Why shared values are important during the COVID-19 pandemic
The much anticipated second phase of the district level rollouts of the Values Curriculum was successfully concluded in December 2019 across Kalutara, Kurunegala, Trincomalee, Ampara, Vavuniya and Mannar districts. As we enter into a world with a “new” normal in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, we look back at our latest rollouts to understand the importance of shared values in our lives. The rollouts, which were jointly supported by Sarvodaya and the National Youth Services Council of Sri Lanka, saw the enthusiastic participation of nearly 450 youth leaders and activists between the ages of 18 to 29. Participants represented many regional organizations such as; the Youth Services Council, Sarvodaya, Rotaract, Kalutara Youth Foundation, Bridging Lanka Organization (Mannar), Cadetting (Kurunegala) and Hopeful Volunteers (Ampara). The rollouts were conducted by the core group of youth facilitators from NYSC and Sarvodaya. Each of the three sessions consisted of experience-sharing, reflection sessions and interactive activities that enabled youth to better understand the importance of values in their daily life. During and after the rollout, participants provided positive feedback on how useful the rollouts were in both their professional and personal life. The majority of the youth facilitators mentioned being very comfortable in facilitating sessions for all seven values during this second phase, following continuous guidance and support from Values4All mentors, Mr. Ramzi Zaindeen and Ms. Thevuni Kotigala. These rollouts gave the Facilitators the opportunity to improve their skills on presentation, mediation and communication. Further, 80% of the Facilitators claim to have used the Values Curriculum since their initial training in 2018-2019, within their clubs, federations, schools and also in their professional lives. Most have identified Tolerance, Respect and Cooperation as values that mostly guide their day to day activities. The highlight of this second phase was that interested participants who attended the rollouts in the first phase received the opportunity to become a facilitator on a voluntary basis and join the core group. A third and fourth phase of the rollouts are scheduled to take place later this year. While the Values4All rollouts have currently been suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we continue to engage with our facilitators and more young people via our digital platforms. Our Facilitators across six districts have remain engaged by sharing positive thoughts for the fellow countrymen through social media platforms by sharing messages of gratitude for those front-line staff who have been working day and night during the pandemic. When expressing views with regard to promoting unity and social cohesion at times like this Kalaharan Yasotharan from Mannar district notes that ‘’as the youth of this nation, we have to be vigilant and should share news and facts that have reliable sources on social media platforms’’ also M.A.H Asri from Ampara district adds that ‘’we have to work peacefully to overcome this situation’’. At a time where COVID-19 has resulted in social stigma, stereotyping and labelling, Oshini Anuththara from Kurunegala emphasizes the need of creating a social environment where people can openly talk about this pandemic, to get rid of the fear of virus. In these evolving times, it is important to remember the better values we all possess and contribute to ongoing efforts by creating a safe and inclusive environment where we all can talk about the pandemic openly and work together to curb the spread of the disease. Core humanistic values such as cooperation, kindness, empathy and tolerance should take center-stage in our actions. If you are a young person interested in learning more about our activities, COVID-19 responses from our youth facilitators and if you wish to contribute to our ongoing dialogue on common values, please visit our website www.values4all.lk and join the conversations on our social media platforms - Facebook and Twitter. We also invite you to download the Values4All mobile app on your android device to know more on the curriculum and the range of interactive activities.