planned aid ventures.
At the same time, we also beheld people developing skills in small enterprises, healthy women headed families, and thinkers who were visionaries. Important to note is that this included ex-combatants.
The knowledge and experience that this journey brought us is very important. We realized that we stand the risk of once again facing a great disaster if we stay blind or do not correctly identify their problems and plan needs and assistance accordingly. We meet you today to emphasize the need for healthy discussions relating to this and to bring forth the importance of conducting transparent programs in future.
As a first step we wish to put forward the following three points.
- Find out and classify the psychological problems in Social, Educational, and Economical issues.
- Identify ways and methods to solve these issues.
- Continue to do this in an organized manner.
We leave before you the question ‘what next?’ in the belief that you will provide us with a response.
Navajeevan Anantharaj, BSc.
Puthiya Velicham (416-272-8543)
Navajeevan Anantharaj functions as the CEO of “Tamils’ Business Connections Inc.”. He is also the publisher and editor of “Ekuruvi” which is a popular online and print edition monthly newspaper where the editorial content is devoted to Tamil community oriented activities.
Navajeevan obtained his degree with Honors in Business Management from the renowned Hull University in U.K. He began community activities in Sri Lanka since 2002 and making more dedicated contributions after 2010 in the aftermath of the war.
His work experience in Canada began with specializing in online marketing and business marketing specially with the Tamil community.
He has been playing a major role in the development of community organizations coupled with political campaigning as well, both in federal and provincial politics. He also actively participated in the Liberal Party campaign of the 2015 General Election and later published a book titled “A Prime Minister in the Making”.
Navajeevan has organized annual awards events on behalf of Ekuruvi for the past five years with nearly 1000 Business guests being present at these functions. He has also functioned as a Director of the Canadian Tamils’ Chamber of Commerce for 2 terms from 2010 to 2012.
Another project of Navajeevan is “Puthiya Velicham” – in the Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka where he has conducted motivational counselling to people who have been affected by the war and in developing promotion of small enterprises and international marketing of local products.