Saturday, 07 April 2018 04:05

Exchange Visit Creates Empathy

Matara DIRC hosted DIRC members and others from Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi during as exchange visit to build empathy and understanding among communities in different districts under NPC’s Religions to Reconcile project. The 89 participants included DIRC members, religious leaders, youth, the differently abled, media, local politicians and community leaders.

This was the first inter district exchange visit of the project, which is supported entirely by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Government’s development agency, and implemented by NPC in partnership with Generations for Peace (GFP), an international peace-building organization based in Amman, Jordan.

The overall goal of the project is to strengthen community networks mentored by religious leaders and engage them in building consensus for Transitional Justice and a pluralistic identity.

During their visit, the group participated in an experience sharing forum where war victims from the South, mainly parents of soldiers who lost their lives in the war and bomb blast victims, shared their stories. This was a first-time experience for many participants from the North. After the session, where six victims shared their traumatizing experiences, members of the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu groups expressed their sadness about what had happened and said that they often identified themselves as the only victims of the war but would not do so now.

The group visited popular destinations in Matara including the Devundara Temple and the lighthouse and swam at Polhena Beach. Dinner was followed by a multi cultural show, with the different districts showcasing their talents and included dancing sessions, group songs and skits. A dance troupe presented traditional dances from the South.