Sri Lankan Catholic community working towards Reconciliation
The Catholic community in Sri Lanka has organised various gestures of reconciliation, bringing Tamil and Sinhala groups together in peaceful and meaningful dialogue. Most symbolically, blood donation programmes with people donating blood for the other community, have been organised.
Donating blood has become a symbol of the new sharing- the hope of building life by the saving of the lives of both Sinhala and Tamil peoples who have found themselves on opposing sides of the bitter and violent civil war in Sri Lanka. “It is only with pain and sharing that we can bring about peace,” observed the Bishop of Mannar who was present at one of the Blood Donation
drives at the Mannar Base Hospital
Another gesture of reconciliation was the visit to Kandy and Colombo, of a group of 28 Tamil children from one of the areas in the North hit by violence. The visit, which took place in the first week of May, was organised by SETIK , the Catholic Commission of Justice, Peace and Human Development, Kandy, SETIK participated in Pax Christi’s Third Asia-Pacific Consultation, Thailand, October 2002.
It was the first time that many of these children had travelled to these cities and for them rivers, mountains, trains and cars were novel sights. A new world was opened to these children. It was also a world of hospitality and friendship, as they were welcomed in parish communities in the cities and villages they visited. In one village, the local people initially came out of curiosity to see the “Tiger” children but were overcome by the fact that these children from the North were no different from their very own. Also notable was the generous hospitality shown to the children by the Algin estate, one of the poorest estates where people have barely enough to eat and where the visitors were welcomed with a generous lunch cooked by the local people.
For most of these children, their visit to the capital Colombo was one of the most exciting experiences they had. It was indeed with fond memories that they returned home after this
historic peace visit.