By the People For the People (BPFP) is a non-profit organisation in Sri Lanka, that is dedicated to inspiring social change by empowering people through Knowledge, Information, Education and Interaction. BPFP is part of REDLIME (a research and design firm based in Sri Lanka) currently funded by the founder of REDLIME, SD Nish, and works very closely with many grass root level organisations.
By the People For the People (BPFP) seeks active Sri Lankans to become catalysts in their schools, families and communities, providing information and resources for establishing a wisdom society in schools and youth service organizations, community-based organizations and nongovernmental organizations that give them the skills and confidence to become role models in society. To do so, they will need opportunities to learn and practice to become catalysts.
Empower people through Knowledge, Information, Education and Interaction.
- Create tools that will empower people to understand and comprehend subjects like Global Economy, Socio-Economic Development, Organic Agriculture, Global Warming and Mankind Evolution and Development.
- Create a media space, focusing on youth, gender and environment for people to discuss, express, participate and be involved in the sustainable development process.
- Build a knowledge-based society through information and education using social media and alternative communication methods for positive social change.
PUBLIC ADVOCACY CAMPAIGNS
Sri Lanka’s most-watched talk show
The European Union funded EU Awareness Programme on Humanitarian and Development Assistance in Sri Lanka was completed as a project in March 2010. During this 18 month period, REDLIME, Sri Lanka’s only research and design firm, managed to demonstrate confidence and credibility towards INGOs and NGOs by striking an alternative, unbiased path through its balanced media platform and talk shows. As a result, the feedback we received from the Government and Nongovernment entities and civil society was largely positive. It managed to create a foundation for attitude change and overcome challenges such as security and political restriction and dealing with the fear factor through a positive media approach.
As the only non-political talk show created by REDLIME, with the financial support of the European Commission’s Delegation to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, and the biggest audience and number of participants, The People’s Show has housed more than few hundred experts in various fields and backgrounds and aired their views and opinions on the various issues discussed. It was a successful media forum in all three main languages of Sri Lanka, reaching more than 3.8 million people through SIRASA TV (Sinhala), SHAKTHI TV (Tamil) and CHANNEL ONE MTV (English). In each of the 24 episodes, a particular development project was highlighted and grass root level stakeholders to executives of humanitarian and development organisations were given the limelight to express.
This forum was the only platform that offered the Northeast and the Upcountry Tamils, who were deprived of such a forum before, to come out from the darkness and voice their previously suppressed views. It has given opportunities to many stakeholders of the development community, from field-level managers to grass root level beneficiaries, to talk about current issues pertaining to the relevant topics. It has helped to create a broad understanding about humanitarian and development assistance in Sri Lanka by allowing all stakeholders at all levels to be actively involved in discussing the relevant issues based on various topics.
- The Sinhala talk show, with the biggest audience and number of participants, has housed more than 100 experts in various fields and backgrounds and has aired their views and opinions on the various issues discussed. In each of the 24 episodes, a particular project in the EU Awareness Programme was highlighted and grass root level stakeholders to executives of humanitarian and development organizations were given the limelight to shine. Their stories and opinions that were once confined to only their own ears were put out to be heard by more than 3.8 million of the Sri Lankan population. This has paved way to accomplish a positive impact in the minds of the people about the development partners of Sri Lanka through engaging their minds to the various features of such projects and their uniqueness. Over the duration of the show, more than 400 people have participated and shared their opinions under current topics as well as very sensitive topics.
- The Tamil talk show has the best response and the highest ratings amongst all Sri Lankan reality shows conducted in Tamil. This forum was the one platform that offered the Northeast and the Upcountry Tamils, who were deprived of such a forum before, to come out from the darkness and voice their hidden selves. This forum has given opportunities to many stakeholders of the development community, from field-level managers to grass root level beneficiaries, to talk about current issues pertaining to the relevant topics. It has helped to create a broad understanding about the humanitarian and development assistance in Sri Lanka by making all the stakeholders at all levels actively involved in discussing the relevant issues based around various topics. Each episode of this talk show consisted of at least 30 guests who actively contributed their opinions and thus, this forum was used by viewers, from university students to housewives, as a learning platform.
