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As a follow-up of the healing and reconciliation work implemented in 24 villages under the Social Justice and Sustainable Peace Program of Caritas Sri Lanka, a group of 80 youth from several Dioceses gathered for three days at a camp held at Bandarawela Holiday Resort from 24th to 26th June 2014.
These young people are from marginalized and underprivileged communities in 12 villages of Tamil-speaking areas and 12 of Sinhala-speaking areas . The villages had been linked during the last two years by a program to Promote Healing and Reconciliation, and a number of these residents had undertaken exposure visits to each other’s localities where they had “live-in” experiences by staying with host families. They also learnt each other’s languages for better communication and this facilitated easy interactions through which they were able to build bridges of understanding and trust. There were also noticeable attitudinal changes among the participants of these exchange visits.
The camp in Bandarawela was aimed at empowering the youth to become agents of peace and to help create harmonious environments in their areas of dwelling.
While the camp provided opportunities for the youth to reinforce friendship and cordiality through joint activities, fun and games, they also attended several awareness sessions and group work on the role of youth in modern society, their dreams and aspirations, the challenges faced by them and, importantly, the principles of Peace Ambassadorship. The participants also prepared a 3-month action plan which would see their initiation as peace makers.
Speaking at the inauguration of the camp, Rev Fr George Sigamoney, National Director of Caritas Sri Lanka welcomed the youth to this unique experience and exhorted them to rise to their true potential as change- makers of the future.