We are excited to share a report from Sri Lanka about a cultural exchange on May 14 of this year—which brought together 350 people from diverse communities throughout the island's Northeast. The event was the latest in a series of efforts Karuna Center has been co-organizing with Sarvodaya Shanti Sena Sansadaya and an interfaith group of grassroots religious leaders. Each of the ethnic/religious groups present—Sinhala Buddhists, Tamil Hindus, Sri Lankan Muslims, and Christians—has been deeply affected by the 26-year Sri Lankan Civil War, but in different ways.
As part of Karuna Center's 20th Anniversary year—connecting with our past, and looking ahead to build the future—we recently interviewed Dishani Jayaweera, a Sri Lankan peacebuilder who we have been blessed to count as a friend and colleague over the past 15 years. Dishani is Director of Programs for the Centre for Peacebuilding and Reconciliation: Home for Diversity (CPBR), an NGO in Sri Lanka she co-founded after participating in Karuna Center programs. With her leadership, CPBR has grown to engage thousands of people in Sri Lankan communities in initiatives to build a more just and peaceful future.
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.
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