- The People’s Show
- The English talk show, where sensitive, current and out of the ordinary issues were discussed and put under the microscope for deeper understanding of various scenarios of different topics. A forum for the intelligent and intellectual who have a vast knowledge on these topics were put together under one roof to discuss, argue and put forth their ideas on to the table and across to the English speaking community of Sri Lanka. Expatriates, corporate partners, educators and executives of various organizations who contribute towards the betterment of Sri Lanka gathered to voice out their opinions on each of the topics. During each show, a highlighted project of the EU Awareness Programme relevant to the topic discussed was emphasized as a “Project of the Week” to put forth the fruitful outcomes and benefits of such projects towards building a better nation. More than 200 people from various backgrounds have gathered in this forum to participate and share their opinions.
- Child Rights and Issues: In year 2000, ILO predicted that there are 35,000 economically active children in Sri Lanka. Increased tourism activities, migration of women to Middle-Eastern countries as labour and infrastructural development has led children of Sri Lanka to be exposed to situations such as child labour, child prostitution, and many more where they are restrained from their fundamental rights, such as education. Thus, the topic of child rights and their issues is a mandatory topic that needs to be addressed as children make a nation’s future. Children under difficult circumstances, parents, officials, and other stakeholders will be the targets of this subject.
- Women Empowerment and Gender Equality: The traditional role of women in Sri Lanka has changed drastically over the years to accommodate increasing financial demands and free education system. More women enter the work force and thus, many changes occur in people’s lives. Domestic violence, sexual harassment, discrimination and glass ceilings are some of the terms that occur in this context and necessary action must be taken to educate people about changed environments and gain greater acceptance on equality.
- Sustainable Development: Development is a continuous process. New discoveries are made and people need to adapt to these new ways at a very fast pace in order to keep up with the world. Along with the adaptation of these new ways that emerge in various parts of the world, people have a tendency to adopt the different cultures that they emerge from. Thus, the roots of the people are forgotten. Yet, real development arises when people balance their own roots and get the best from other cultures.
- Peace and Reconciliation: The stigma of a three decade war still remains in the hearts of the people affected, especially people who lost their own and their homes. Although peace is highlighted in general, individualistic attention should be given to each area of peace such as healing the wounds, rehabilitation, uniting the families drawn apart due to war, etc.
- Environment, Agriculture and Organic Farming: Environment is an area that is greatly forgotten due to the development and reconciliation process in Sri Lanka. Due to the substantial reconstruction processes undertaken and the mass urbanisation in the country, environmental issues such as erosion, deforestation and pollution of freshwater resources, air pollution are common and keep on increasing due to the ignorance of the people. For sustainable development, issues of the environment should be addressed by all people responsible. Agriculture and organic farming are two main themes in this area that need to be acknowledged due to growing interest and demand.
- Human Rights and Freedom of Expression: Although a Democratic nation where freedom is valid for every citizen, a diminished political system and corrupt national services have ensured that human rights are violated and exploited. Freedom of expression is compressed and people are expected to be silent for whatever actions those in power take. For real democracy to arise out of the ashes, people need to fight for their rights, especially for their freedom to express.
- Health and issues within: The healthcare sector in Sri Lanka constitutes one of the largest prevailing issues with no proper system of administrating the patients and finding long-term solutions for them. The lack of understanding and acknowledging the current demands of the health sector, especially in relation to mental health and disability has created immense hardships for the citizens affected. Health sector workers, policy makers and ordinary people need to identify and prioritize the issues that need serious attention and find long-term solutions
- HIV/AIDS: HIV/AIDS has not been a high priority in the minds of Sri Lankans as so far, the rates have been significantly low according to research. Yet, the association of HIV/AIDS and other STIs is highly tabooed and hold many incorrect beliefs within the social norms. With increase in tourism activities and other industries people will be more prone to be exposed to these diseases and should be educated on prevention and how to deal with people affected.
- Language Equality and Governance: Approximately 74% of the Sri Lankans belong to the Sinhala community while Hindus and Muslims form approximately 18% and 7% respectively. The violation of language rights has caused Sri Lanka to undergo a three decade war. With the end of this war, in order to safeguard peace, the need for language equality is essential along with proper governance. Policy makers and other authorities should address this issue immediately to safeguard the hard-earned peace and stop any provocation for another war.
