From 1983 to 2009, the Indian Ocean island of Sri Lanka experienced a brutal civil war between the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Experts claim that over 70,000 lives were lost and hundreds of thousands more were displaced, during the three-decade conflict termed the ‘No Mercy War’ by the International Committee for the Red Cross.Now that open warfare has ended, the Herculean tasks of physical reconstruction and socio-cultural reconciliation lie ahead. Understanding the important roles of post-war development and reconstruction to peacekeeping and peacebuilding at this juncture in Sri Lankan history, Communities Without Boundaries International is engaging with the GoSL and the people of Sri Lanka in their quest to achieve positive peace on the island nation.
CWBI’s President, Johnny J. Mack and Chief ProgramOfficer, Maneshka Eliatamby carried out two assessment missions on the island on November 6-11, 2009 and January 31-February 7, 2010. During their visits to the island, CWBI identified Mallavi, in the Northern Vanni region of Sri Lanka, as a location that requires immediate post-conflict development work. It is there that the organization believes the opportunity exists to establish a robust example of how nonviolence principles can be employed in the reconstruction and reconciliation process.
During this time, CWBI was also engaged by the United States Department of State (US DOS)to carry out a series of nonviolence trainings. These trainings were held in Colombo, Ampara, Anuradhapura, Bandaragama, Batticoloa, Jaffna, Kelaniya, Matara and Peradeniya in 2010 and 2011. The US DOS estimated that these sessions reached more than thirteen thousand university students and civil society workers.CWBI conducted an advanced nonviolence and peacebuilding training and dialogue for youth from May 26-30, 2011, with approximately 120 youth from across the island. Universities represented in the training included The University of Colombo-Sri Pali Campus, University of Peradeniya, University of Jaffana, Rajarata University, Eastern University of Sri Lanka, South Eastern University of Sri Lanka, Sabaragamuwa University, and The University of Kelaniya. The workshop included training in advanced nonviolence philosophy and practice, peacebuilding; dialogue for youth from the Sinhalese, Tamil, and Muslim ethnic communities; and diverse religious backgrounds from across the island.
At the conclusion of the workshop in May, a number of students voiced their interest in collaborating with CWBI on community building and community development projects in Sri Lanka and around the globe. A number of youth joined CWBI’s flagship youth initiative, Youth Without Boundaries. As part of the program, YWBs carry out community building and/or development project of their choice in their home community. While carrying out a series of individual service projects, YWB members in Sri Lanka have also decided to adopt the village of Mallavi, assisting in community building and community development.The youth have created a steering committee that will lead all activities related to the Mallavi Rehabilitation and Development Project. The steering committee is comprised of the following individuals:
- Abdul Majeed Mohamed Rishad (University of Kelaniya)
- BuddhikaSiriwardan (University of Peradeniya)
- ChampaSamarasinghe (University of Kelaniya)
- ChathuraDissanayake (University of Peradeniya)
- DumindaSampathy (University of Peradeniya)
- JeevanSornalingam (University of Jaffna)
- Jinenthirapirakash (Eastern University)
- ManitheepanKandaih (University of Jaffna)
- ManoriRanaweera (University of Peradeniya)
- NisfanAthamBawa (South Eastern University)
- SakithIndula (University of Sabaragamuwa)
I.Assessment Mission (February 2012) - Theassessment mission by CWBI staff and members of the steering committee will evaluate the current needs of the people in post-war Mallavi, building upon information that was gathered during the initial visits to the region in 2010.
The following were among the urgent needs identified during field visits in 2010:
- Lack of drinking water
- Lack of proper housing
- Lack of sanitation system
- Dengue fever epidemic due to a lack of mosquito nets and stagnant water
- Lack of a proper school building
- Lack of a community center and computer lab
- Lack of vocational training and education
- Lack of medical facilities
- Lack of or inadequate basic physical infrastructure
- Lack of or inadequate basic social infrastructure and services
II.Development of CWBI-YWB strategic plan for Mallavi
III.Fundraising for MallaviRehabilitation and Development Project
IV.Launch of Mallavi Rehabilitation and Development Project