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Service Programs

Rebuilding After a Tsunami Through Interreligious Harmony

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Bata Atha, Sri Lanka—An RYS project was held in “Bata Atha,” a remote village in the southern part of Sri Lanka, about 225 kilometers from the capital city Colombo and 8 kilometers from the southern coastal city “Tangalle.” This area was the worst hit area by the tsunami in December 2004. The local government with the assistance of NGOs has constructed a model village called “Ruvin Gama” to resettle families affected by the tsunami. But this village had no community center where families could go for health clinics and other activities. Therefore, the RYS committee decided to build a community center for the “Ruvin Gama.”

About 40 participants joined this international project, 8 from Germany, 1 from Thailand, 17 participants and staff from southern Sri Lanka and 14 from northern and eastern Sri Lanka. For the first four days, the participants worked together at the site with the local people enabling them to understand the situation of the village. After this initial work the exhausted participants went back to their residences to refresh themselves and prepare for educational programs, and other exciting activities. The leadership training program helped them to learn more about themselves and strive to become people of good character who can build a peaceful society.

Morning meditations helped participants understand each other’s religious traditions and worship. Local participants had the opportunity to live within an international community, which encouraged the dynamic of interreligious education and intercultural exchange. During orientation, this was presented as one of the goals of the project as well as something worthwhile for every young person to strive to fulfill. Working together with people of different backgrounds challenges participants to solve conflicts between races, religions and cultures and to seek the path to achieves peace.

Participants: 40
Religions Represented: 7
Nations Represented: 17

Duration: September 16-24, 2005

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