- Education: The education system of a nation builds or breaks its future. Thus, a proper educational system should be instilled in order to educate the young minds who will be future leaders. Proper guidance should be given to align the national education system to tally with the development of the latest discoveries and technological developments in order to be in par with the global systems. Issues such as infrastructure, curriculums, updating the systems, privatization remain unresolved.
- Youth Empowerment: According to the CIA World Fact Book 2010, approximately 28 percent of the Sri Lankan population comprise of youth. The condition of the economy, an ethnic war along with other societal conditions has made youth face issues such as unemployment and lead them to many illegal activities. Their morale is brought down and suicidal rates have increased over the past years due to the unsolvable issues they face. Empowering youth is an important component of rebuilding a nation. Giving them the correct training, identifying their specific needs and talents and following up on their lives are key tasks the authorities should discuss.
- Plantation Worker’s Rights and Social Issues: The plantation workers in the upcountry region of Sri Lanka are a sector that has been highly ignored over the past decades, although they play a vital role in the economical activities by contributing their labour to the tea industry. Their basic rights such as birth certificates, education and health have been ignored and their living conditions are deteriorating. High death rates are constant due to malnutrition and lack of sanitation facilities. These issues must be addressed to give equal rights to all Sri Lankans.
- Development Issues within the North East: The three decade war which was active mainly in the Northern and Eastern parts of the country left many scars behind. People are haunted by the memory of the ones they lost and the things they lost such as their homes, businesses and places they used to call home. Basic infrastructure that people need to survive was taken away from them. When rebuilding these, many issues arise and they need to be acknowledged and solutions must be sought to make the process of re-developing smooth and cause less stress to the people who are already in many dilemmas.
- Media Rights and Right to Information: Media provides people with information ranging from weather forecasts to news on what happens around them. When the rights of media are constrained, people are restricted to access vital information that is necessary to make decisions. Media has played various roles in constructing ways of expression and reporting reality. Ethical media is a must for a country that is in a post-war development phase in order to increase the engagement of people and reconnect them with each other.
- Responsible Citizens: Our main theme, Citizen Responsibility is the overall goal of our activities as well the foundation for any social change. Fulfilling individual responsibilities and finding a joint responsibilities mechanism is the way forward for growing a nation like Sri Lanka. Many prevailing issues can be easily resolved if citizens take up the responsibility without blaming each other.
PROJECT PARTNERS THROUGH REDLIME SRI LANKA
1. The European Union Delegation to Sri Lanka and Maldives (EU) is an economic and political union of 27 member states that are located primarily in Europe. The EU has developed a single market through a standardized system of laws which apply in all member states, and ensures the free movement of people, goods, services and capital.
2. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is Canada’s leading agency for development assistance. Canadian assistance to Sri Lanka began in the1950s with the provision of food, raw materials and heavy equipment. Major infrastructure projects were financed later. In the 1980s, rural development and agriculture were the main areas of work undertaken by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), which is the federal agency responsible for administering most of Canada’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) program.
3. U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the American government provides bilateral assistance to Sri Lanka. In over 50 years of partnership with Sri Lanka, USAID has contributed more than $1.9 billion to the country’s development, working in the areas of economic growth, agricultural development, environment and natural resources, health, education, democracy and governance, transition initiatives and humanitarian assistance.
4. The Norwegian Embassy in Sri Lanka The Norwegian Embassy in Colombo is one of Norway’s 104 missions abroad. 30 people work at the Embassy, which is divided into development, consular and political sections. The Ambassador is also accredited to the Maldives.
5. Swiss Cooperation Strategy for Sri Lanka (SDC) is organized and funded by the Swiss Government and operates by financing programmes both directly and in partnership with other agencies to countries around the world. SDC established its presence in Sri Lanka in 2003 with a Cooperation Office in Colombo and a Field Office in Jaffna. The activities of SDC are based on the Swiss Cooperation Strategy for Sri Lanka, The Swiss Medium Term Programme II 2010-2012 which has been jointly developed by SDC (Humanitarian Aid, Regional Cooperation and Global Cooperation) and Political Division IV (Human Security) of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA and the Swiss Embassy.
6. CARE International is one of the world’s largest private international humanitarian organizations, committed to helping families in poor communities improve their lives and achieve lasting victories over poverty.
7. Volunteer Service Organisation (VSO) is the world’s leading independent international development organization that works through volunteers to fight poverty in developing countries. VSO’s high-impact approach involves bringing people together to share skills, build capabilities, promote international understanding and action, and change lives to make the world a fairer place for all. VSO Sri Lanka volunteers are working in the areas of disability, mental health and participation and governance.
8. Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) is an independent, non-profit and non-political voluntary body. It is the focal point for business contacts both locally and abroad, and has specialized committees, affiliated associations and bilateral business councils.
9. The Rural Development Foundation (RDF) A Sri Lankan Non Governmental organization working for Basic Rights and Human rights especially in the north and east as well is poverty affected areas like Puttalam and Mannar. The organization has been involved in humanitarian relief activities and dealing with IDP issues.
10. World University Service of Canada (WUSC) is one of the largest Canadian non-governmental development agencies in Sri Lanka, WUSC is active throughout the country with a focus on delivering vocational training in conflict and tsunami-affected areas as well as reducing poverty and social exclusion in plantation communities.
11. International Organization for Migration (IOM) works to encourage social and economic development through migration, and remains committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society. IOM in Sri Lanka works in close partnership with national and local government institutions, non-governmental agencies, grass-roots, community organizations and the donor community, to assist national entities to address pressing and complex challenges in migration management, to respond to the needs created by humanitarian emergencies in the country and to ensure improved living conditions for vulnerable communities.
12. OXFAM GB in Sri Lanka, Oxfam’s focus is on helping those affected by conflict, tsunami recovery work, gender equality and sustainable livelihoods.
13. Save the Children in Sri Lanka is the non-religious, non-political, independent rights based organization working for the protection, promotion & the full realization of children rights.
14. SEWALANKA FOUNDATION is a Sri Lankan development organization that enhances the capacity of disadvantaged rural communities to identify and address their own development needs. They coordinate training and support services that contribute to the economically viable, socially just and ecologically sustainable development of Sri Lanka.
15. SARVODAYA is Sri Lanka’s largest people’s organization. Over the last 50 years we have become a network of over 15,000 villages. Today they are engaged in relief efforts in the war-torn north as well as ongoing development projects.
16. BRANDIX is the largest exporter of apparel in Sri Lanka. Brandix is engaged in developing, manufacturing and marketing end-to-end apparel solutions for global fashion super brands.
17. HAYLEYS, Multinational Conglomerate with businesses categorized in to Global Markets and Manufacturing.
18. SANASA DEVELOPMENT BANK is a unique bank committed to uplifting the standards of living for low income Sri Lankan families with its range of micro finance activities. The ownership of the bank is confined to the SANASA Movement. The clientele of the bank, among others, consists of farmers, fisherman, vendors and laborers and small business owners, making SANASA truly a people’s development bank.
BPFP SOCIAL INITIATIVES
1. Five Minute Power Talk
1.1. Things We Should Know – HIV/AIDS/ STIs
-To raise awareness amongst all people about a hidden situation in Sri Lanka and dealing with it.
– HIV infected people to join an organization/family to help people understand the victims’ social stigma and how incorrect some of their thoughts are. (e.g.: drinking from the same glass /having physical contact spread HIV, etc.).
-Inquire about how the public perceives these issues
1.2. On the Spot
-Instant scenarios – creating spontaneous scenarios to grab the attention of onlookers and passers-by to portray a meaningful message at the end. They can be based on violence, women’s rights, disability (differently-abled persons), environmental issues, child rights, human trafficking, AIDS ans sexuality, and the usage of precautions and personal hygiene habits.
2. Reality Show for Social Change
2.1. We Can
The show focuses on 10 contestants as they travel across the country with a large sum of money and try and help people in unique ways by participating in a series of challenges in order to become Sri Lanka’s greatest unknown philanthropist.
In each episode, contestants will travel to a different village or city and will be given an amount of money and an assignment. In some cases, contestants are to be assigned to help a particular individual or organization, while in others, they are simply told to find people in need. The contestants then have the opportunity to raise additional money in order to reach their goals. At the end of each episode, the panel of judges selects one person to be sent home.
At the end of the season, the winner will be revealed and will be given money for him/herself as well as money to be given away.
5 or 6 NGOs and private sector organizations (CSR units) can be integrated to work along as the competitors and can choose villages all over Sri Lanka. They will be able to identify target groups in IDP camps and rural villages to give away the money to.
3. Space for Youth
3.1. A Life Worth Living Again
A programme that acts as a platform for young achievers to talk about their fields of expertise as well as their lives in general.
