November 2023

Unleashing the Spirit of Religious Freedom

A three day training programme was organized by NPC’s Action for Religious Coexistence (ARC) project for 79 youth participants from 14 districts to raise awareness of the concepts of coexistence and religious freedom.

Participants gained insight into Sri Lanka's modern history, especially the political upheavals that followed the country's independence, that triggered the emergence of corrupt and impunity filled governance. The pursuit of political agendas anchored in nationalism and religion undermined the principles of pluralism, good governance and the rule of law.

NPC’s Executive Director Dr. Jehan Perera spoke on the challenges that had faced Sri Lanka since independence, highlighting the lack of accountability and the current economic collapse while underscoring the urgent need to address these issues.

Participants engaged in an Out Bound Training (OBT) programme, which promoted team building and camaraderie.

Participants were able to communicate with each other despite linguistic differences. Amid the sounds of Sinhala and Tamil, the two official languages of the programme, there was a mutual understanding that transcended words. They had conversations sharing thoughts, observations and anecdotes, which was an example of the power of communication and harmony, building bridges and relationships among young people from diverse backgrounds.

Assistant Manager of the ARC project, M. Uwais, led a practical session on reconciliation where he presented the idea of reconciliation by using the butterfly as a metaphor. This strategy involved people in a way that was thought provoking and motivating.

Participants noted that young people lacked the support and encouragement needed to realise their full potential. This programme gave them the chance to interact with people and express their thoughts and opinions. What united the participants was a common aspiration: to advocate for religious freedom and coexistence. They understood that this goal could only be attained through collaboration and commitment.