The journey began as a Family effort to reach out to children at Menik Farm in May 2009.
Friends and relations then joined in to support the effort.
Corporate office Teams also joined in for the Project of supplying milk powder, schoolbooks, clothes, teacher training items and umbrella's for primary school teachers.
Project ran from May to September 2009.
The need for healing, unity and reconciliation was strongly felt.
In December 2009, a Carol Service was organized with participation of choirs from North and South for first time after war. This was organized under the auspicious of the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka.
The Year 2010
AreaGeneral Manager of People's Bank was requested to identify two of the most economically challenged schools that needed support, to be the basis of a first visit to Jaffna.
A Team was built to visit Jaffna in April 2010 ----- and this became The Unity Team.
The support of People's Bank, Janashakthi Insurance PLC and the Shyamala School of Art was harnessed to collect school books and footwear to be distributed amongst children of St. Mary's College / Holy Family Convent, Kayts and Saravanai Sinnamadu School, Kayts.
This project took place on 29th April 2010.
A needs assessment was carried out and it was undertaken to build up toilets, provide showers / taps and a water connection to Saravanai Sinnamadhu School, together with the conduct of a Medical Camp.
Medical Camp: Kayts
Contact was made with Northern Provincial Council Authorities and Provincial Health Authorities for approval to conduct a Medical Camp.
The first Medical Camp was held on 26th and 27th June 2010 in the premises of Saravanai Sinnamadu School and St. Mary's College, Kayts. The support of the Sri Lanka Navy was also obtained through the Commander.
This Camp held at 2 locations served over 1300 patients and provided all medications. These were provided by Lanka Hospitals Ltd., who also provided 09 Pharmacists. The Unity Team had 34 Doctors on hand.
The Project also included a donation of medical equipment gifted to the Kayts Base Hospital in memory of the late Christine Jeyaweerasingham Dias by her family.
Medical Camp: Viduthalthivu
The support of the Sri Lanka Army was sought, as well as the continuing approval of Health Authorities for the 2nd Medical Camp which was held on 11th September 2010, at the Viduthalthivu Base Hospital.
The Project also included the gifting of school books and sports equipment mainly funded by NDB Bank. These were gifted to Joseph Vaz M.V. Vidutaltivu on the 10th of September.
26 Doctors and 08 Pharmacists were on hand to treat 1100 patients, in the location of a former battle ground.
As done at Kayts, the Shyamala School of Art completed a large wall painting on the hospital as a gift to the people of the area. The staff of Janashakthi and People's Bank also participated in the Project.
A TV set was gifted to the nurses of the Mannar General Hospital and medicines as well as medical equipment were gifted to the Viduthalthivu Base Hospital.
Ekamuthu Oray Makkal Unity Camp 2 - Mullaithivu
This Camp was significantly supported by the Sri Lanka Army, who assisted with ground logistics, transport and preparation of meals.
Again, 500 children from 14 schools attended the programme.
The focus on this Camp was developed to focus on "Leadership Development, Capacity Building and Personality Enhancement"
The programme included an Opening Session, a Seminar / Workshop, a Sports Programme and Music Programme on Day 1; An Art & Craft Workshop, an Oratory Competition, a Concert and a concluding session on Day 2.
This Camp too was supported by many donors and was held on June 11th and 12th.
A Ray of Hope – 29th October 2011
This Event was held to launch and introduce Ekamuthu Oray Makkal Unity Mission Team as a Registered Trust to the general public of Sri Lanka, to seek broad based partnerships support.
This was a long term dream of the Founder and Settlor of the Trust - Bertal Pinto-Jayawardena and his wife Shyamala Pinto-Jayawardena, the Co-Settlor.
The purpose of the public launch was to create greater transparency, bring in a highly respected Board of Trustees; open the Trust for international support of non-resident Sri Lankans; appoint a firm of Chartered Accountants with an international linkage to be the Auditors; establish a Bank Account at a leading national bank.
