Vinuri Abeyratne: Changing the world starts with education

Vinuri Abeyratne: Changing the world starts with education

Vinuri Abeyratne, 24, Sri Lanka

Five years ago, I would not have seen myself preparing to attend a Youth Assembly at the United Nations, I saw myself as a doctor or maybe an airline pilot. Today, I am a law student, human rights activist and a passionate youth who works for change. I have come to the realization that this is my passion and this is what makes me feel alive. I am a living proof that sometimes what you want to be is not what you will end up, however, never worry because life will take you to where you belong.

I am Vinuri Udara Abeyratne from Ratnapura, Sri Lanka. I am my parent’s first-born, an elder sister to two brothers. I did not have a sister to share my doll house or makeup with so I guess I shared toy guns and cars with my brothers and loved it!

My story is different. It starts with myself and the things I have seen and heard. It starts with the education I have received and the practical world I have lived in. My story started the moment I realized change and help were needed.

Help was needed to save victims of war, welcome victimized refugees, reduce carbon emissions, reduce gender stereotyping, stop acid attacks all over the world, achieve equal rights to men and women, eradicate trafficking of men, women and children, achieve dignity for all forms of marriages, abolish slavery, and save animals their habitations.

I strongly believe that we owe the world some kindness, which could be shown through our actions. This is not only possible for myself and you. Both of us can educate our fellow friends, family and community, and make a stop to an upcoming man-made tragedy. I also believe that to take action you should be knowledgeable about what is happening around, because without the guidelines you shall be blinded.

If you have the right view of the world, you should see that it’s falling apart rapidly and you should begin to feel that money or other rich assets do not count and nothing has more value than our planet.

Development is necessary, of course, and what you give to the world should be greater than what you take from it.

Competition and power have made us so selfish we no longer appreciate simple things like the sun and the moon that give us warmth and light and take nature for granted. Power and greed have taken over our minds and it is our responsibility as youth to awaken the world.

There is enough time to pull ourselves back up. The tool to fix all things is education. Educating men, women and children about what is right and what should be done to make things right. Tomorrow is in our hands. We could be great politicians, massive company CEOs, lawyers and the list would go on, and we have the power to change the world if we take responsibility for our actions.

I am an international volunteer for Amnesty International. I have also worked with the Youth for Human Rights International to spread knowledge about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) among youths.

We should start with the simplest of things, like caring for mother nature. We need to care for our friends and neighbors and be helpful whenever they need us. We need to share food, clothing and words of help everyone around us.

Let us teach our children to love and care for their next-door neighbor who has a different skin color, teach them that schooling is not a competition but a method of building knowledge and to appreciate what they have and not be jealous of the things they cannot have. Another solution is to plan methods to make the UDHR a universal subject at schools. Most of all, we should teach kids to be kind and positive and to love each other for who they are.

I strongly believe that love and compassion, developed with the right education, are the magical ingredients to a sustainable development. Equipped by these, we could reach all of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, a strong combination of the right education on the state of today’s world and what should be done to heal the wounds inflicted by man.

Let us help ourselves to stop destroying ourselves.

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