In December, Sarvodaya and the Batticaloa interfaith council held a Youthful Religious Leaders Workshop in Mangalagama (pictured below) that built interfaith ties between 120 participants: 54 dignitaries and 66 youth leaders from Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian faiths. The participants developed cross-cultural connections through a series of religious exchanges and cooperative dialogues. Mangalagama, a village predominantly home to ethnically Sinhalese Buddhists and situated on the periphery of the Batticoloa and Ampara districts of Sri Lanka, experienced significant turmoil and violence during the Sri Lankan Civil War.
Prior to that, in November, 112 religious leaders in the Trincomalee district—both youth and elders—rehabilitated a local government hospital over the course of four days (photo above left). It was the first time a group had organized this kind of volunteer effort at the hospital. The presence of the interfaith teams made a significant impression on patients, visitors, and hospital staff. The religious leaders cleaned wards; erected new partitions; brought toys, mosquito nets and other supplies; and conducted blessings—together—of some patients. As the psychological and emotional scars of war continue to linger, these public acts of interfaith service build new connections across ethnic and religious divides. They help mitigate inter-ethnic violence in the future and lay groundwork for ongoing reconciliation efforts.