Mirror Magazine
10th September 2000
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No 'absence' of innovation

Ever watched a play where the main character is never seen? A play in which the same character never appears twice ? Theatre enthusiasts are in for a unique and intriguing experience when Methodist College presents "The Absentee" directed by Ruwanthie de Chickera, from September 20 - 23 at the Russian Cultural Centre, Colombo 7. 

"The Absentee" evolved out of a series of theatre workshops conducted by Ruwanthie, who herself began playwriting at Methodist College.The play presents the life of the main character, Anamika, which itself suggests anonymity. The script was written by eight writers and consists of over 15 short scenes in an amalgamation of diverse writing styles. 

Ironically, the character we never see on stage is the only thread that binds the scenes together. The varied writing styles and perceptions given to the character contribute to the vitality of "The Absentee". It unveils new playwrights and brings together acting talent, which has been skilfully developed by Ruwanthie.Tickets priced at Rs.150 are available at the school office.

Youth on the march

Reproductive and sexual health are the priorities of Youth Caravan
By Uthpala Gunethilake
We often complain that the adults don't take us - the youth of this country - seriously. Sometimes it looks as if you actually need to hijack a plane or go on hunger strike for people to sit up and take notice.

But there are some among us who, without waiting to be taken seriously, actually step out into the world and do something to make a difference. In a world full of armchair activists, doing something to make a real difference certainly commands attention without asking. 

The Youth Caravan of the Family Planning Association (FPA), is also on a journey of making a difference. Initiated by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), it is now going its way in the South Asian Region, including Sri Lanka. Their journey is planned, steered and powered by volunteering youth. Their mission is to steer their own generation towards a responsible adulthood by providing reliable sexual and reproductive health services.

Our generation is weighed down by a host of problems ranging from unemployment to drug abuse. What the Youth Caravan aims to do may be a task left on the sidelines while everyone makes a lot of noise about bigger issues. But information about sexual and reproductive health comes to the young generation mostly via unreliable channels, and though they pass mostly unheard, many are the tragedies that happen due to lack of proper knowledge about these issues.

FPA Executive Director Daya Abeywickrama says, that the time has come for adults to step aside and let young people take charge of issues that affect their own generation. He says that knowledge is the first step towards responsibility, in matters regarding sexual health. "If you learn, you will not fall in the pits that everybody fell, and you can do what you want, responsibly".

Youth Caravan was initiated upon the idea that youth speaks to youth more effectively than adults. Especially when it comes to matters about sexual and reproductive health, young people come out with their problems more easily if it's another young person who listens. "Youth speaks to youth freely. We get through to them better", says 21-year-old Navindri Balasuriya, a volunteering member of Youth Caravan, which is run completely by young people aged 16-25.

Says Mr. Abeywickrema, "Youth Caravan is not a programme for young people from young people; it's a programme of young people." Anyone in the 16-25 age range can volunteer, and before really starting work, the volunteers undergo training in leadership, counselling, and in sharpening their communication skills. "In becoming a volunteer you are not only helping others, you yourself develop as a person," he adds.

This movement was launched in Sri Lanka towards the end of last year. Based in Colombo, it has centres in Kandy and Puttalam, and by now has completed a few successful projects. 

The Advisory Committee, comprising 15 volunteers, plan and carry out projects which are funded by the FPA. Chairman Asanga Karunaratne (23), says that it's a lesson in responsibilty. "We are accountable. We design our plans and programmes and we have to take complete responsibilty for what we do."

Asanga feels that the main factor necessary to carry out the programme is communication. " One way communication will not work in a field like this. You have to talk to young people at a very personal level and understand their problems well. In a sense, the 15 of us in the advisory board cannot decide what to do and what problems need answers. It has to come from the people to whom we are going to reach out."

Youth Caravan functions in a framework marked by five major aspects of sexual and reproductive health. They include sexually transmitted infections, AIDS and safe sex, unwanted pregnancy and abortion, sexual abuse and gender equity. 

Asanga and Navindri are two active members of the Caravan and are happy to be part of it. "There is so much satisfaction in working as a volunteer. Also, we are not only helping others, but we are developing ourselves as well," says Asanga. " It feels great to be doing a service to people like yourself," adds Navindri.

Today many young people are part of the many problems that plague them; being part of the solution seems to be pure idealism. But maybe if you join the Youth Caravan in their journey, you will find yourself being part of a solution to at least one of those problems. 

Clothes line

Itching to say something but no one wants to listen to you? Something which annoyed the life out of you or which restored your faith in humanity? Comment, criticism, praise or food for thought - here's an invitation to hang the laundry of your thoughts on 'The Clothes Line'. Write to us and tell the world what's on your mind, in not more than 350 words.

Send in your submissions to,

Clothes Line
Mirror Magazine
C/o Sunday Times
No. 8 Hunupitiya Cross Road
Colombo 2

Email : clothesline_lk@yahoo.com
No such thing as freedom

Nearly two years ago I was dreaming about the day after the A/L's. Going out to watch every new movie in town, trips, parties , and actually discovering the word FUN! In short, to get the freedom to do anything you want.

Two years passed with school, a heavy schedule of classes, early morning wakening, [before the cockerel!] and the tension of catching up work and grades.

Then came the exams..... 

Only five more minutes to give away the last paper. I was waiting for the breath that says 'Oh God! at last it's finished it's finished!!!!' 

It never came.

I went home. I hoped to hear the words 'Darling, now that you've finished, have some fun and freshen up your life.'

Instead I heard 'you have to wake up at six o'clock, [a little bit after the cock] and do this, and do that, and no roaming around, and don't waste time', etc.

UGH! Freedom after exams? Perhaps I better go back to my dream!!!

Short and sweet, please Why don't DJs on our radio stations cut down on the patter and play the music?. So many good shows are spoilt, for me at least, by the DJs chattering away between the songs, most often on pretty irrelevant topics. I'm not really interested to hear all about a particular DJ's lack of sleep or hunger pangs...it's the music that matters. In fairness, some do give lots of interesting snippets on their shows but particularly when there are two DJs on one show some of the cross-talk is absurd and there's lots of giggling going on that really bores the listener. So come on guys, we know you have the gift of the gab, but would you keep it short and sweet? Anonymous You are what you are When I was small I had a "cow-catcher". I wore braces to correct that. But I still have one tooth jutting out a little. Since time immemorial, I have hated my thick curly hair. During my early teens, I thought I was fat, although my all time max weight was 110 lbs! In my late teens, I still thought of myself as fat, with an additional worry of my stunted growth! In my early 20s, I straightened my hair.... my dream come true. I am 23 now, 4 ft 9 inches tall, 100 lbs, curly hair, dark complexion, a tooth jutting out.... but hey! I look great! I have shifted my perspective from what I am NOT, to what I AM. Nobody is perfect, so why set myself unattainable standards that I can't keep? I won't try to change (drastically that is ) how I look, or think I don't look nice. I don't want to waste my youth THINKING I look ugly, when day by day we are deteriorating. I have realised that NOW is the time I look my best. I am happy with what I have... it's much healthier than wanting what I haven't! "Confident"

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