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15th Year- My personal development was immense as I grew from strength to strength throughout my time in TYO – Sophie

As the TYO UK celebrates its 15th year, I reminisce my incredible journey through the organisation.  I became a member in my late teens and was provided with several opportunities.  I actively participated in all projects and knew I wanted to foster the development of the organisation.  As I always remembered the analogy made by the Tamil Eelam coordinator of TYO at the first meeting I attended.  TYO was compared to a train, there would be members who would remain the engine of the organisation who would keep the journey of TYO going and there would be members considered like compartments who would join and leave the journey as and when they wanted.  I knew at my first meeting that I wanted to be a part of the engine that drove the organisation to success.         

Growing up in the UK as a second-generation diaspora Tamil was a challenge in itself.  Especially as I was aware of the genocide taking place in my homeland and knew my roots and heritage.  I was neither here nor there.  I was frustrated that I could not do more for my people back home. 

I have always been grateful for my upbringing, for my parents taught me what my identity is.  I attended several events, protests, meetings as a child and developed a strong passion towards the Tamil national liberation struggle.  My gratitude towards our great heroes, for their selfless sacrifices, grew strongly the older I became.  The national leader of Tamileelam recognised there were several like-minded youth in the diaspora who needed a platform to allow them to contribute towards the struggle and build a bond with their counterparts in Tamileelam.  In November 2004, the Tamil Youth Organisation United Kingdom was established.  I saw TYO UK truly flourish enabling many ardent youth to showcase their abilities and skills.         

I took on several lead roles and my personal development was immense as I grew from strength to strength throughout my time in TYO.  I became efficient at planning and organising projects and found my skills were transferrable in my professional life too.  I became confident with my conversational Tamil as we conducted meetings in our mother tongue.  I thrived as a coordinator in TYO and developed excellent leadership skills.  My reason for joining TYO was to give back to my people and my homeland, but whilst doing so I became the person I am today.

TYO UK ran several projects, but one that always motivated me to do more was the Youth Knowledge Centre TYO helped build in Visvamadu, Kilinochi.  (Sadly, the Sri Lankan forces destroyed the Youth Knowledge Centre, in 2009 during the final stages of the war).  Whilst learning my deep history and bettering my understanding of why the liberation struggle took the dimension it did, I also knew that I was in some way supporting youth like myself develop their skills in Tamileelam.

TYO grew as an organisation across the globe.  With dedication and commitment seen from diaspora youth from many countries.  Not only did members now have a special bond with youth in Tamileelam, we also began to collaborate with youth from countries such as Canada, Italy, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand and the list goes on.  Many inspired me and this pushed me to keep learning and sharing the legitimacy of our national liberation struggle. 

Throughout these 15 years, TYO UK has continued to carry the liberation flame passed onto the diaspora youth.  TYO UK has furthered and encouraged many youth to continue the fight for Tamileelam within their capacity.  TYO UK has educated many to articulate the rightfulness of our struggle.  TYO UK has recognised the need for an uncompromising fight; it continues to follow the path that was paved out by the national leader of Tamileelam.

I am a keen well-wisher of TYO UK and hope TYO UK continues to guide and encourage generations to come to stand in solidarity with the people of Tamileelam and articulate the ongoing genocide of the Eelam Tamils by the Sri Lankan state.  So that one day, the dream of our great heroes, of a free Tamileelam can be achieved.

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