In Sri Lanka, a stable, long lasting peace requires the overcoming of historic ethnic prejudices and religious barriers, and the coming together of the hearts and minds of all Sri Lankans, supported and strengthened by economic prosperity. So, APSL UK launched the We Sri Lanka initiative in 2010 to promote peaceful coexistence among Sri Lankan communities both in Sri Lanka and the UK. There are three broad objectives:
Reconnecting: Encouraging engagement, dialogue and goodwill among our different communities, especially in the UK while celebrating our rich culture and vibrant diversity.
Rebuilding: Contributing to the rebuilding effort in conflict affected areas by assisting war affected orphans, widows and disabled, providing scholarships, IT facilities, and improving livelihoods and income by generating renewable solar energy.
Reconciling: Overcoming language and religious barriers that divide people, building stronger understanding and trust, promoting equality and dignity and fostering an inclusive identity and shared destiny for all Sri Lankans.
We Sri Lanka events in 2010, 2011 and 2012 to promote community interaction, post war rebuilding and the reconciliation.
Raising funds to provide:
– Artificial limbs to people disabled by the war
– Educational scholarships to orphaned children
– Financial assistance to war widows
– Computers for the Jaffna Library
Fundraising and project management to establish a Solar Village in Puthiyanagar, a remote conflict impacted village near Mankulam in the Vanni area of Sri Lanka. Installation of solar panels, 3-phase electricity and connection to the National Grid via the GOSL’s Net Plus system will generate renewable solar energy and additional income to help alleviate poverty and enable the sustainable development of the village. The project was in completed in Dec 2020.
Launch of a Webinar series in Jan 2021 to promote the twin aims of Reconciliation & Sustainable Development in Sri Lanka.
APSL We Sri Lanka is an active project.
Future / Planned activities
We Sri Lanka webinar series
We Sri Lanka events in 2022 once social distancing measures end.
Don Gihantha Jayasinghe (Project Lead); Professor IM Dharmadasa; Leslie Dep; Suraj Wijendra; Rohan De Alwis; Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran; Gayani Senaratne; Tariq Salih; Indrajit Coomaraswamy; Dr Anuradha Samarasinghe
Don G Jayasinghe
For a long lasting peace there needs to be a healing of wounds, a coming together of the hearts and minds of all Sri Lankans, irrespective of ethnicity or religion. Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States addressing the League of Nations said: ‘Friendship must have a machinery. If I cannot correspond with you, if I cannot learn your mind, if I cannot cooperate with you, I cannot be your friend, and if the world is to remain a body of friends, it must have the means of friendship, the means of constant friendly intercourse, the means of constant watchfulness over the common interest …”
For over 30 years, Sri Lanka was torn apart by ethnic strife. Now, after the ceasing of hostilities, we look forward to a new era of peace, stability and prosperity. The absence of war, however, does not guarantee long lasting peace. Prejudice, mistrust, and racial animosity aggravated by wounds of war remain deep within the psyche of our people.
Likewise, reconciliation in Sri Lanka needs strong engagement between the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities especially here in the UK. You and I can do so much to encourage openness, good will, dialogue, and understanding among our Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim brethren. We can help to build trust and gradually remove the barriers that divide our communities. This is why ‘WE SRI LANKA’ was conceived.
Just as Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed of a day when his children would be judged by the content of their character, and not by the colour of their skin, the vision for WE SRI LANKA is a nation where all her children would be judged by the content of their character and contribution, and not by the language they speak. I close with the last 3 verses from ‘The Call of Lanka,’ the soul stirring ode to Mother Lanka by Rev. W S Senior, Vice Principal,
Trinity College, Kandy, 1906-16.
But most shall he sing of Lanka
In the bright new days that come.
When the races all have blended
And the voice of strife is dumb
When we leap to a single bugle,
March to a single drum.
March to a mighty purpose,
One man from shore to shore;
The stranger, becomes a brother,
The task of the tutor o’er,
When the ruined city rises
And the palace gleams once more.
Hark! Bard of the fateful future,
Hark! Bard of the bright to be;
A voice on the verdant mountains,
A voice by the golden sea.
Rise, child of Lanka, and answer
Thy mother hath called to thee.