It was Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka. The mass at church was coming to a close. Elsewhere people were sitting down to have breakfast. It was meant to be just another peaceful Sunday, where everyone would relax. But this peace was soon shattered. On the 21st of April, terrorists of the Islamic State detonated 8 bombs across Colombo. The deadliest of these were at churches and five-star hotels. This heinous crime has killed approximately 250 people and injured many more.
The initial fear on Sunday from the multiple news alerts soon turned into grief. This fear and grief then transformed into anger. Despite a social media ban, many Muslims took to social media denouncing these terrorists and their twisted radical ideology. Sri Lankans from other backgrounds too called for calm. This anger was also directed at squabbling government officials who admitted to having prior knowledge of these attacks yet took no action to prevent it.
Amidst this wave of emotions, a group of Startup founders decided that action was needed. As entrepreneurs, they knew what it takes to obtain funding. On Monday morning, they met and decided to facilitate funding towards helping Sri Lanka heal and rebuild. The very next day, they had built a website and set up a GoFundMe page. Just like that, Sri Lanka United was born.
Sri Lanka United is a collective of local startup founders that aim to help Sri Lanka heal and bounce back from the deadly bombings. These startups are involved in education, e-commerce, travel, finance, marketing, and so many other industries. ReadMe is also a member of Sri Lanka United. By coming together, these startups aim to collaborate and help get funds towards supporting efforts helping the victims recover from this tragedy.
Over the course of 24 hours, its GoFundMe campaign raised $7000 to this effort. Its current goal is to raise $100,000. From the initial discussions, it was unanimously agreed by all the founders of Sri Lanka United that the money it collects should go towards creating the greatest impact. As such, these funds will be spent to ensure long-term support for the victims. This long-term support can be categorized as:
- Empowerment (40% allocation) – The deadly bombings have shattered families. In many cases, the families have lost their breadwinners. Sri Lanka United aims to support initiatives that help these families find a livelihood and rebuild a normal life.
- Resilience (40% allocation) – Tragedies like this leave both physical and mental scars. Many organizations are currently supporting efforts to deliver short-term medical care to the victims. However, it’s always challenging to deliver long-term care to the victims, especially mental health support. As such, Sri Lanka United will allocate 40% of it’s funds to supporting initiatives that deliver long-term care to the victims.
- Reconciliation (20% allocation) – The Easter Sunday bombings is the deadliest terrorist attack Sri Lanka has faced since the end of its 30-year civil war. It’s imperative as a nation that strong initiatives are taken to heal any rifts between its diverse communities. This will undoubtedly take time. But Sri Lanka United is determined to support these initiatives to help Sri Lanka heal.
These are not goals that can be achieved overnight. They are challenging goals that will take months if not years to achieve. Yet, these are also the hardest challenges following a crisis. Furthermore, many organizations are already tackling short-term challenges with immense support. As such, Sri Lanka United has chosen to tackle harder long-term challenges.
Of course, the founders of Sri Lanka United admit that tackling these challenges isn’t their specialty. Hence it working towards supporting organizations with initiatives to achieve these goals. Already it has formed a partnership with Red Cross to support its efforts to help the victims of the Easter Sunday bombings. Over the coming days and weeks, Sri Lanka United aims to form more partnerships with organizations actively involved in supporting the victims.
Sri Lanka has suffered greatly. The loss of over 300 lives is not a wound that will heal easily. Yet, Sri Lanka is a resilient nation. It has bounced back from tragedy before and will do so again. However, it will take time and a considerable amount of effort. But as a nation, it is imperative that we do so to heal from this tragedy and rebuild a stronger future.