Story of cpbr; Home for Diversity
We are an organization that evolves as a community working and existing to spread the vibes of humanity in self, community, and universal levels from an island of South Asia named Sri Lanka. In this land of the earth while we experience nature’s offerings of resources and fertility we experience the wounds, pollution, and polarization which were results of acts of humans such as youth uprisings, 30 years of civil war, ethnoreligious conflicts, and Easter Sunday Attack. There were times such as Tsunami, floods, and droughts in which we tested nature. Amidst this context, we were on the journey of contributing to human and ecological well-being together with our initiatives in the last 19 years.
We are rooting on the values of power-sharing and interdependency and believing, practicing, and promoting conflict transformation through diverse approaches in order to build co-existence and contribute towards justice and equality and have primarily focused on five target groups- Interfaith religious leaders, community leaders, women, young women, and youth. In the journey of engaging in interfaith coexistence, peacebuilding, reconciliation, healing, and connecting related activities 2019 became a crucial year since as the whole world we too met COVID 19 pandemic.
The thoughts of pessimism created positive energy to face the real-life crisis of pandemic while perceiving it as a natural conflict. As Practionaires and believers of conflict transformation, we as a community tried to transform the situation through diverse experiments and exploration in the process.
It is about how a peacebuilding organization that had worked using traditional approaches transformed to initiate our journey in the digital era…….
Journey of Healing and Connecting
In the mission of finding lost connections between communities through diverse methodologies and models, Center for peacebuilding and reconciliation, cpbr along with its three wings embarked on an initiative called “Religious Leaders, Community Leaders,Women and Youth as Healers and Community Bridge Makers”.
Heal the Past and Build the Future
JOY OF WITNESSING HUMAN CAPACITY TO SURRENDER
On the morning of 21st of April 2021, 2nd Commemoration Day (of Easter Sunday Attack 2019) no one thought it would be a historical moment in APINĀM life.
But it was….
Islam Religious leaders kneel down in front of Christian religious leaders to ask forgiveness. Tears were falling, sobbing and weeping proved that behind robes Nabi was alive. Strong men proved they are symbols of strong fatherhood being vulnerable when it was needed most.
All humans who were there to witness two years-long deep pain and guiltiness in Islam leaders’ hearts were in heavy hearts, full of tears.
It was a moment of DEEP SILENCE sprouted from SURRENDERING.
JOY OF WITNESSING HUMILITY IN ITS MAXIMUM
“If I, Therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”Jesus Christ
Following Jesus’ footprints to forgive doing the ritual of foot washing. It was a moment of experiencing humanity in its fullest existence.
THE JOY OF SEEING ONE ANOTHER IN DEEP LOVE
Jesus was alive in the hearts of all Christian clergy when the Islam religious leaders were asking for apology.
Humanhood sprouted …
Holding the other so tightly.
Humanity bloomed who were witnessing the human capacity to surrender and to open the arms to wrap the other with deep compassion and love.
It was just simple LOVE.
Heal Oneself; Heal the Other; Heal the Nature
Woman as Faith Keepers of Healing and Connecting
There are limitations in accessing resources, knowledge, and skills for Women in developing countries, especially in patriarchal societies.
The pandemic made this situation worse and cornered women to an invisible corner since everything became digital and online …
In this state WOMAN together with cpbr created safer spaces for women to access knowledge, skills and healing spaces through creative and strategic interventions to access internet facilities. Addressing the generational gap brought sons, daughters, young siblings, and neighbors into the training space to support and teach to access cyberspace.
Homes became workshop locations
Gardens became healing spaces
Kitchens became starting place of social entrepreneurship
everything happened connecting in cyberspace…
They started to learn mute and unmute in zoom spaces are very significant moves since they were heard and listened to by many …
Conflict bloomed another flower
Women started to learn how to use their smartphone to access knowledge, skills and to connect with the other for a purpose. Some are determined to buy a smartphone. Some started to use their children’s phones or computers. The connection between mothers and children became more meaningful because now their mothers can understand the digital world.
Moment of giving a meaning to power-sharing and interdependency.
