At the 7th Annual Global Nonviolence Conference, Detroit, Michigan, USA, a reception and dinner was held on April 17, 2005 to honor this year’s recipients of the prestigious Global Peace Award for “outstanding contribution to nonviolent social change and peacemaking”.
The Global Nonviolence Conference Chair, Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr. and Co-Chair, the Honorable Andrew Young are former members of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Executive Staff and it has been their goal to continue his vision of the “Beloved Community”. They cited Dr. Ariyaratne for his, “accomplishment of promoting the principles of sharing, compassion, self-sufficiency, constructive action, truthful communication, equality, democracy and community in Sri Lanka.”
Following the tsunami, which destroyed 226 Sarvodaya villages, Dr. Ariyaratne was unable to attend this year’s Global Nonviolence Conference. Sarvodaya USA Board of Directors member, David Capraro, received the Award on his behalf.
From Dr. Ariyaratne’s Acceptance Statement:
“I am honored to be recognized in the same breath as such auspicious company, especially so, because the Global Peace Award is in the name of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and those who have dedicated themselves to his vision of the “Beloved Community”.
I humbly accept this Global Peace Award on behalf of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement – the millions of villagers in 15,000 of Sri Lanka’s 30,000 villages, who, despite great odds, are steadily building toward our beloved community; toward the awakening of one and all through sharing, self-reliance and building communities on a foundation of universal values.”
Sarvodaya was well represented at the Award ceremony with several friends of Sarvodaya in Metro Detroit including Dr. Harsha Jayatilake a practicing physician and Secretary of the Sri Lanka Medical Association of North America, which organization has played a significant role in providing medical services, supplies and funds for reconstruction following the tsunami. Dr. Jayitalake was also a Sarvodaya volunteer as a teenager in Sri Lanka; Rev. Cheryl Myhand, Chairwoman of Detroit’s Hunger Action Coalition who is also an Ambassador of Sarvodaya; Ven. Dharmananda Bhikku of Detroit’s International Peace Monastery; Ven. Chuen Phangcham, Ph.D., Founder of the Midwest Buddhist Meditation Center; and environmental activist Claire O’Leary.
Among this year’s other Global Peace Award recipients were: Arun Gandhi, Ph.D. President of the M.K. Institute for Nonviolence; Marian Wright Edelman, Founder of the Children’s Defense Fund; the Honorable Tadatoshi Akiba, Mayor of Hiroshima, Japan who has organized 763 “Mayors for Peace” in 110 countries; Delores Huerta, Co-Founder with Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers; and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.