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VOF Week 2: The Journey Continues…

My journey started young, as I became fascinated with words and how powerful they were. I stumbled across a collection of Lord Tennyson’s poetry and even though I was only 12yrs, I remember being enraptured by the magic of words, a twist of phrase that could open my eyes to new ways of thinking. This fascination led to a career in print journalism, and though I’ve now moved on to the audio visual medium, I still continue to be addicted to words.

Growing up in a country embroiled in a military conflict, you see injustice, inequality and man’s inhumanity every day. I developed a social conscience early on and this was bolstered by my Christian faith, where I knew we were all created equal by God, no matter our ethnicity. I was 10 years old when violent ethnic riots took place in Colombo, now considered the start of Sri Lanka’s “war”. This was a defining moment in my life – I watched helpless and angry as marauding gangs set fire to a Tamil-owned shop near my grandma’s home, cars were stopped and set on fire, gangs of drunken men roamed the streets with sticks, clubs & knives. Ever since that day, I have never considered myself a Sinhalese, it’s not something anyone should be proud of.

Words carried me on my journey into journalism, where after a few years I became disenchanted with how words could so easily be twisted to mean something else. I watched as politics and political posturing took over journalism in my country, and decided it was time to get out, and fast!

My day job now is producing video documentaries and managing the programme work of an Asia Pacific educational foundation that works to raise awareness on issues of sustainable development and social justice. And on weekends, I volunteer my time at my church, working in ministries involving children, troubled & abused teenage girls and with widows. In both these worlds that make up my current universe, I find the power of words as strong as ever: the power to lift up a broken spirit, to give hope, to make people sit up and take notice, to be moved to take action.

My current part-time volunteer project is to gather the stories of the teenage girls I work with, their very troubled and horrific experiences at the hands of adults, and to try and make sense of what is happening to young girls in the villages and urban sprawls of Sri Lanka. Words will carry me through this too.

It was words that drew me to World Pulse. I believe very strongly in personal testimonies, and I believe that humans are pre-programmed to tell stories! I believe strongly in dialogue and debate, in allowing different opinions to be heard, but not necessarily being swayed by them!! I am also drawn to World Pulse by the sense of community that has been generated online, the bond of familiar stories, resonating words.

And so my journey continues…

Word count: 499 words


Maria de Chirikof's picture


In a way I see this as going back to a time when history was passed down orally but different in that here I can talk to women in other countries. It is important work you are doing and I applaud you and cheer you on!

I often wish I was stronger and better so I could do things like this too, but it often seems it takes all my strength just to live day to day. I cry myself to sleep sometimes thinking I am a failure because I do not have the strength (yet) to actually do things I think about and want to do. I love that there are woman like you I can meet and talk to since it does inspire me to never give up!


Manori's picture

sisters of a feather!

HI Maria

I think that surviving each day is definitely a victory. Especially in a world that is so filled with misery and hurt and hate and the love of destruction. I think that we should all celebrate surviving each day! I certainly Thank God each morning for a new day, and I'm equally thankful each night that i survived another day "out there"!

Us women are all more alike than we care to admit - family and personal relationships are more important to us than work or fame or personal goals; we care more than we should sometimes; and we keep pushing ourselves far too much to be all things to all the people in our lives!

So we're sisters of a feather, and can certainly be inspiring each other! Hang in there!


Maria de Chirikof's picture

I agree

I do think sometimes you need to give yoruself a break when you feel low since it is true that which does not kill you makes you stronger and how we can share our strengths with each other. I love that I held onto my dreams through our dark times and think that is enough for now and soon I will be ready for much more!

I always think it is funny how I can feel the stories blossoming in my heart though I can't hear them yet. I get just vague feelings so know what a few will be about and others I think about it and let my mind just wonder about it until I feel like it is time to write it down.

Don't you wish someone would invent something like that one quill the reporter had in Harry Potter #4 where it hung in the air next to her and wrote her thoughts down as she did other stuff. If we could figure that out...


Mckenzie's picture

Sisters Of A Feather

I really love that line.

Dear Manori,

Thank you for your personal story. Ten years old is so young to be surrounded by violence as you described above. As I read the news on Gaza, Iraq, Sudan, and the many other countries I often think of the children immersed in the conflict. Childhood is extremely pampered for most in America, I can't imagine what it would have been like to witness war as a young girl.

Terrific job on this assignment and I especially like the conclusion. You mentioned urban sprawl and the affects on young women, I was interested in hearing a bit more and your personal vision around these issues.

Tara's picture


Hi Manori,

I really enjoyed reading your assignment for week 2. What an experience to have at such a young age! It's great to hear of your work with girls and helping them to tell their stories. I'm sure they are also learning the power of stories to heal and change the world.


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