Two prestigious awards have recognised the pioneering peacebuilding work of Dishani Jayaweera, co-founder of our Sri Lankan partners, the Centre for Peacebuilding and Reconciliation (CPBR).
Sri Lanka is a country of rich cultural and religious diversity. But sadly, people from different religious communities have found themselves divided by conflicts across the country for the past three decades.
Yet the CPBR have long understood that instead of dividing people, religion can be a powerful force for bringing communities together.
Their pioneering peacebuilding work trains religious leaders in conflict transformation skills and encourages dialogue between the different religious and ethnic groups of Sri Lanka.
In the video below Dishani talks about her approach and why she thinks addressing religion in Sri Lanka is an important step toward achieving peace.
The impact of Dishani’s peacebuilding work was recognised in March with the New York-based Tanenbaum Centre naming her as this year’s Peacemaker in Action.
This award is presented to ‘religiously motivated women and men working for peace in the world’s most dangerous conflicts zones’. To qualify, peacebuilders must be working on the ground in their communities. A large part of this award also acknowledges the risks inherent in this hands-on approach.
This award sees Dishani join the Tanenbaum Peacemakers’ Network, an extraordinary group of inspirational individuals who tirelessly operate in conflict zones – not for personal recognition, but to bring peace to their communities.
Also in march, Dishani was shortlisted for the Coexist Prize by The Coexist Foundation, a religious charity in the USA.
This award celebrates the positive role that religion can play in peacebuilding, and aims to showcase inspiring stories from around the world.
The Coexist Foundation say they shortlisted Dishani ‘because of her exceptional work with Sri Lanka’s diverse religious communities’. They praised the way she has used religious teachings ‘to bring together the various faith leaders, and replaced violence with peaceful negotiation in a way that is both remarkable and admirable’.
Dishani was selected from over 200 applicants for the prize, to make the shortlist of six. The prize-giving will take place in New York.
With characteristic modesty, Dishani has insisted that: “This prize isn’t about me it’s about all of us at the CPBR. We want to share this news with you with gratitude and respect. All of you supported us to walk in this journey in different ways in different times.”