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September 21, 2008

Sarvodaya Dedicates the Peace Resource Centre to the Trincomalee Community with a Massive Peace Meditation


Trincomalee is inhabited by a population of Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim ethnic groups. Due to the hard physical and psychological experiences of decades of war, the ethno-social tension in Trincomalee is high. With its holistic approach to finding a long lasting solution to ethnic conflict that would heal our society, Sarvodaya – the most widely located community based organization in Sri Lanka – has identified a number of key areas to be addressed. It has done so on the basis of its experience of five decades of social development work in Sri Lanka. Language and communication barriers among various ethnic groups, inadequate Resource and materials to study peace, lack of peace building, failure of conflict transformation knowledge transfer to the grassroots, lack of opportunities and safe places among young people for meetings and discussions – all of these hinder ethnic harmony and social cohesion. Elders suffer from inadequate opportunities for sustainable livelihood, while the youth suffers from lack of vocational training and career guidance. Most importantly the significance of spiritual awakening and of creating inner peace in order to establish long lasting peace among communities has, in the past, been ignored by most of the parties who have sought a solution to the conflict. The Peace Resource Centre in Trincomalee is one of the series of ten Peace Resource Centres established by Sarvodaya along its Axis of Unity across Sri Lanka, which extends from Trincomalee to Matara. The Peace Resource Centre at Trincomalee effectively addresses these issues and acts as a long term investment to serve all the communities in the district regardless of any ethnic, religious, and gender barriers. Additionally the Centre provides a prime opportunity for skill building in areas such as Information Technology and knowledge management. Especially in Trincomalee the need for libraries, IT and vocational training facilities which are accessible to all is crucial, since communities are not provided with such facilities within their reach. Generally the Sarvodaya premises throughout the country, especially the Peace Resource Centres, are considered as ‘safe ground’ for local communities and this facility brings great relief for the people in Trincomalee as a community facility available to everyone.

Lanka Jathika Sarvodaya Shramadana Sangamaya will hand over this great facility to the nation and the community of Trincomalee on this International Day of Peace which is marked on 21st September, 2008. Thousands of peace loving people will march to Trincomalee city on this day and will attend a mass peace meditation to demonstrate their commitment to peace and to wish peace to all people in Sri Lanka and the world. In parallel with this occasion in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne, the founder of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement will lead a mass meditation campaign in Detroit, Michigan, U. S. A. under the theme ‘One Peace’. This will be one of the largest peace meditations in U. S. history, attended by thousands of international peace lovers.

The components of the Trincomalee Sarvodaya Peace Resource Centre include the following. A high quality peace library contains information on the Sri Lankan peace process, conflict resolution and interrelated strategies promulgated by the Sarvodaya Movement through out its history. Subject areas include law, culture and economy, the rights of women and children, personal development and leadership as well as education from early childhood to adulthood. The language laboratory bridges many of the perceived differences between the North and the South. It is established in the form of a self-learning language centre with modern equipment and is facilitated by trained local volunteers who are fluent in the Sinhala, Tamil and English languages. Sarvodaya is currently exploring partnership possibilities with universities and language training institutes around globe for English language instructors to assist the language laboratory of the Peace Resource Centre. The computer laboratory provides facilities for IT training for youth and also serves as a resource for social networking beyond regional and national boundaries. The lecture and conference hall facilities are used for vocational training and for enhancing capacities in the areas of peace building and conflict transformation. The vocational training courses include masonry, carpentry, motor mechanics, computer software and hardware, beauty culture, and much else. A blend of Eastern and Western methods of conflict transformation and peace building is taught to village leaders and youth. In addition, events such as seminars and workshops which promote friendly interaction through dialogue and respect for cultural diversity, are held at the Centre, which has dining and residential facilities for 60 persons at a time. Interfaith and inter-communal activities are given priority. At the same time the facility is used for psycho-spiritual renewal and healing through meditation. This is something that Sarvodaya pioneered and its unique approach has become famous. 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 promotes harmony, social cohesion and proactive peace building.
The fully equipped Trincomalee Sarvodaya Peace Resource Centre was made possible by generous financial support from the Province of Upper Austria, the Province of Burgenland and IICP of Austria, the Wilde Ganzen Foundation of the Netherlands and Sarvodaya-Netherlands.

Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement for the People in Need.