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Religious Youth Service

RYS Graduates in Sri Lanka Vow to Work for Peace

 Participants: 50  Nations Represented: 6

Bagahawatte, Sri Lanka— 7th As Friends Project

Background: Sri Lanka is a beautiful nation that has been ridden by a violent civil war for nearly two decades. The RYS has been working in Sri Lanka for eight years and has been pulling the opposing parties together in a friendly environment where all they can grow to understand each other more deeply. The day prior to the project the capital Colombo was placed under curfew. Despite this tension the participants enjoyed working together and many stated that they wanted to bring this model of peace building back to their communities.

Duration: January 10 - 14, 2000

Summary: RYS Graduates vow to work for peace: Ten participants from the eastern Sri Lanka (an area where the civil war is active) were very enthusiastic to find the ways and means of bringing the war to an end. The war, has in a way marginalized these young people as far as opportunities are concerned. They were very happy to associate with their fellow countrymen/women, with foreign participants of their age and to experience good things happening around the world. This chance for exchange served to stimulate them to form a more optimistic view of life in the years to come.

Inspiring to all was the example demonstrated by the projects co- leaders. The two alumni, Ravi and Thilia were closely in warm friendship even though they were from the 'opposing' ethnic groups.

Work: Participants helped construct a nursery school, create a playground, and landscape two school play areas.

Staff: Site Leaders: Mr. Thilliagaraj and Mr. Ravi Galhena, Training Leader: John W. Gehring

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