A group of 76 participants (47 males and 29 females) took part in the exchange including 10 religious leaders and seven people with disabilities. They discussed the role played by religious and lay leaders in creating harmony among communities.
The project entitled “Religions to Reconcile: Strengthening Inter-Religious People-to-People Community Engagement for Reconciliation and Social Cohesion in Post-Conflict Sri Lanka” is implemented by NPC in partnership with Generations for Peace (GFP), an international peace-building organization based in Amman, Jordan. It is supported entirely by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which is the U.S. Government’s development agency. The overall goal is to strengthen community networks mentored by religious leaders and engage them in building consensus for transitional justice and a pluralistic identity.
NPC Chairman Dr Joe William and Executive Director Dr Jehan Perera took part in the discussion where several leaders commented on the need for greater understanding and tolerance among different ethnic and religious groups. Dr William explained the reasoning behind NPC’s founding and thanked the participants for their commitment towards peace building while Dr Perera spoke on the need for tolerance when working with different communities.
Venerable Ranmuthugala Sangarathana Thero, representing Ampara DIRC, pointed out that one way to address intolerance among communities was to know the language of the other. Kurukkal Kathiravel from Nuwara Eliya said that he was happy that he could be part of the exchange because there was no better way to bring people from different ethnic and religious communities together.