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Kolamba Yathra 2015′ was the third yathra (journey) conducted by Eco Friendly Volunteers (ECO-V). Its theme was interfaith journey for sustainability. ‘Kolamba Yathra’ took place on September 19 with the participation of 200 youth from different youth groups, societies, communities’ universities and schools representing Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and Islam religions.  The purpose of the event was to create awareness among general public on climate change, and how each individual can contribute towards the impact of climate change.

Also this journey was held to support the People’s Pilgrimage happening at Global level towards COP 21 in Paris this year.

‘Kolamba Yathra’ started at 8am from Good Market Race Course Ground, Colombo heading towards the Gangarama Buddhist Temple, Murugan Hindu Kovil at Slave Island, Fatima Christian Church, Maradana and Dawatagaha Muslim Mosque covering eight km in total. While the participants held props with different messages, they also organized street drama, raised their voices with slogans, and distributed stickers highlighting the importance of protecting nature and working towards climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The public event of ‘Kolamba Yathra’ was held at 4pm at Good Market, Race Course Ground, Colombo. The chief guest was Chathurika Sirisena, daughter of President Maithripala Sirisena. Dr. Steven Bygrave from Beyond Zero Emissions, Australia,
Dr. Amanda Kiesell of Good Market, Ananda Mallawatantri the country head of IUCN, Upali Gunasekara; principal of Royal College were among the invitees at the event. As highlighted by Sirisena at the public event, “Only those who love environment will love their families. Only those who love families will love their country.”

At the end of it, only those who love nature will love their country and protecting Mother Nature means protecting the country. The youth and kids who took part in the yathra shared what they learned throughout the journey and the messages they would like to share with the world. All the visitors signed on the ‘climate wall’ to show their concern towards global warming and climate change.

The youth have gained exposure to ‘green activities’ on how each of them can serve as a gateway to personal and community behavioral change. And they have the opportunity to conduct their own ‘green project’ in order to combat climate change within their own communities, through the facilitation and support of ECO-V.  This is the outcome of the event and while making the general public aware of climate change issues, it has also produced green leaders who can take these messages forward within their communities.

Also the messages given by youth as well as kids after the event will be shared with the world during the COP 21 which is scheduled to be held in Paris in December.

ECO-V, as the organizers of the event, would like to express the gratitude towards the support provided by Journeys for Climate Justice (JCJ) Australia, beyond Zero Emission, Australia, Federation of Environmental Organizations (FEO), Good Market, IUCN Sri Lanka, Center for Environmental Justice, Sarvodaya Movement,  Foundation of Goodness, Leo Club of Piliyandala, Leo Club of Nawala Metro, Scouts of Royal College, Girl Guides of Sri Lanka, Field Botanists Association, Global Eco-Village Network, Sri Lanka, Eisenhower Fellowships of Sri Lanka and two personal donors in making this event a success.

This event is to respect all international organizations including the Interreligious Climate and Ecology Netwrok (ICE network), International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB), Our Voices, Peoples Pilgrimage, Green Faith and many others, who are working very hard towards COP 21. By conducting ‘Kolamba Yathra’ we raised Sri Lankan voices to support them.

Kanchana Weerakoon and Madushani Pandipperuma

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