Good to have you talk to us, and welcome to The PACT interview series: can you tell us about yourself, maybe the ones we do not know yet.
Hey, it’s wonderful to talk with the PACT team! I like to introduce myself as an upcoming YKP leader and human rights activist in Sri Lanka and I am also the former YKP focal point of the Key Affected Population Committee, affiliated to the Sri Lanka CCM and Focal point of Youth Lead in Sri Lanka. I am currently working as a Project officer of an RPK and working on achieving equality in rural areas and promote Human Rights.
I raise my voice against GBV and SGB of women and marginalized communities. I am also engaged in several advocacy initiatives including strengthening community engagement at the CCM, Gender Subcommittee of Sri Lankan parliament, and decision-making platforms related to the HIV response of the country and giving CSE for adolescents, initiatives related to the ICPD program of action in Sri Lanka with UNFPA, advocacy on PrEP roll-out in Sri Lanka, and LGBT rights advocacy with young people. I am also engaged in advocacy using visual media. I have developed several videos on LGBT Rights, IDAHOT, HIV, and other SRHR issues.
As a journalist and media personality, I use my social media platforms, especially Facebook pages dedicated to issues of HIV, young people, and SRHR. I am also the mobilizer of the “Youth For Tomorrow” group in Sri Lanka which is a mobilization platform for young activists.
Why are you passionate about HIV, SRHR? How did the passion spring up?
In Sri Lanka, HIV and SRHR issues are taboos. No one talks about those things openly! Therefore, young people face a lot of difficulties including myself. Then I decided to come out and make platforms to talk and share knowledge, experience, and ideas. Especially as a journalist, I face a lot of challenges and I became a topic when sharing my open ideas about HIV and SRHR issues. But I got those challenges and bullying as milestones of my activist journey.
Therefore I work to get those challenges.
Why did you join The PACT?
By being part of The PACT, I want to further build my capacity as a young KP leader. I want to gain knowledge especially on policy level engagement related to SRHR issues of young people and YKP and strategies to effective advocacy with policymakers and decision-makers. I also want to gain knowledge and expertise on mobilizing young people and sustaining a successful mobilization initiative to ensure that young people from key populations continue to engage meaningfully throughout. Another way I believe The PACT will help me share knowledge among young people everywhere in this world and develop skills and change attitude to raise voice for human rights and against stigma, discrimination.
What motivates you to keep pushing and working for the benefit of young people?
I always like to see empowered people, therefore I changeG my career and came to rural areas in Sri Lanka also. I believe we must help people who live in the beyond of benefit line. Some people get every benefit and they live without any suffering. But what about others?
This power line is so wrong and unfair. Therefore we need to fight and change this system.
As an example, we can see high-class LGBT people enjoy them their rights! but it’s hard to get rights to those who live in poverty. That’s same for every community.
Therefore my team and I are trying to stand up for marginalized youth and it’s my motive.
What are your hopes for the future of the youth HIV movement?
We need to alliance with government and civil society for our goal. Sometimes this movement is backward, because disparity between government and civil organizations.
Civil organizations know real situation of the community and government have resources. If we take one platform to both parties, that will be more effective.
And I believe we need to give more opportunities for youth to decision making, then we can get more engagement from them.
What would be your message to young people all over the world working to end AIDS by 2030?
We are waiting for you! Here, we have lots of space for leaders! If you can lead this movement and take more responsibilities, we can end AIDS by 2030.
And don’t make stigma and discrimination! If you see any stigma or discrimination, please fight, please ask help..