Mrs Patria Henning from Germany along with Miss Sujeewa (M & E Officer) and Mr Jerome Morritt from the National Centre, Caritas Sri Lanka SEDEC made a monitoring visit to Caritas SED Galle on 4th & 5th August 2022. A meeting was convened on 4th Aug 2022 under is Director Rev Fr Lasantha Fonseka to discuss about peace related activities being implemented in the Diocese of Galle. There are three peace related Projects being implemented in the DC namely Promoting a Common Vision for Tolerance and Harmony among Religions in Sri Lanka (Religious Amity), a Modern, dynamic and Youth-centered Approach to Peace Processes & Conflict Mitigation and Agiamondo Peace Project.
A number of issues were discussed. As to the kind of conflicts being observed in the Diocese it was mentioned that lack of understanding of the value of other religions, suspicion and mistrust existing among religions especially caused by wrong propaganda by social media and extremist religious groups. These erode the religious harmony and coexistence among the common people. People of Sri Lanka now undergo immense difficulties due to present economic crisis such as shortage and price increases in essential items together with religious tension and political instability. Prior to this situation, people were subjected to COVID-19 virus which resulted in travel restrictions, losing of jobs and losing of sources of their income etc. The other similar organizations involved in peace related activities in the Diocese have been identified as National Peace Council, Sarvodaya, Transparency International, Saviya Foundation, Prabath Media Network, Voice of our Talents etc. In this discussion, Caritas SED Galle staff requested further capacity building trainings such as Project designing and planning, financial management, conflict mitigation, non-violent communications, human rights , rule of law and media literacy etc.
A further meeting was held at Vivekaramaya Buddhist Temple at Ambalanwatte in Galle on 5th Aug 2022 with the participation of inter-religious leaders, Inter-religious forum members, Daham School teachers, media persons, pre-school teachers, Governmental officials, Advisory committee members. The topics discussed were 30 year war, Sinhala/Muslim and Sinhala/Tamil conflicts, how peace and reconciliation existed in the past etc. A detailed discussion pursued on the religious harmony and peace in the present context, how changes made in people due to intervention of peace related activities in the Diocese, what to do to further improve present religious harmony and co-existence etc. All participants of this programme took an active interest in the open discussion and expressed their views. This proved to be a very successful event.