By Hiruni Herath
NGOs have somewhat of a bad reputation in Sri Lanka and Youth movements are regarded as irrelevant. But since we all hope for 2022 to be nothing but good, it’s time to turn those opinions around and become part of something greater than just you or me. There are also famous and well-known youth movements such as Rotaract and AIESEC that are guaranteed to have members flocking to them. So here is a list of 9 less well-known NGOs and Youth Movements that you can join in 2022 and make your year more proactive and fruitful.
*You can join most of the movements listed on their website.
1. Concrete Angels
Concrete Angels is a youth-led organization dedicated to reducing and creating awareness regarding child sexual abuse in Sri Lanka. They call themselves a group of girls between the ages of 18 and 22 but they are nothing less than change makers who have done a great deal towards creating awareness on child sexual abuse with dialogue, discussion and action. They have brought attention to an issue that has for the most part been ignored and swept under the carpet. If you are interested in creating awareness and preventing child sexual abuse, this is the organisation for you.
2. Pioneers Youth
This youth-led organisation is quite a bit different from the others in this list because it’s not only a platform for Sri Lankan youth, it’s also a platform for South Asian youth to foster, empower and embrace their various talents, skills and opinions. They have done several projects with regards to social service, creating awareness and youth participation in policymaking. It’s an open space where youth from all walks of life can gain experience and make connections with various other nationals. The organisation incorporates both activism and volunteerism to bring out the best in anyone who joins the movement.
3. The Road to Rights
Now this youth movement may be a bit more popular since they have some pretty famous advocates who create awareness regarding the Sustainable Development Goals but it’s a less talked about an initiative that deserves more hype. The movement is trying to create awareness as well as initiate action for a sustainable future for the youth of today. They have a speciality programme known as the University ambassadors but that’s not the only way you can get involved. You can sign up for a variety of activities ranging from research to beach clean-ups by registering as a volunteer through their website.
4. Hype Sri Lanka
This organisation is a youth empowerment incubator that focuses on youth policy formulation and youth infrastructure development. Recently, they initiated a project named Citizens’ Mandate which was introduced as a community forum for everyone to discuss and contribute to policymaking. But that’s not all they do; Hype SL has planned a free course on sign language in partnership with the Sri Lanka Federation of the Deaf as well as several other donation projects last year. So if you’re looking to engage in policymaking and development of the youth, this is the organisation for you.
5. The Open Gate
The Open Gate was formed in 2019 to provide service to society. Since then the organisation has conducted several donations to help the needy, especially school children, as well as educational, career guidance and skill development programmes. It’s interesting to note that their headquarters are in Kandy when so many youth organisations are based in Colombo. Recently, they had partnered up with The Silent Knights non-profit organisation to conduct a blood drive in Colombo and Kandy, which brings us to our sixth organisation.
6. The Silent Knights
The Silent Knights is not strictly a youth organisation but it’s pretty much youth-led. The interesting thing about this organisation is that it’s a twitter-based movement. If anyone is active on Lankan twitter they will know that it’s an amazing space. So it’s even more amazing to see an organisation that was started by a group of Twitter mutuals focused on social service. Since its inception in 2021, they have conducted a secret Santa programme as well as the blood donation drive mentioned previously. They will start recruitment for their newly established organisation within the next six months so it’s best to keep an eye out on this fresh movement.
Twitter – https://twitter.com/knights_silent
7. Sisterhood Initiative
This movement has set out to build communities one conversation at a time. It gives voice to thousands of Muslim girls and women across the country who experience scrutiny in every aspect of their lives. The Sisterhood Initiative facilitates intra-faith dialogue while protecting and advocating for the rights of Muslim women along with a variety of other activities that build a network of strong women. Despite being a movement focused on Muslim girls and women, the Initiative functions with the support of non-Muslim people as well. It’s truly a shining example of solidarity that deserves more attention.
8. Sri Lanka Unites
This might be by far the most serious and established youth movement in this list. It’s also quite different from the other movements listed so far. Sri Lanka Unites was founded to bring the youth together in the aftermath of the civil war. It has been functioning since 2009 and has a large number of members supported by a board of advisors. However, it’s still important to discuss the aftereffects of the civil war that ended more than 10 years ago. So if anyone is interested in discussing reconciliation, fostering Sri Lanka leadership and being champions of change, this is the movement for them.
9. 21st Century Books
The list is wrapped up with this unconventional youth collective that really can’t be categorised as a youth movement or organisation. 21st Century Books focuses on giving the youth a platform to read, learn and grow. It’s also a platform where they can publish their articles and read opinion pieces from their peers. You can get involved mostly by sending articles to their email or the link mentioned below. It’s a wonderful space for amateur writers to start out and receive help on their writing. Teen view, headed by teenagers, for teenagers to publish their work, is also part of this collective. You can also join the collective by keeping an eye out on their instagram page to be a part of their projects, like the seminar series for 2021 Advanced Level students.
Visit their Instagram page @booksoftwentyfirstcentury for more information.
Write them an email firstname.lastname@example.org
Writing submissions cab be sent here.
Membership form for Teen View here.