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Caritas Reconciliation Day Programme in Kurunegala

The third in a series of Reconciliation Day Programmes organized by Caritas Sri Lankan SEDEC was held in the Auditorium of Janasetha Caritas Kurunegala recently under the theme "Bringing Hearts and Minds together for National Reconciliation". The event was attended by 91 participants representing Village Peace Committees of Jaffna (Vanni), Kurunegala, Trincomalee, Chilaw and Colombo Dioceses. As in earlier events, participants from different religious and ethnic backgrounds came together for the two-day session held on 25th and 26th August 2016.

The first day of the programme saw the participants being welcomed at a colourful inauguration ceremony which included many aesthetic items. Rev.Fr. Shanthi Kumar Weliwita, National Director of Caritas Sri Lanka SEDEC was the Chief Guest and Buddhists, Hindu and Muslim religious leaders, along with Senior Government Officials of the area, were present on the occasion. Rev. Fr. M. L. Thayaharan, Director of Caritas HUDEC Vanni, Rev. Fr. G. Nithidasan, Director of EHED Caritas Trincomalee and Rev. Fr. Jamika Perera, Director of Caritas Kurunegala also participated with delegates of their respective Dioceses.

Addressing the audience, the Caritas National Director said that religion and religious harmony play a vital role in bringing about national reconciliation in Sri Lanka .

"If we take a family, we can observe how its members live together and work together in a spirit of understanding and cooperation. But if the members of the family begin to act independently, ignoring the support and help of others, then it will not be possible to create a good and happy family life.

In the same way, if people belonging to different religious and ethnic groups within a country begin to think and act independent of each other without demonstrating the spirit of a common bond, then we certainly cannot build peace in such a nation'.

'This consciousness, this longing for oneness, must begin in our own hearts and minds," Fr Weliwita further reiterated, adding that this type of Caritas programs are aimed at bringing people together so that they may learn to accept one another as human beings and value humanity itself, regardless of their differences.

The inauguration ceremony was followed by a cultural event where participants assembled together, holding the symbols of different religions and mingling in solidarity so as to signify the concept of reconciliation at work. They presented songs, dances and dramas that depicted their inner feelings and expressions of war, torment and also their willingness to live in peace and harmony. These performances and improvised dramas showed how much people try to communicate their willingness for reconciliation to others, in spite of what they have gone through in their personal lives during the time of war.

The second day's  program started with a Meditation Session in the morning that focused on why man should overcome his subjectivity and try to work for the betterment of society at large.

This is necessary because our judgements are often shaped by personal opinions and feelings which place limitations on our capacity to open out into a common vision and common bond with the rest of humanity.

Thereafter, two resource persons, namely Mr Aruna Shantha Nonis and Mr Anthony Daniel Jesuthasan conducted sessions in Tamil and Sinhala languages in order to enhance the capacity of the Peace Committee Members and to motivate them further towards the attainment of peace and reconciliation in their communities. They also focused on the challenges faced and the ways to overcome these in order to continue grass root level activities with greater vigour and conviction.

The Reconciliation Day was organized under the guidance of Rev.Fr. Jamika Perera, Director of Janasetha Caritas Kurunegala and his team, along with Caritas Sri Lanka National Centre. It was conducted under a project funded by Caritas Australia and Misereor-Germany with the objective of achieving reconciliation as outlined in  the LLRC Recommendations of 2011.

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