Reconciliation? Diaspora Lanka Projects
With the intention of reconciling ethnic, religious and geographic divides, we as members of the Sri Lankan diaspora have embarked upon a journey to find genuine home-grown pathways to reconciliation that are people and context sensitive. The journey is taking us on paths less travelled. Here are three examples of our reconciliation work:
Surprisingly, developing a new town plan for Mannar City in Northern Sri Lanka has become a major reconciliation project and a robust ‘container’ for holding the conflicts that need to happen on many levels. Recently meetings were held at which over forty people expressed hurt, anger and criticism on the surface while just below the fault lines, a new reality was unfolding. They represented national, provincial and local government, the military, local technical experts, telecom, water and drainage, electricity board, roads, residents, religious leaders. The various players were actually talking to each other and making plans to rectify intractable issues for the sake of a better Mannar. The work of reconciliation was inadvertently happening.
Amity Mannar, a group of young people aged between 18 and 30, gather to form a counter-force to the divisive politics of particular civic leaders. The regular weekend programs incorporate fun, address vocational issues (education and unemployment) and build the peace and conflict resolution capacity of the youngsters to fight the good fight. Interaction across gender, ethnic, religious and geographic lines is creating the foundation of a new civic consciousness.
Women: Village backbone
Aimed primarily at providing livelihood for women-headed households from three villages, many who are war-widows, this project has experienced many ups and downs. Issues of caste, ethnicity and religion divide the villages. We are assisting them through a rice milling operation across the villages so merely create the conditions for their interaction over the long term, in hope of an increasingly reconciled polity with a sound livelihood.
Director, Diaspora Lanka
Resident, Armagh Spiritual Community