The Launch event included the launch of the Website , Theme Song and Brochure.
The event was also enriched by the Partnership of 125 children from across the North / Wanni and Kandy, who performed items of dance and culture.
Testimonial speeches were delivered by Master Logeswaran - Vidyananda M.V., Mullaithivu, Master Priyathanushan - Vattapalai M.V., Mullaithivu and Miss Yasoda Selvaraja - Vishwamadu M.V., Vishwamadu.
The Special Guests of Honour were Major General L.B.R. Mark, RSP, USP, ndu SecurityForces Commander, Mullaithivu and Mr. L. Illangovan, Secretary Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports Northern Province
In addition to the Founder Trustees, the Unity Mission Team began with a core group that included Brinsley Benjamin, Neluka Jayatunga, Dr. A. Ajanthan, Lasitha Perera, Prasanna Wignarajah and Mahesh Shiran. This team was strengthened by the addition of Gehan Dias, Sithampalam Sri Ganendran and Methun Kandage.
This team has been periodically strengthened by others who now form the Management Team to work towards achieving the Vision and Mission objectives of the Ekamuthu Oray Makkal Unity Mission Trust.
Ekamuthu Oray Makkal Unity Camp 3 - Mannar December 2011... Personal Testamony/ Report on Unity Camp 3
The Ekamuthu Oray Makkal Unity Mission Trust was able to very successfully conduct Unity Camp 3. This was the most successful of all of our work since 2009 in terms of the unity, reconciliation, bridge building and healing that we were able to achieve in addition to the leadership experiences that the students were able to absorb and be enriched thereby.
The Camp was a such a success and safely concluded despite the many fore warnings that came our way. We were warned repeatedly by media and sms about bad weather and an impending cyclone ....it was pouring with rain before the event t; we had to change the venue twice before Camp because the areas were flooded out .........However on the days of the camp there was NOT ONE DROP of rain.
EOM Trust is committed to working with teenage children to convey a message on an inter-faith platform, that Sri Lanka belongs to all children ....and that all children are equal and valuable and that working as ONE family that these children will make their common beautiful mother, Sri Lanka , proud of them and that they in turn have to make Sri Lanka proud of them, by working to build a future where there is unity, understanding and respect that will make all that much stronger !
This camp too was aimed to build Leadership, enhance personal Capacity Building and build self confidence, through which the children while taking part in healthy competitions are able to interact, understand each other, respect each other, build new friendships and enhance unity and reconciliation ...............for us reconciliation begins through these small and simple ways of children learning about the personal stories of the lives of other children and expressing their thoughts to each other ........and building friendships amidst the beauty of our diversity.
All of this happened because of some special support that we have received and I want to share these with you. A very special thank you is placed on record of our appreciation of the Northen Province education authorities for all their approvals and their support with selecting representative leaders from schools to attend the Camp. The Zonal Directors of the host areas of Madhu and Mannar and all other Zonal areas are saluted for their personal sense of ownership and personal efforts made for our success.
There will be many who will not understand the appreciation that we have towards the Sri Lanka Army for the amazing support extended to us. Outside of outer perimeter security given to us as we looked after 425 school children and 60 teachers .........inside the Camp the SLA personnel operated this time, at our special request without formal uniforms to create a different environment for the children. These soldiers - men and women - took a lot of trouble to ensure that the children were comfortable and safe. They helped with transport and helped us with what we would otherwise have struggled with -- cooking the raw food stuff that we brought and producing meals on a very timely and hygienic basis for 600 people. The children specifically commented on the good quality and taste of the food that they were given !!
Every single time we ran a project with the support of the SLA, we have experienced the care and support given by the normal rank and file of the SLA and the easy rapport that has taken place between children and SLA personnel in or out of uniform ....all children of one mother Lanka.....and all a vital part we feel of the healing that has to continue to take place, where the person wearing uniform is seen and treated as an elder brother or a sister. That is something unique that comes out as a by product of our work.