Youth activists who attempt to make a change in society for good, young warriors who fought the battle against terrorism, doctors, nurses, inventors, IT experts, young entrepreneurs, scientists, etc., can speak on how they started off, their inspirations, future hopes and current activities they are involved in.
4. Mentorship Programmes
4.1. Chat Me Up
A programme for young adults with various issues – a space to discuss and find solutions to the various issues and challenges they face. A call or chat service to talk (anonymously, if desired) about their issues regarding health, family, education, etc., and have experts and achievers to act as mentors. Time with mentors and appointments for meetings or group discussions can be arranged.
Audience: Young adults and parents
A programme dedicated to the elderly community of Sri Lanka, who has contributed towards our nation’s growth in various ways, in order to give them due attention and respect. In reality, the retired community of any country, who has played a significant role in the development of the nation, are forgotten and have no space to talk about their lives. Thus, this programme can provide them a platform to talk about their lives, their pasts, achievements and their current ways of living.
Audience: Senior citizens, Youth
5. Magazine Programmes
5.1. A Day with the Forgotten
To raise awareness about the groups of people who are generally forgotten due to reasons such as more attention given to the war-torn people of the country. Groups such as vendors, fishermen and their families and teachers in rural villages who work and contribute towards the development of the nation but are not given due attention are to be highlighted in this show.
A Day with a Vendor
A Day with a Teacher (Iskole Mahattaya/ Nona)
A Day with a Building Constructor
A Day with a Day Labourer in the Middle East
This can be sub-categorized in to two: Achievers and Current Issues of Women.
A programme that celebrates women achievers, especially those engaged in nontraditional trades such as carpentry, electricity, etc., as well as entrepreneurs and other high-end achievers.
The programme can also highlight women who are constantly exposed to violence to make them aware on how to avoid certain situations. Help lines, organizations, legal aid can be highlighted on each segment to create awareness of existing services for the battle against such violence and how society can contribute towards the prevention of injustice. Human Trafficking, Sex Industry, Marital Issues and Adolescence are some suggested topics for discussion.
5.3. Nature and I – Nature has always looked after mankind, it’s time man starts looking after nature.
Topics such as pollution, global warming, animal cruelty, bird life, oceans, forests, beaches, marine life, organic farming and exploration of the natural heritage we were bestowed with.
The show can be made unconventional by integrating a segment where current topics related to the environment, such as how each individual can contribute towards a greener and healthier environment and gaining collective contributions at the end. For example, picking up garbage off roads and beaches, cleaning after oneself instead of waiting for the authorities to act and greener infrastructure (demolition of old constructions that are unhealthy for the environment).
5.4. Living Art
Topics that can be discussed are the art of public speech, the art of dining, the art of travelling, the art of hospitality, the art of celebrating nature, which will be educational as well as spread much needed attention to the art of living amongst the general public of Sri Lanka. It can also include an international segment to highlight how the aforementioned areas are practiced in other countries to open people’s minds to accepting new concepts and other cultures and ways of living.
5.5. Spice It Up
This is an interactive show in which the host travels around Sri Lankan roads in search of all hot spots serving great food. Visiting cheap street food stalls to five star hotels, the host will travel all over Sri Lanka highlighting the varieties of food in Sri Lanka.
It can also include a segment in which the audience will be guided to prepare food that is easier and healthier than junk food. It can be called “Express Meals” to target working parents and people who prefer to spend less time cooking due to their daily busy schedules.
This is a space for art of all kinds in order to generate curiosity on the arts among young minds.
Dance, Theatre, Visual Art and Architecture, Music and Literature are some of the usual topics that are discussed under Arts. This show can be made different by integrating a variety of other segments such as Folk Arts, local and international artists, etc. It can also introduce new ways of thinking and workshops on such topics to ingrain creativity and innovation in the future.
Audience: Children and young adults
5.7. Kids Spots – Folk Tale with Animations
Create animated cartoons on Sri Lankans as well as international folk tales to educate the children about local and international cultures and lessons of history. Can also maintain a website to promote and create awareness of folk tales amongst International School students who are usually unaware of the nation’s history or culture.
The programme can be promoted by having a Cartoon Bus for schools all over the nation and drawing competitions, poetry competitions, etc., around the nation.