The visit was aimed at sharing experiences, exchanging ideas and discussing how the process of healing was progressing.
The participants included military widows, project group members and staff of partner organisations such as Shakthi, True Vision, Ruhunu Rural Women's Organisation and Human Resources Community Development. The programme included group presentations, individual presentations, experience sharing, group discussions and recreational activities.
Every district team was asked to explain the problems that affected women in their district. From Hambantota, military widows said they faced social stigma as war widows while women from Trincomalee and Ampara spoke of difficulties due to displacement and war. They also discussed women’s participation in politics.
During the experience sharing session, they told stories of successful healing sessions and spoke of past exchange visits and activities conducted by NPC under the project. The objective was to show how women at grassroots level could take steps to bring about change and to motivate them to have collective efforts to overcome their problems.
A problem that was encountered was the repeated questioning of the organisers by the police and the military in Trincomalee. This cast an intimidating pall over the organisers. NPC has made submissions in this regard to the Minister of National Coexistence, Dialogue and Official Languages, who is vested with responsibility for NGOs, and also to the Consultation Task Force on Reconciliation, which is encouraging public participation in the process.