We are very grateful for that caring support given to us by the SLA. This time around it was the turn of those in the Mannar Division to give us that very positive and much appreciated support.
This record will not be complete if I do not place on record our appreciation of the support extended by the Asia Foundation who helped us with some amazing books to be gifted to 29 Schools to set up Reference Libraries. We also had special books to be liberally gifted as prizes for the various competitions to the Children who were divided into mixed groups and who took part in various team and individual fun based competitions. These gifts were highly appreciated!
We thank everyone for enabling all of this to happen so that we can help heal wounds of trauma and enable even in small ways to make children of the Wanni feel stronger. We were also able to link up children from the south and the hills with them and help them all to realize that yesterday is gone, that today is what we have and that if we work positively on our today's that there will be a better future for all of our children !
Our joy was multiplied by visibly seeing the unity and reconciliation that we hoped to create happening in front of our eyes .....this time the children did not seem to want to go home - they were so engrossed with new friends and enjoying the new bonds of friendship ..... we sincerely do hope that the linkages we established after Unity Camp 1 and 2 , will be further enhanced by what has taken place on Unity Camp 3 ...that the network of interconnections and friendships that we have established will spread and build......hopefully, becoming new bridges for a stronger and happier Sri Lanka !
Thank you each one of you who contributed in cash and kind towards the success of Unity Camp 3 ! ..... you have helped make a difference amongst teenagers who have such positive thoughts. Thank you again !
May the Lord bless you !
Bertal Pinto Jayawardena
Coordinator - Unity Mission Trust.
3rd January 2012
Ekamuthu Oray Makkal Unity Camp 4 - Tharanikkulam June 2012... Personal Testamony/ Report on Unity Camp 4
Please do spare a few minutes to read this special testimony, at your convenience.
Thank you to each of you who prayed for us and supported us financially and encouraged us in many ways with Unity Camp - 4 at Tharanikkulam !
We have been doing projects since 2009 and Unity Camp- 4 was the SINGLE most successful project we were privileged to do for our children and in our small way for the future of our Nation. We had 473 children , 60 Teachers and 40 UMT Team members on Camp, as well as many other minor staff helpers.
Our work and our commitment is ONLY FOR CHILDREN between 16 and 20 years .....we are working to foster healing,understanding, reconciliation and unity. We are giving of our maximum best to try and foster these aims, despite many challenges and difficulties that we sometimes face from adults who do not understand what we are trying to achieve for these children !
Please allow me to share a FEW highlights of UC-4 with you !
1. We insisted that children are mixed up and slept together with minimum facilities. We were openely told in our final open forum session that children were so unhappy to do so on the first night.
They did not know each others language and did not want to be seperated from their friends.
Believe it or not , they were hugging each other on Day 4 and were talking to each other using words of each others language, a mix of english/tamil/ sinhala and sign language and making sense to each other.
2. We had children coming up on stage and speaking a few sentences in the other language which they said they didnt know at all until they came on camp.
3. The unity and sense of closeness shared between children moved some of the adults to tears. The fact that children put their hands over their hearts to sing our Unity song was so moving.
4. We had a few injuries on camp and a number coming down with viral fever ; the Most High helped us to handle this issue even though the planned medical support system did not materialise as previously arranged and promised by the big hospital of the area.
Even this turned out to be a source of unity with the care shown by tamil and sinhala children towards those who were sick in their allocated groups were amazing to behold.........the adult doctors did not find it possible to come on camp to care for the sick; the tamil and sinhala children however were placing ice packs made of "ice palam" on foreheads of sick children and comforting them ........... all our work is worth it, if only this took place on this camp !
5. We once again identified AMAZING TALENT ....from all over the Nation and the very firm convictions that these teenagers have about unity and what they would do to build unity ......I think we adults can learn from these children on how to build unity and how to work together with forgiveness and healing to build a stronger and better Motherland.
