PREPARING FOR PEACE: LEADERSHIP TRAINING FOR DIALOGUE AND RECONCILIATION (2003-2005)

Sri Lanka

Summary

This two-year training-of-trainers program mentored 25 participants to lead their own reconciliation projects for all sectors of society. Participants, who represented all ethnic groups and regions of Sri Lanka, were also mentored in designing and facilitating peacebuilding workshops for area residents. During the course of the program, participants created projects that they led in multi-ethnic teams.

About the Program

From 2003-05, Karuna Center led a two-year training-of-trainers program for 25 participants who were mentored in leading their own reconciliation projects for all sectors of society, supported by a grant from the United States Institute of Peace. Seminars sequentially covered a comprehensive curriculum in conflict analysis, conflict interventions, and the facilitation of programs in inter-ethnic dialogue and reconciliation. To broaden the group’s collective understanding of Sri Lanka’s many regional challenges and differences, each seminar included exposure to the particular problems of a particular region and to local development and peacebuilding efforts. Participants, who represented all ethnic groups and regions of Sri Lanka, were also mentored in designing and facilitating peacebuilding workshops for area residents. During the course of the program, participants created projects that they led in multi-ethnic teams. These included:

  • Peacebuilding through CEFE (Competency-based Economics through the Formation of Enterprises), a program for unemployed Tamil and Muslim youth from the Northeast
  • The Social Harmony Project, a program that created peace brigades to intervene in conflicts at the University of Sri Jayawardhenapura Medical School and surrounding community
  • Dialogues for Sinhalese, Tamil, and Muslim religious leaders
  • Post-tsunami “cash for work” programs jointly involving Tamil and Muslim villagers with previously strained relations
  • Dialogue training for youth field workers who, in turn, started community level dialogues for other youth
  • Post-tsunami restoration of public spaces through the cooperative efforts of Tamil and Sinhalese youth.

Participants also worked with Karuna Center staff to develop a peacebuilding training manual that won a USIP best practices award and has been translated into Tamil and Sinhalese and widely distributed. Fifteen of the 25 original participants attended a follow-up event three years later. All had maintained their commitment to peacebuilding activities in Sri Lanka, working through a variety of organizations for an end to violent conflict and a just peace.

Articles

Preparing for Peace: Interethic Dialogue and Communal Healing in Sri Lanka

Article by Olivia Stokes Dreier and Dr. Paula Green (2003)

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