YouLead Digital Campaign Reaches 1.5 Million Viewers


Geography, economic class, poor access to information, and cultural or parental preferences, frequently combined, leave youth in Sri Lanka with little independent choice in their educational or career paths. As a result, they are in the habit of passively accepting the career outcome that unfolds for them based on their environment and circumstances. To address this, IESC’s USAID-funded youth employment and entrepreneurship project, YouLead, launched a digital campaign encouraging youth to take charge of their future education and career choices through YouLead’s transformative tools and services.

The campaign leveraged conversations on popular youth social media groups to first build the myth of ‘Kalumal Pokuna,’ a mysterious and elusive pond which magically transforms anyone who dips in its water instantly into the successful person they were meant to be. Unfortunately, the pond also attracts a terrifying Gaur, a mythical South Asian creature, that wants the pond all to itself.

Curiosity was so piqued within two weeks that youth were actively posting about the myth on their own pages and ‘Kalumal Pokuna’ was trending as a keyword on Google.

Hot on the heels of this heightened level of interest, YouLead shared two highly engaging video stories featuring a trio of young people with different career dreams traveling in search of Kalumal Pokuna. The videos were shared on YouLead’s YouTube channel and Facebook page on March 3, 2021 and effectively debunked the myth of Kalumal Pokuna, conveying the message that success can only be achieved by taking initiative on their own.

“A timely message to our society. ‘Epic’ video!” (‘patta’, in local slang).  – Facebook post, Devanjana Deshan, youth from Kandy

Beginning with 437,000 video views in just 24 hours, the campaign went viral and reached more than 3.5 million social media users, predominantly in the 18-35 age group. The two videos received 1.5 million views and generated over 5,000 conversations and shares by the end of March 2021. Timed to coincide with the relaunch of the YouLead Career Bus, those viewing the videos were directed to take the first step in determining their future career paths by visiting the Career Bus to receive career guidance and counseling.

“We watched the videos in the Career Bus, and learned that we can achieve anything, if we make the effort and try!”  

– Video recording, students of St. Xaviers Girls College, Chinnakkadai, Mannar

Kalumal Pokuna is part of a larger sustained effort to help change the status quo and create a youth mindset that is proactive and more receptive to the transformative tools and services that USAID and the YouLead project make possible. YouLead will continue to apply the combination of engaging and thought-provoking content and finely tuned innovative digital tactics to take advantage of the evolving media consumption patterns and online behavior of youth to further build on the tremendous level of engagement created by this campaign.

The two videos with English subtitles can be viewed here:

Career Guidance:



 YouLead is an $18 million project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. IESC implements the project in partnership with international partner Global Communities along with local partners the American Chamber of Commerce, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Skills for Life, and Verité Research.

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