There will be adults who will think of these comments as simply being emotional and not based on the reality of past experiences ........but they only have to see the emotion of the adults on camp who were affected by watching these children - and the video footage of children so warmly interacting with each other ......one then wonders where the divisions of our Nation came from !
6. We showed videos of our former Campers ( Unity Camp 3) Shivanthi Ratnayake and Chamika Jayamini winning at the recent Asian Athletic Championships --- and the cheering of the children was so intense , it was as if the race was being run there !......Shivanthi would have been so moved to hear the screams of nearly 500 children screaming her name out as the video was shown of her winning the Gold .....there was no race or religion barrier in that cheering.....they were all equal Lankan children cheering another Lankan child. ( At the time Shivanthi won her gold medal I received a couple of sms messages from former Group Leaders to congratulate "our sister " on their behalf. She had a standing ovation when at Camp 3 it was mentioned that she had won a medal for Sri Lanka at the Junior Commonweath Games. THAT is the level of interest that the Northern youth showed towards someone of the south )
7.I needed a Tamil motivational song abiout Sri Lanka to balance with a very moving sinhala song about Sri Lanka that we were to play on Camp/. A 18year old girl from Vavuniya North came up, sat down at a table on the stage and THEN AND THERE , composed a beautiful song inside 20 minutes with such meaningful words and THEN instructed Rukshan Perera, our Unity Team music director on the tune that she wanted.......the words were about little buds of flowers, opening out into beautiful flowers that would give out a beautiful fragrance to make our Mother Lanka more fragrant and beautiful through the love of children ...........
This song was such a hit at Camp .........thats the raw talent that we came across from the North. We had a 19 year old who has lost his family in the terrible war ; yet he had a dream then and he is making it come real now -- he wants to sing ...and WHY ? ...to make people feel happiness through his singing.
We had children from Kalutara , Katana, Marawila , Negombo, Kotahena , Bandarawela, Gurutalawa , Mt Lavinia., Kandy and Central Colombo expressing their love for Sri Lanka and their commitment to build unity ...which expressed in the way that they did, can only make people weep with emotion !
8. We were humbled to hear of a student of one of the leading Sri Lankan boys schools telling his family that though he has represented his College in two sports, he learnt what real team spirit was while at the Camp. He says he learnt lessons for life sleeping next to a boy from the interior of vavuniya who has never experienced the comforts that he is so used to....he gave his sleeping bag to that boy .....they will be friends for life, is what I hope.
9.This note is also a testament of the care, concern and commitment of the Sri Lanka Army. None of us can change yesterday ; but we can make today, such that we have a better tomorrow .......and the support given by Sri Lanka Army men and women , out of uniform while in the camp premises, has to be seen to be believed and understood.
I had a very senior army officer present at the closing ceremony calling me up later to tell me that he had tears in his eyes, when he saw the way that the boys and girls on camp were inter-relating. He remembered the sacrifices made that had made it possible for us to even have a Unity Camp in an area , where even now, not many people visit, an area that had seen so much of war, where now children from across Sri Lanka were hugging each other as equal young people , all of whom wanted to live together in unity and reconciliation.
There are so many many stories that we can share ..........the purpose of this is to share with you that we have to continue this work ....there is an urgency to continue ...there is an urgency to sponsor some of these outstanding children ......there are children who want to be doctors ...lawyers ...and most of all Teachers ....because they want to teach other children the value of education and what can be got through studies..........we need support and encouragement with our work ......we need people to remember that unity and reconciliation remains one of the single most important goals .......and we need adults to realise that children do not have bitterness or hatred in their hearts, even if there is so much sadness and experiences that would have broken less stronger children .......all these children need to feel love, care and concern in a United beautiful Sri Lanka -- and that is what the Unity Mission Trust is committed to doing , even if there is only a little that we can do at a time !
