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Religious Youth Service

RYS-Sri Lanka hosts South Asia Project

Participants: 35 Nations Represented: 7

Ratnapura, Sri Lanka

Background: Sri Lanka is a nation that has been turn by civil strife. Part of the tension is with the minority Tamils and the majority Senhgel population. This regional project brought Buddhist, Hindu, Tamil and Senghel and a vvariety from other cultures and faith. The togetherness of this effort served as an important model of how religious cooperation and service can break down political, ethnic and cultural barriers.

The RYS makes efforts to support organizations doing substantial service for the community and especially those that have a spiritual root. In this project we began working with the Sarvodhya movement which has literally built over 4000 schools throughout rural areas in Sri Lanka. The RYS stayed at one of the movements training centers in Patakada and provided services in cooperation with the movement.

Duration: September 4 - 11, 1992

Work: RYS volunteers worked in a poor religiously diverse community providing health surveys for the Ministry of Health. The major part of the work was construction work where participants built a small community service center at a Buddhist Center.

Summary: This project was able to link local municipal leaders, police, religious and service organizations in cooperative efforts for the sake of the community. Ten local police officers joined the RYS in a tree planting ceremony at the temple. The community center is very important for the local community and was later used as an emergency shelter during a tragic landslide caused by heavy rains. RYS participants were asked for the first time to go through the community doing health surveys under the guidance of the government health agency. This was a very good way for the youth to get to know the community in which they were working.

Project Director: Rev. Piyaratna
International Director: Rev. John Gehring
Advisors: Dr. Anthony Fernando

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