In January of this year floods hit Sri Lanka, more than one million people were affected. The region most badly hit was Batticaloa – a largely Tamil area that had been at the centre of fighting in the last years of the civil war.
After 26 years of war Sri Lankan community is still largely divided along ethnic and religious lines. Local peacebuilder Dishani Jayaweera has been working with young people and religious leaders for the past five years, to unite communities and prevent the mistakes of the past reoccuring by building connections and understanding between groups.
As the floods hit Batticaloa, it was these connections that the people called upon to help them when they most needed it.
Dishani’s project trains young people and religious leaders in conflict management – to promote tolerance and understanding. The project involves 238 young people and 290 religious leaders. Together they have become a network of peacebuilders creating a united future.
Following the success of a Religious Tolerance workshop in March, the Young Visionaries (YV) team decided to host another. A highly successful national workshop was organised, directed at younger children from across Sri Lanka’s ethnic and religious divides.
The YVs hosted the Children’s Aesthetics Camp in in Anuradapura. Two-hundred children aged between 12-16 spent three days taking part in artistic activities such as drama, music and painting, working together with children of all religious, cultural and regional backgrounds.
The aim of the event was to promote religious tolerance amongst young people in Sri Lanka. It also went some way to lessen the trauma many of these children were left with after the floods. Religious clergy from across the divides were strong supporters of the national workshop, helping to organise and promote the event from the start.
It costs £38 for one young visionary to attend a workshop that will equip them with the skills to make a difference in their communities – make a gift today and you can help them