Mangayarkarasi Amirthalingam was born in Moolai, Vaddukoddai, Jaffna in 1933. At twelve years old, she enrolled in Ramanathan College – founded by early Tamil political leader Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan – to study music.
Sinthujan Varatharajah was born in a refugee camp in Coburg, Germany in 1985. His parents fled Sri Lanka in the early 1980s, and, through a chance meeting with a German couple in the Jaffna hotel where his father worked, chose Germany as their destination.
Ambica Selvaraj was born in a multicultural neighbourhood in Colombo in April 1951. Though she spoke Tamil at home and in school, she spent most of her childhood in the company of Sinhalese and English-speaking children, unaware of the issues that would become so salient later on.