Oppuravilam Center for Peace and Justice

Sri Lanka’s ethnic and religious divisions are complex and deep-seated. The 26-year civil war was an outgrowth of a history of ethnic conflict – not a situation where one side was the devil and the other the angel. There were enormous combatant civilian losses and casualties, the majority affecting Tamils with Sinhalese and Muslims also suffering. Since the war ended with a violent defeat of the Tamil Tigers in 2009, the expected ‘peace’ has not materialized. The need to build trust and collaboration across ethnic communities has not been addressed, and there have been growing religious tensions. Throughout these past decades of conflict, there have been some faith leaders, primarily clergy, from Sri Lanka’s four religions – Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity – working for conflict resolution, justice, and peace. Diocese of Colombo’s Social Action unit will build on the underutilized platform of faith communities and other sources of resilience. The proposed three-year project will engage faith leaders, particularly lay leaders, and members to expand their role in peacebuilding, developing their skills and a network for action – focused on sources of grievances and people’s current priorities. Clergy and lay leaders can be effective agents of peace, influencing the attitudes of the members of their faith institutions. They will serve as catalysts in their communities to work for social change on shared problems. The project’s goal is transform relationships between and among ethnic and religious groups through working together to create a peaceful and just society in which people respect differences and support equal treatment of all. There are three objectives: 1) Support dialogue and collaborative work toward shared goals with faith leaders and members from conflicting ethnic groups to resolve priority justice and community development problems. 2) Increase understanding of rights and conflict mediation and access to these services provided by trained volunteers, for faith leaders, members and their communities. 3) Facilitate healing of trauma, restoration of dignity and empowerment with war-affected individuals, especially women, through multi-ethnic reconciliation workshops. The program is a joint collaboration between the Diocese, Episcopal Relief & Development, Us (formerly USPG) and Lambeth Palace (Reconciliation Desk).

Activities

Train 6 community-level volunteers to serve as conflict mediator and rights vindicators, Establish, train and equip community level peace building groups, Identify shared community issues and conduct issue forums to realize community-led action plans, Facilitate healing of trauma, restoration of dignity and empowerment with war-affected individuals, especially women, through multi-ethnic workshops, Faciltiate Trauma Workshops for clergy and lay leaders in helping positions between provinces

Cross-cutting issues

Disaster Risk Reduction, Institution Strengthening

Locations

  • Sri Lanka>Southern
  • Sri Lanka>Uva

Sectors

  • Conflict Prevention and Resolution/Peace and Security

Other projects