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The importance of people to people contact in promoting understanding, amity and reconciliation is underscored by the inter-diocesan exposures which have taken place in the past two years on the initiative of Caritas Sri Lanka SEDEC and its Diocesan Centres. The dioceses have been "linked" under a program to Promote Healing and Reconciliation.
In the 4-month period March-June this year alone, 16 inter-diocesan exposures had been undertaken by groups of residents of villages in Kandy, Jaffna, Chilaw, Vanni, Badulla, Colombo, Ratnapura, Mannar, Trincomalee, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Kurunegala, Batticaloa and Galle. Numbering an average of 50 in each group, they experienced the joys and benefits of visits to colleagues who live in different locations under varying socio-economic and cultural realities. Yet, they shared a common desire to build human bonds with others and to share their experiences. During these visits, they stayed in the houses of their hosts, cooked meals together, participated in intercultural programs and spent valuable time sharing with each other their griefs, anxieties and aspirations. Tamils and Sinhalese began to accept each other in a new spirit of understanding and brotherhood. In fact, many who were from traditional villages had never before been exposed to such interactions and had even harboured mistrust and suspicion about the "other".
The Program to Promote Healing and Reconciliation is being implemented by Caritas Sri Lanka SEDEC with the active support and cooperation of the relevant Diocesan Directors and their staff. The participants in this program who undertook long journeys outside their own areas, have also shown great enthusiasm in being partners of this bridge building effort.