A Lost Generation of Tamil Youth: Impact of Past War Trauma, Present Psychosocial Context, Education and Globalization

Anandarajan Memorial Lecture. 3rd October 2015.

Many youth, the blossoming flowers of our communities were killed during the recent civil war in Sri Lanka. Many more were injured, maimed, lost limbs, became handicapped, some continue to live with shell pieces and spinal injuries.
Many were psychologically scarred by their traumatic experiences. They were sacrificed, or sacrificed themselves or were caught in the crossfire in an orgy of youthful dreams of freedom, better social order and adventure.

The surviving, present day youth in Northern Sri Lanka face a grim future. Society is just recovering from three decades of devastating civil war. In the current post war context, the future of the community depends on rebuilding broken social structures in which youth can play a crucial role.

Most of the present youth in North and East, Sri Lanka were born during the war, faced many hardships and had grown up amidst manmade and natural disasters (i.e. internal ethnic conflict, brief Indian intervention and Tsunami). Coming of age, they have to struggle through a multitude of psychosocial problems, many of them a legacy of the war. There is also the sudden impact of modernization and global culture which they were not exposed to during the war due to blockades and more immediate survival needs. In addition to these handicaps, they also have not had the advantages of a beneficial educational sector to help them make a future for themselves and rebuild their society.
This article emphasises the importance of psychosocial awareness and education, training in healthy psychosocial activities, expressive therapy through creative arts, giving opportunity for healthy hobbies, obtaining family support,harmony and unity, forming self-help groups, giving suitable vocational training, and observing religious and cultural rituals in order to increase youth motivation and participation in development.

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