Sri Lanka

The Healing Power of Music

The "Parallel Versing" programme creatively brought together school children that are geographically apart.

Developed in 2012 by Shalini Wickramasuriya & Darren Ferguson the project used music to change the life trajectory of children whose quality of life has been impacted by the legacy of conflict in Northern Ireland & Sri Lanka. The project uses music and video production as a tool for diversity & global education.

In Sri Lanka children from different communities were brought together and taught an instrument to be part of an Orchestra.  

The Parallel Versing project linked with Northern Ireland started in 2013 designed and delivered by the organisations Beyond Skin and The Music Project (Sri Lanka) with a start-up investment from the Esufally Family Foundation. 2014-2017 investments from Arts Council NI, Arts & Business, Belfast Harbour, Local Councils and IBIS Belfast Hotel assisted the growth of the project.. 

The Music Project provided a music education for children of rural Sri Lanka aiming to build orchestral communities between the children of the north & south, thereby providing a platform of reconciliation through music

Themes within the project: Community Relations - Diversity, Equality & Global Education – Citizenship – Music Composition & Video Production skills – Self-Confidence & Aspiration – Language & Communication skills.


The world is changing fast due to globalisation, environmental impacts and technology advances; and children today need to be equipped not to just survive but thrive in this diverse world.
The legacy of conflict in Northern Ireland has presented many challenges and sharing these with people who have faced similar challenges but within a very different cultural context can present opportunities for growth and learning. Social media & the internet in some ways does provide a door to a wider world, but this project brings a realness to connecting with our global neighbours in the comfort of your own school or youth club. Combined with the innovative, creative element of this project as children produce music with each other 5,000 km apart, the classroom became an exciting global shared learning space that both children & teachers enjoyed immensely.

Arts Council NI Narrative Report

Healing through harmonies NearFM documentary podcast & video

Participating Schools Sri Lanka
Lakdas de Mel College, Kurunegala, Mallavi Central College, Mullaitivu, Pothubowa Maha Vidyalaya, Muwathagama, Wayamba Jayashanka College, Kurunegala, Yohapuram MV, Mullaitivu, St Johns Colombo

Participating Schools Northern Ireland
Erne College Enniskillen, Fairview Primary School, Limavady High School, St Patricks & St Brigids Claudy, St Brigids Ballymena, St Patrick’s College Dungannon, Nettlefield Primary School, Holy Family Primary Omagh, Omagh County Primary School

Participating Clubs/Groups
Ballycastle Youth Club, John Paul Youth Club, Ballyearl Summer Scheme, Fortwilliam Youth Club, Include Youth (Newtownards), Rasharkin Residents Group, NI Childrens Hospice (Newtownabbey), Ballykeel Defenders Flute Band, Neillsbrook Community Centre Randalstown, Glengormley Pavilion Youth Group, Ballyclare Presbyterian Church Youth Club, Millgreen Youth Centre Bawnmore