By Thisuri Wanniarachchi –
The Honorable John Kerry,
Department of State,
Welcome to the Pearl of the Indian ocean. They used to call us the tear drop of the Indian Ocean, and rightly so, but we always preferred Pearl. Despite everything we’ve been through, we have always believed that a better day is possible. And today, we can say with much certainty that the better days are here and we are striving to sustain them. Your support in this time of transition is invaluable, and I believe, I speak for all the youth of our country when I thank you whole-heartedly.
As you may notice in the coming days, we Sri Lankans are a proud people. Although conflict has attempted to divide us, we have always united in our pride. We take pride in our paradise of an island: its turquoise beaches, golden sunsets, green hills and the good earth blessed by the foot prints of the Buddha. We take pride in our heritage of scholars, Ceylonese architecture, literature and our diverse faiths and languages. We also take pride in producing some of the world’s finest teas, spices and cricketers. Most of all, we take pride in our resilient, hardworking citizens who have been through so much, yet who stand strong and united in their fight for democracy.
Having been enslaved and colonized by multiple nations until we gained independence in 1948, then put through a brutal 30 year war just decades later, and then abandoned by an authoritarian regime at a time of great desperation and need for reconciliation, we have seen it all. Truth be told, my generation, like most children of war, have never had much trust in our adults. Their irresponsibility cost us our childhoods. We’ve seen things no child should have to see; fear was our bread and butter. To us, democracy has always been a distant dream.
The strides we’ve made as a nation in the past few months have been refreshing. It has restored our trust in the adults. I believe you can fathom how much this transition truly means to us. It gives us the hope that our children will never have to see what we’ve seen or feel what we’ve felt, a place no child deserves to be. Like most things in life, this transition is difficult, gradual, and sometimes frustrating, but we are getting there. Thank you for being with us, as you have with many other nations around the world as we make our way through the path to democracy.
Have a safe journey.
*Thisuri Wanniarachchi, 21, is the author of novels The Terrorist’s Daughter and Colombo Streets. She is Sri Lanka’s youngest State Literary Award winner and the world’s youngest national nominee to the Iowa International Writers’ Program. She is currently an undergraduate student of Bennington College studying Political Economy and Education Reform.