INTERFAITH CAFE: Online space for youth to meet each other
Interfaith café is an online/virtual dialogue space to meet our friends, brothers, and sisters of a fellow community to initiate a conversation about diverse faiths…
We meet to initiate readings about our own faith and fellow faiths
We meet our own community to find the meanings and connect with those meanings
We meet our fellow communities to find the connections and core
We meet to reflect the distance we have between the true meaning and our life.
We meet a community to find the connection we have lost as humans with nature.
Online Coaching and Mentoring Design was the Innovation
“What is your personal vision for life”
“What is your vision for your community /Sri Lanka? World?”
“What is your vision for Earth”
This is how we started the process of personal coaching and mentoring. It was not an easy task from the facilitator’s end. Instead of group coaching, spending time with close to 100 individuals for 2 to 3 hours with one person was not easy when it happened in cyberspace.
When I was moving with the quest of aligning myself from different social structured roles to a self-healed soul filled with compassion and love, I witnessed that the mentoring and coaching session supported myself for a self-discovered, self-aligned and self-healed individual. The journey which I am now started from that day. Now I choose to live in love, where I feel so light.Amhar Ahamed, Kattankudy, SANGYOG Core Member
I always want to support and help my community overcome their issues and problems. Until I have been in a conversation with the facilitator in this session, I was only looking at problems, not analyzing and understanding them deeply. I realized that that’s where I stagnated and this realization brings much hope and light in my heart.Thevika, WOMAN Core Member Perivaneelavani.
I have been with cpbr for the last 10 years but online mentoring and Coaching sessions are the spaces which created space to have one on one conversation with facilitator and resource people which give specific deep concern for each participant. During these sessions supported me to release the blockages I had in my personal, social, political, cultural and spiritual spheresAs Sheik. M.B.M. Firthous Naleemi, APINĀM Co-Leader – Batticaloa, Chairman Bismi Institute, Consultant Peace and Harmony Unit Jamiul afreen Grand Jumma Mosque, and Member Co-existence Unit Jammiyathulama Kattankudy.
Physical Field Meetings Turned to Online One-on-One Coaching Sessions
For years and years, we used to visit our focus groups to support them to grow in psychological and spiritual levels in order to initiate community, regional, and national level transformative actions. Sitting in a circle keeping an artistic expression as a centerpiece in the middle passing a talking piece, we build bonds in personal as well as group levels. Visiting participant’s homes, religious places, and special places they want to take us having diverse reasons to cultivate deeper love and care on a personal as well as community level. We BECAME ONE OF THEM. Experiencing the life of the other enriched our lives keeping LOVE as the center of our relationships.
Peacebuilding is about the quality of the relationship you maintain with oneself, others, and one’s environment /nature. As a team who strongly practiced physical interactions in order to build authentic and truthful relationships, we were in a shock and denial phase when COVID hit Sri Lanka.
During the pandemic time, the cpbr team has also adapted to a new working system and culture of home-based office. Building a remote working system that fosters transparency and accountability, and implementing it was swift due to the small size of the team.
CORONA & US online workshop series
Conversation with ONESELF:
How am I doing in this pandemic period?
Conversation with the OTHER
Let’s wear CORONA’s shoes now… Imagine you are the virus… What do you have to say to HUMANS?
How your faith is interpreting this situation, what are the skills it promoting to face pandemics and transform the crisis to experience something positive
In these spaces, diverse dialogues have bloomed to initiate a transformative journey
COVID and SELF-SUFFICIENT ECONOMY
“If the whole world comes to a level of lock down. Are we going to starve and die? What would we do if that is the situation?
What are our key needs?
What is the difference between needs, wants and desires? Shall we make the lists and budgets?
Can we grow our food?
Can we make our soap?
Can we save our clothes focusing only on what we need, not what we desire?
Can we make our own sanitary needs?
Our own milk, eggs and other proteins.
Our own fish. small lake or pond for lake fish.
We call it a self-sufficient economy.
FAITH and PANDEMICS
What does your faith say about pandemics? How do you interpret this pandemic according to your faith?
