In the wake of the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka, the Omnia Institute for Contextual Leadership, based in Chicago, lifted up points of hope that peace will win in the end. In a 25 April message, Shanta Premawardhana, president of the institute, wrote that every person of every faith of every nation deserves to wake up in peace. “Every child deserves to feel safe, welcomed, and alive to the promise that each day brings,” Premawardhana wrote. “I’m sure you know that this is why we build Interfaith Peacemaker Teams in Sri Lanka.”
A recent Omnia training brought together 35 leaders from many parts of Sri Lanka to learn how to lead Interfaith Peacemaker Teams. Omnia also held two introductory events, one in Kandy for team leaders, some of whom had just a year ago experienced Buddhist extremist violence; and the other in Colombo, with people from the north and the east who still struggle with the repercussions of the 26-year long war.
Peacemaker teams – who represent Christian, Muslim and Buddhist faiths – are trained in how to listen to, learn from and live in deep solidarity with those in the margins; how to collaborate with those of other religions; and how to build power so they can act together in meaningful and measurable ways.
The peacemaker teams – trained by Omnia – have a growing list of accomplishments in Sri Lanka. One team helped the village of Hantana near Kandy raise more than $84 million rupees to build a local school. Teams are also being formed in Sri Lanka’s tea-growing region, where there has long been a concern over low wages and poor working conditions. By December 2019, there will be more than 25 peacemaker teams in place in Sri Lanka.