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December 28, 2007

Peace Resource Centre Inaugurated




A new Centre to promote peace in the Eastern part of Sri Lanka was inaugurated on the day of 3rd Tsunami anniversary (26th of December 2007) at the Sarvodaya District Centre in Trincomallee

The Sarvodaya Peace Resource Centre Trincomallee, the construction of which was sponsored by the Province of Upper Austria and IICP, will serve as a focal point for promoting inter-community and inter-religious harmony and capacity building in non-violent conflict transformation. This unique Centre consists of the following.

High Quality Library

The library will contain information on the Sri Lankan peace process, conflict resolution and interrelated strategies promulgated by the Sarvodaya Movement. Subject areas will include the rights of women and children, legal, cultural and economic issues, personal development and leadership as well as education from early childhood through adulthood.

Language laboratory

Shared language and understanding are integral factors in bringing races together. Clearly, when parties are at odds, misunderstanding compounds the risk of violence. In fact, Sarvodaya’s experience has shown that language can bridge many of the perceived differences between the North and the South, Tamils and Sinhalese, Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Buddhists. Our proposal is not to establish a comprehensive curriculum for language fluency, at least in the initial stages. Rather, the intention is to provide openings for interpersonal interaction between parties which were previously estranged. Teaching children and youth can set the stage for a more harmonious future.

The proposed language laboratory would take the form of a self-learning center where anyone could use resources such as books, papers, and audio-visual aids to improve language skills. Selected local volunteers with spoken Tamil and Sinhala language capabilities will be trained in techniques pioneered by Sarvodaya in the North and East, with assistance from recognized language educators. Sarvodaya has learned, for example, that a three-day orientation for teachers can adequately prepare them for teaching introductory 10 month course consisting of two hours every Saturday and Sunday. Classes of 25 or more children work well. Adult classes may include fewer students.

English instruction will be offered using the latest information technology and English as a Second Language (ESL) curricula. Sarvodaya is now exploring partnerships with several universities and language training institutes in the United States in order to develop a continuing source of competent instructors.

Training and Capacity Building to Promote conflict transformation and peace building

A blend of Eastern and Western methods of conflict transformation and peace building will be taught to village leaders and youth. Equally important, friendly interaction through dialogue, seminars and workshops will be facilitated at the Centre. Interfaith and inter-communal activities will be given priority. Techniques proven effective by the Sarvodaya Legal Services Movement’s recent programmes and other curricula will be applied in Trincomalee. The Centre will serve as both on-site host and outreach facilitator for training in villages themselves.

Facilitate psycho-spiritual renewal and healing of individuals and groups. Establish a system for expansion and replication of meditation programmes.

As evidenced by its mass peace meditations throughout the country, in prisons, schools and more recently with pregnant women, Sarvodaya always stresses the need for inner peace to facilitate outer peace. By bringing together people of different religious faiths for dialogue and meditation, the Centre will promote harmony and proactive peace building.

Ms.Gudrun Kramer, the Director of IICP, Austria and Dr.Vinya Ariyaratne, the Executive Director of Sarvodaya declared open the centre in the presence of a large gathering of people belonging to representing Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities.

Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement for the People in Need.