How did your spiritual leader face this kind of situation?
What is the knowledge, skills, and tools you can find in your faith?
Do we have the resources to face the situation and transform it to bring humanity?
Can we face this situation?
Developing our minds through knowledge, creativity, and innovation
Utilizing all resources, we have to address our basic needs
Following faith-based and traditional practices, rituals, food habits along with modern medical support and guidelines.
Strengthening our spiritual and moral capacities to face hard situations wisely and lightly.
Can we take COVID as a messenger of nature or God (for Abraham traditions) to REFLECT on what went wrong in HUMAN CIVILISATION?
Can we take this as an opportunity to redesign our life in order to contribute to ecological and human wellbeing?
Can we take this as an opportunity to surrender to nature keeping aside collective and individual human egos?
Can we take this as a moment to reverse the wheel or start a new cycle keeping INTERDEPENDENCE and DIVERSITY at the core of the cycle?
With women, community leaders, youth and religious leaders, and their family members we were able to complete 64 number of facilitated workshops in order to open a new path to be conflict transformation practitioners in real-life situations.
“We were looking at CORONA as an enemy. We never saw it as a messenger of nature or God. Because we never take a moment to reflect how our religions interpret pandemics. We never reflected how our Spiritual leader reacted to such situations. We are also trapped into the interpretations given by popular culture dominated by the media. The Quran says pandemics are on earth to say that we humans behave wrongly. It is a message to STOP and REFLECT. Listen to God. Fix or transform what is wrong in our behavior. This is an eye-opening moment for us to redesign our lives to innovate new lifestyles which contribute for human and ecological well-being”Al Alim. Zahair Moulavi
Islam Ulama & Teacher
APINĀM Core Member – Sammanthurai
“We felt stagnated and lost. The pandemic has brought us to a difficult situation in which the country’s context as well as what is happening around us is also becoming so difficult. This workshop of Covid and Us brought a novel way of looking at COVID 19 pandemic and the context which brings much hope in hearts.”Barathy
SANYOG Peer Group Member Mullaitivu
“After COVID emerged our lifestyles changed a lot and we were panicking about the financial instability we are going to face. We had a lot of time to only blame the government, system and officials thinking that they are the reason for the emergence of this disease. But after this workshop i feel ashamed of myself since i and my family are also a reason for COVID and we have also got a good opportunity to use our free time fruitfully”Chandra Ratnayake
WOMAN Core Member – Nochchiyagama
ONLINE SYMPOSIUM Series
As human civilization, we have reached an era of complexity; we made everything complicated; we collapsed our natural way of existing. In this collapsing process, we have made huge destruction to Nature … Finally, we lost our happiness and life.
What is the result we all have and face in psychological, spiritual, communal, and human crises? All species of Sapiens are in crisis!
In order to understand this crisis and the bio. psycho, social and spiritual interpretation behind this crisis.
cpbr together with its wings initiated Online Symposiums Series as pinnacle moments of the initiative;
It’s a very good analysis of the needful movement of micro to holistic understanding of man, social and environmental to find healing in the world. If there should be a holistic healing, it should begin with religion. Therefore, religions should Centre their religious values on the original teachings of their founders. Love heals man, society and environment. Let’s be messengers of love!!!!Rev. Fr. Pius Kennedy Fernando
APINAM Community Member
Love is my foundation & Knowledge is my capital – Prophet MohammedAkram Junaid Moulavi
It is a moment to rconnect with this saying …
APINAM Community Member
Thank You Yatra Team for such a wonderful session. Let me Say this is one of the most terrific training I have attended. To keep the motivation on the notes which you have shared is on my desk so daily I have a glance of the same and hope it helps me to keep the momentum.Faahim Ismail
SANYOG Youth Community Member
It has been a month since one of our closest relatives died due to Covid. At this moment I am in bed since I have been infected by covid and have been struggling a lot. I was in the session continuously for the last four hours. It is healing and it brought much healing to me. Thank you so much. I believe that only medicines cannot bring healing for us in this context.Fathima Massiya
WOMAN Community Member
We are trapped and stagnated. I am not a person who resides inside home. I walk on the roads to support people, people who suffer from diseases and prisons to serve them. Now I am inside, I cannot see any humans. We are in a context in which we do not know where we are and where we go… in this lost situation this symposium brought an eye-opening session on happiness … hope and light that we can find happiness whatever the context if we seek ……….Sister Alexia
WOMAN Community Member
While we were focusing our experimental and explorative online-based activities whenever we got opportunities to meet in the pandemic context, we never missed meeting each other to do our workshops and activities. The image gallery contains the moments of love and humanity we experienced.