May the Most High bless you and may the religions that we have in Sri Lanka help us to work together to build strong bridges and bonds amongst teenagers that will never be broken in the future, so that they will inherit a Nation where all children are seen as valuable and equal in value.
Bertal Pinto- Jayawardena
Founder Trustee / Co-ordinator
Ekamuthu Oray Makkal Unity Mission Trust
( A legally executed non -profit Trust)
Power One Hundred, Ray of Hope 3 and the National Unity and Integration Awards: Jaffna (January 2015)
Dear Respected Recipients of this mail,
Please do permit me to share this very special mail with you, as Sri Lanka prepares to celebrate 67 years of Freedom.
Unity Mission Trust has been privileged to serve the youth of our Motherland -- building dignity, mutual respect and understanding , fostering unity, building new bridges of friendship ....... making healing happen, even in small ways at grassroot level..integrating, to build a NEW SRI LANKA on the shoulders of youth leaders.
Please find hereunder some beautiful photos of the memories of Jaffna......of building up youth to "step out into the world" under Power ONE Hundred Programme; Ray of Hope cultural integration event; the 2nd National Unity Awards to 11 youth under 21 years of age; and the election by 150 youth, of youth leaders to the National Youth Leadership Council for 2015.
What we will remember with gratitude and inspiration for a long time in the future - is of our Chief Guest Prof Vasanthy Arasaratnam, Vice Chancellor of Jaffna University. She put aside her speaking notes and in her words spoken from her heart, she said that she will join UMT as a Volunteer as soon as she retires! She also appealed to ALL Sri Lankans to support the work of UMT, because healing and unity is what Sri Lanka needs and she sees it happening through UMT!
Please do share this with others who will be interested in the work of a Trust that is NOT a NGO and which is funded by caring people!
Thank you for your continuing support !!
National Youth Leaders Empowerment Programme (July 2016)
Dear Respected Recipients,
Please do permit me to share these few images with you - and I urge you to spare a few minutes to peruse this.
First -- a very appreciative thank you to all those who have stood by Unity Mission Trust over the years - since May 2009 !- and who have funded, encouraged and strengthened our sustained and consistent march of uniting, integrating, reconciling & healing and building bridges of friendship across Sri Lanka.
The pictures are of the latest Programme run by Unity Mission Trust -- that of a Programme for our National/ Regional Leaders held on 9th & 10th July in Colombo.
We are particularly appreciative of the time spent by Ms Pooja Umashankar with this Team & for her very inspirational presentation.
The programme finalised specific youth initiatives to be run during the next 6 months across Sri Lanka.
Thank you again for supporting & strengthening Unity Mission Trust!
Power One Hundred, Ray Of Hope 4 and the National Unity and Integration Awards: Gurutalawa (April 2016)
Dear Respected Recipient,
Please do permit me to share a few pictures of our 33rd significant youth event, completed so successfully at Gurutalawa, 21-24 April.
*1st pix is of our 3rd Group of Award Winners; Then the New Youth Leadership Council for 2016/7; Group Photos of Power ONE Hundred Participants & all in Avurudu-Puthaandu celebration mode!
*The Unity & Integration National Level Award winners were from Jaffna (2); Mullaitivu (1); Galle (1);Kandy (1); Colombo (1); Mannar (1); Vavuniya ( 1); Elpitiya (1) and Ambalangoda (1). 10 Selected from 46 nominations for outstanding efforts of fostering unity!
* We are building very strong bridges of friendships ! - most of these youth have been with us from the time they were 16-17 years. Today, these youth who were at Guru are setting out on their lives journeys ! - We have a number in Universities; Medical Faculty ; Army Cadets; Police SI's; Top Mercantile firms; Accountancy students; Technical Colleges; Air Force for sports - they are spreading out.
* They are spreading out with strong beliefs in unity, integration and with friends spread out across Sri Lanka and they are Proud to be Sri Lankan! They are valuable sons and daughters of our beautiful Motherland. They are our future!