Aal Project

Empowering communities in Sri Lanka affected by war, violence and displacement through community based art projects that bring people together to inspire and nurture a more positive vision of the future.


The Aal Project focuses on empowering communities in Sri Lanka affected by war, violence and displacement through community based art projects that bring people together to inspire and nurture a more positive vision of the future.

We are using art as a medium to bring people together

and rebuild communities in a positive manner.

Aal Project Conceptual Framework


Sri Lanka in the recent past has been ravaged by many decades of civil war, violence and displacement that has imposed trauma, break down of community and lack of economic opportunities. This project is trying to contribute towards creating a more equitable and humane society.

How? "Driven by Local People"

Across 2013 and 2014, Ondru has been working with many local communities, conducted lectures and workshops at the Eastern University, and consulted with the National Peace Council, many educators, artists, healers, nurturers, carers, professionals and people from many walks of life to develop the project.

In January 2014, desh Balasubramaniam (CEO & Artistic Director, Ondru) and Evan Marginson (Chair, Ondru Board) cycled 700km across Sri Lanka from Tangalle to Jaffna to directly engage with local communities and understand the greater needs of the people and the environment with the vision of developing this project.

The following empowerment through arts methodology for the project was developed through local consultations:

Empowerment through arts methodology


What are we doing next?

From 06 - 26 February 2016, seven cyclist representing Ondru from New Zealand and Australia will cycle 1000km across Sri Lanka from Mirissa to Jaffna to raise $50,000 in funds to develop the project. This pilot project will focus on rebuilding and strengthening communities and will be driven by the local communities to inspire positive change.

Aal Fund Raising Campaign    Follow us on Facebook

Aal Cycling Team 2016

Aal Cycling Team 2016

Chris Saunders, Captain

"I've joined Ondru and the Aal riding team as a means of contributing to positive social change. I was inspired by the idea of using art as a common language for bringing people together by promoting thought and breaking down the concept of ‘us’ and ‘them’. The Aal project in particular combines many things that I personally hold dear: purpose, connection, equality, creative solutions, peaceful conflict-resolution and management, big picture thinking, storytelling, understanding, sustainability, exploration, riding my bike and teamwork”. 

Chris is an environmental science and planning professional. He is also a passionate advocate for creativity of all kinds, as well as art and science’s very important role in informing about, maintaining and changing the status quo. Chris is also a keen cyclist and is very much looking forward to the Aal team ride in February 2016. 

Justin Hamman, Vice Captain  

"This will be my largest contribution to Ondru so far and hope to aid in building the foundations for further successful Ondru art projects into Sri Lanka and thereby making a meaningful difference to Sri Lankan and Australian communities. This is very much going to be a trip of a lifetime!  

 Justin is enthusiastic about the Ondru cycle trip, mostly about wearing lycra for 4 weeks but also the amazing friendships and people he hopes to meet along the way. Originally he was born in South Africa, then migrated to New Zealand at age 13 and now lives in Melbourne; so is no stranger to having to adjust to different environments.

Dr. Leonie Sutton 

"I continue to believe in humanity – no matter the odds!" 

Léonie is a General Practitioner who loves connecting with people and understanding the psychological drivers and cultural influences contributing to their experience of health, and life. Outside of healthcare Léonie is an aspiring gardener with a love of nurturing greenery and creating an inspiring home environment. Plants, much like humans, can thrive in the face of adversity and imperfect care!

Dr. Charlotte Reddington 

“I am excited to be involved in Aal – a project that is about community lead empowerment, which can have such a positive impact.”

Charlotte comes from a family of artists and musicians but disappointingly turned out to be a doctor who dabbles in the performing arts. She is also not a natural cyclist, being the only child in grade 3 that couldn’t actually ride a bike during the “bike ed” program. The Project Aal cycle trip is the first stop in Charlotte and her husband Matt’s year of travel in 2016 as they take a break from ‘normal life’ to fuel their passion for adventure and discovery.  

Matt Lynch 

“When I first heard about the Aal Project I became very interested as I love to explore new places, engage with different communities and cultures and cycle – it seemed to be the perfect mix. As I learn more I clearly see the need for such a project to rebuild and bring local communities closer together, with shared hope for the future”.

Matt is a Management Consultant that has worked with numerous organisations across people, process and technology.  He is also developing his creative side through a Travel Photography course with the New York Institute of Photography. As an early supporter of Ondru Matt is excited to finally become more actively involved in one of its projects.  

Sandesh (Bala) Balasubramaniam

"I am proud to be a part of the Aal Project and Ondru as it was founded by my older brother and his passion for humanity and the arts. My attraction to Ondru is not only due to my brother's influence and desire in nurturing positive social change around the globe, but I have always had the passion to make people happy and put a smile on their face. I hope that my contribution in being part of the Aal Project can have a positive impact in lives of people in Sri Lanka who have experienced and survived some of the worst human experiences through the war. I hope we can contribute to filling their souls with happiness, laughter and joy.”

I currently work as a Regional Business Development Manager in the telecommunication industry, focusing on the Asia Pacific region and based in Melbourne. I also have a passion for people and cultures and this job enables me to work with individuals from all over the world, travel to many countries, understand the complexities of diverse markets and create solutions for successful business ventures.   

With desh Balasubramaniam, CEO & Artistic Director, Ondru




Sound of Silence (Sri Lanka) - Photography by Shelley Morris / Aal Cycling Team 2016 - Photography by Vanessa Doake