With the strong support of our Sri Lankan partner Sarvodaya, our Inter-Religious Cooperation for Community Development and Social Empowerment program has truly come into its own. As of December 31, 2012, over 7,000 community members have participated in 44 inter-faith/inter-ethnic community projects and related events, well above program targets. In recent months, the projects’ leaders have made a strong effort to make their joint work publicly visible, both in the eyes of their respective communities and by district officials. Their push for visibility has included visiting each
other’s projects and openly worshipping in each other’s religious sanctuaries during events associated with the community projects.
Most recently, workshops designed to engage the Sri Lankan youth in our peacebuilding work were held in Batticaloa, Trincomalee, and Padaviya. The participant’s youthful enthusiasm brought fresh energy to the program. They are more outspoken than their elders and more easily ready to bridge ethnic divides. Another recent achievement was the collection of “rescue stories,” stories of those who protected members of another faith/ethnic group during the years of conflict, often at risk to their own safety. These stories will be edited and published in multi-lingual pamphlets. Other upcoming publications include a children’s book with peace stories from all four-faith groups and an inter-faith peacebuilding training guide, translated into both Tamil and Sinhalese, that can be used for future inter-faith workshops and programs involving peacebuilding and reconciliation. As this program comes to a close, we look forward to the upcoming national conference on inter-faith peacebuilding and the knowledge-sharing symposium with our core group of 80 Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian religious leaders. Karuna Center is grateful to USAID and Tetra-Tech ARD for their support of this program.