A suite of projects leading to weekly meetings with members of the Australian Sri Lankan diaspora towards healing and renewal in Sri Lanka: discovering ways of working together on everyday activities in spite of conflict.
Reconciliation Exchanges 2010 and 2011
The initial key partners in the project were Global Reconciliation, the Foundation of Goodness, Sri Lanka, the Australian Football League, Sri Lanka Unites and bluestone Edge.
The projects were implemented in three overlapping phases:
• Phase I: Establishment of structures, identification of participants, formation of processes and tools to support governance, capacity development and mentoring;
• Phase II: Establishment of engagements between sportspeople and reconciliation practitioners and local communities to foster mutual learning and project development and implementation;
• Phase III: Visits between Sri Lanka and Australia of members of the sporting and reconciliation communities.
The activities in Phases I and II were able to draw on the extensive prior experience of Global Reconciliation and the other partners. As the first Phase III activity a visit to Sri Lanka by a group of high profile Australian footballers, including Adam Goodes and several players of Indigenous background, took place in October 2010. Participants attended briefing sessions on the nature of reconciliation, Sri Lankan politics and culture, and the experiences of the tsunami and the reconstruction process.
Engaging with Communities and Revivifying Civil Society for Change Workshop, Colombo, August, 2012
In August 2012 Global Reconciliation, with friends and members of the Australian Sri Lankan diaspora, successfully brought together more than 80 individuals representing an inclusive
range of Sri Lankan organizations, religions, views and opinions, some inevitably conflicting with others. The workshop was the first step in the establishment of an open, growing coalition equipped with a range of model ways of working together at the community level to develop the possibilities of a peaceful, trusting and prosperous society.
The following critical issues were identified:
Remembering the past, without staying in the past
- The need to find a way to move forward while continuing to remember the pain
Healing, both physical and emotional
- Supporting good health, both physical and emotional
- Attention to gender issues and teh needs of children and youth
Restoring the experience of justice
Engaging with government without waiting for the government as the source of change
- Engendering a deep democracy that goes beyond voting for politicians
Providing resources for living
- Generating and delivering resources to local communitiesin need, without leading to a sense of 'welfarism'
Providing resources for dissemination and cross-communication
Engaging with the media to disseminate local stories
- Communication of positive practice between communities of different ethnic and religious backgrounds
- Sharing knowledge of good practices for reconciliation and social change between NGOs
Developing education for change
- Establishing an education-for-peace curriculum
- Ensuring that schools relate to each other through intercultural exchange, including sporting competition
- Placing questions of gender be brought into the centre of education
- Reinvigorating civil society that has in many places been fractured
- Giving hope to broken communities or people who have lost their communities
- Creating a united future while continuing to recognize and respect deep cultural difference
Ancient cultures, new futures: Sri Lankans moving forward together, 2013 ongoing
Ancient Cultures, new futures is a partnership between Global Reconciliation, members of Initiatives of Change and the Sri Lankan diaspora to help build a reconciliation process in Sri Lanka following the end of the civil conflict in 2009.
The basis of the work is a shared, commitment to overcoming old enmities, re-building trust, and moving forward to a new era of harmony and productivity, in spite of difficulties presented by the continuing legacy of personal and social suffering and trauma.
The project was stimulated by the forum in August 2012 attended by all inclusive civil society groups from around Sri Lanka to establish a coordinated, community-based program to rebuild the social infrastructure, address issues of psychological trauma, assist with the healing of young people damaged by the war, and find ways for individuals and the society as a whole to negotiate a process of mourning.
The work is non-political, in the sense of avoiding alignment with any particular group or party.
The initiative was launched in August 2013 at Parliament House, Melbourne, featuring the Sri Lankan High Commissioner, Consul, parliamentarians, youth and representatives of all parts of the Australian Sri Lankan diaspora.