As part of Karuna Center's 20th Anniversary year—connecting with our past, and looking ahead to build the future—we recently interviewed our dear colleague Mossarat Qadeem. Mossarat founded the Paiman Alumni Trust (www.paimantrust.org) a Pakistani peacebuilding and community empowerment organization. With Paiman, Mossarat established the country’s first center for conflict transformation and peacebuilding.
A year ago, the Central African Republic was on the brink of disaster. Muslim militias from the north had led a 2013 coup d’état that resulted in organized killing and violence, primarily against Christian civilians. Christian militias formed and began brutal revenge attacks upon the Muslim minority, displacing hundreds of thousands of people through ethnic cleansing campaigns. Since independence, Christians and Muslims had more or less peacefully coexisted, though the Christian majority held more political power and Muslim merchants controlled lucrative trades. The country had never seen civilians massacred on the streets solely because of their religious identity, and was in a state of shock.
The Sinhala Buddhist village of Karagahawewa is a post-war community in the district of Trincomalee, Sri Lanka—an area that was heavily affected by the 26-year civil war. On three sides of the village there is thick jungle. There are 800 families living there, all Sinhala Buddhists. Although there used to be close connections between the Sinhalese in Karagahawewa and the Tamil people in neighboring communities, this changed completely as the war between Tamil separatist fighters and the Sinhala-led national army escalated. Both Sinhala and Tamil communities were driven from their homes, and the friendly relationships that had existed between them broke down.
Karuna in the World is your link to our work around the globe. Check back often to read our inspiring stories or subscribe to our email list to have them sent directly to your email inbox!