Peacebuilding in Sri Lanka: Creating harmony in war-torn communities
Ordinary Sri Lankans are dying in their hundreds every day, children and babies among them Many more have been evicted from their homes 12 times. They’re caught in a civil war that has dragged on for decades. Conflict has robbed the country of being an economic and tourist jewel. It has sowed disharmony among the people.
Agnes Jogarani lost her son in Sri Lanka’s war, which has been raging for over 25 years and in which an estimated 70,000 people have been killed.
Agnes Jogarani lost her son in Sri Lanka’s war, which has been raging for over 25 years and in which an estimated 70,000 people have been killed. She also lost her home and her family was thrown into poverty by the violence in the mid-1980s.
“The conflict and the poverty it caused made my family very isolated in society,” says Mrs Jogarani. “It has been a very traumatic experience for me and my five children.”
One day, Caritas peace animators came to Sampalthivu, the village where Mrs Jogarani had resettled near Trincomalee. As a result of their assessments, they tried to encourage her to take part in counselling sessions.
Initially reluctant, she eventually came round to the idea after Caritas staff continued to visit her.
“I had been displaced in 1985 and 1990 and I was under mental stress due to my losses and the continuing violence,” says Mrs Jogarani.
Once Mrs Jogarani had received some counselling, Caritas staff persuaded her to take part in peacebuilding training activities. She decided that after all the war in her life, she wanted to focus on finding a way to live in harmony with herself and other people.
Caritas staff taught the villagers about peaceful co-existence and raised awareness about non-violent communication. They used peacebuilding activities to teach the villagers how to rebuild their lives.
“After the training I was able to transform my mind to think more positively about life and coexistence in the society,” says Jogarani.
She is now working for peace in her village and leads a peace group named the “White Rose”. She uses the peacebuilding training she received to help many other people change their lives in terms of non-violent behaviour and peaceful coexistence. She says that the training has led to positive changes in her life.
Besides helping other people live with Sri Lanka’s war, Mrs Jogarani has two jobs. She helps prepare midday meals for schoolchildren and she also works on an onion farm.
Caritas also provides money each month to send her daughter to school. By sending Sri Lanka’s children to school and teaching its adults how to build peace, it is hoped that fewer and fewer of Sri Lanka’s children will suffer.
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