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"This is the moment for reconciliation", says Bishop of Badulla at Caritas Reconciliation Day

"Every nation which experienced progress and human development after a period of conflict was able to do so only by facing up to the situation in a spirit of compassion and with a determination to succeed, as well as through creative approaches towards finding a solution. Therefore, let us join forces with hope to build a new nation through reconciliation. Now is the moment for it", said His Lordship the Bishop of Badulla, Rt Rev Dr Winston Fernando in his address as Chief Guest at the "Caritas Reconciliation Day" held recently in Passara (Badulla Diocese).

Nearly 125 members of Village Peace Committees and Volunteers representing all ethnic and religious groups from the Dioceses of Batticaloa, Galle, Ratnapura and Badulla participated in the 2-day program held on 11th & 12th 2016 and conducted under the "Project to Promote Healing and Reconciliation" which is supported by Caritas Australia and Misereor-Germany. The event was arranged under the guidance of Rev Fr Priyalal Cooray, Director of Caritas Badulla USCOD, and the inauguration ceremony on the first day saw the participation of Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim religious leaders as well, along with senior Government officials of the area.

In a message delivered on the occasion, Mr Yu Hwa Li, Senior Executive Manager of Caritas Sri Lanka SEDEC National Centre said that though reconciliation cannot be achieved in a day or two, the Caritas peace initiative over the past few years has set the stage for bringing together large numbers of people from different backgrounds as a primary step and this by itself could pave the way for a larger process that will permeate upwards from the grass roots. When ordinary citizens begin to build understanding and trust among themselves, a people’s movement for peace takes shape which will eventually complement and supplement the reconciliation moves undertaken at a higher level by the Government and by civil society organizations, Mr Li pointed out.

The awareness-raising sessions held in Tamil and Sinhala languages during the two days of the program focused mainly on the actions which the participants could take at village level to strengthen the healing and reconciliation process across all parts of the country and across the barriers of ethnicity and religion. The awareness sessions were also accompanied by cultural items presented by the participants themselves in such a way as to demonstrate their appreciation of each other’s cultures and traditions.