In the most complicated era of the world
we believed in mother nature,
We surrendered to her
We listen to her
Therefore we could move the pebbles of transformative, healing, and connecting pathway while bringing creative approaches in the online spaces
Religious Leaders who Believe that Religions for Humanity
Youth who believes in a future nourished by happiness and humanity
Women who believe in healed and connected future
Young Women who envision a harmonized community
Our family members, friends, communities are walking along with cpbr team and facilitators pool
We are a Web of Humans journeying together to;
Heal the Other ………
Heal the Nature………..
Be connected with us in the journey of healing:
Picture credits: All images from this article is from the Center for Peacebuilding and Reconciliation, Sri Lanka
About the Author
Dishani Jayaweera. Center for Peacebuilding and Reconciliation, Sri Lanka
Dishani believes peacebuilding is a mission based on interdependence and understanding of the power dynamics of relationships. Learning, Un-learning, Evolving, and Growing is the formula of her life. Reflecting, Re-Interpreting, Re-designing, Re-Creating, Re-producing and Re-cycling is the way to heal the world and build a new future that works for all. Dishani and her life partner, Prof. Jayantha Seneviratne, founded the Center for Peacebuilding and Reconciliation in 2002. Today she serves as Program Designer / Strategist and Trainer /Facilitator of the Center for Peace Building and Reconciliation, (CPBR), Sri Lanka. They collaboratively explore the role faith leaders, women, and youth can play in social change processes, healing, and connecting communities.
Through her work with CPBR, Dishani saw that with an organization with almost 300 male religious leaders and with the dominance normally afforded to men in a patriarchal society, it was necessary to create a safer space for women to come together to interpret the world as they see and experience it. In 2013, Dishani co-founded “WOMAN” to create spaces and places to harness the spiritual and material capacity and will of woman from a multitude of faiths and backgrounds to foster peace in a spirit of interconnectedness and earth-connectedness.
Dishani received the Peacemaker in Action award by Tanenbaum (USA) in 2012 and became the 2nd runner-up of the Annual ‘Coexist Prize’ by Coexist Foundation (UK) in the same year. Together with the co-founder of CPBR, Professor Jayantha Senevirathne, she also received the Niwano Peace Award for 2015 for the outstanding contribution CPBR has made to peacebuilding work in Sri Lanka. But for Dishani, her biggest award is the trust and friendships she has built with diverse communities around Sri Lanka and beyond.
Center for Peacebuilding and Reconciliation. Sri Lanka
Centre for Peacebuilding and Reconciliation is a home-grown organization located in Sri Lanka and based in the city Colombo which was founded in 2002 by Dishani Jayaweera Peacebuilder and conflict transformation Practitioner who has over 20 years of experience locally and internationally and Professor Jayantha Seneviratne who introduced peace and conflict resolution as a subject to the tertiary education system in Sri Lanka. For nearly 19 years cpbr has been engaging in interfaith coexistence, peacebuilding, reconciliation, healing, and connecting related activities such as learning & learning designed processes, capacity & knowledge building workshops and trainings, interfaith & intra-faith dialogues, exhibitions, and creative spaces for dialogues, interfaith & intra-faith community, regional & national activities, forums, symposiums, and skill development programs). While rooting on the values of Power-sharing and interdependency CPBR has been promoting conflict transformation through diverse approaches in order to build co-existence and contribute towards justice and equality while focusing on five target groups- Interfaith religious leaders, community leaders, women, young women, and youth.