Editorial: The Courage to Stand Together
Members of the KACIID Fellows Network Sri Lanka Chapter met in Colombo on 18-19 September this year to discuss how they can work with local stakeholders and partners on strategies aimed at defusing community tensions and promoting harmony through dialogue.
Kyfork Aghobjian, Programme Manager for the KAICIID International Fellows Programme, has worked with the Fellows since 2016. He reflects on his presence in Sri Lanka and the importance of building up a generation of young leaders to spread the message of peace and hope.
“Many of us remember the Sri Lanka Easter bombings from earlier this year – three churches, three hotels and several other locations were attacked by seven suicide bombers on the morning of Easter Sunday, resulting in the deaths of more than 250 innocent people and 500 more injured.
This week I am joining the KAICIID Fellows Network in Sri Lanka, in order to discuss ways that we can create safe, inclusive communities and foster peace through dialogue.
Staying at one of the hotels that was bombed, having a moment of silence at one of the targeted churches, and meeting with relevant stakeholders on the ground had a profound impact on my emotions and provided a chance for reflection.
I could not resist imagining and feeling the trauma that people must have experienced at that particular moment and how within a blink of an eye the world turned upside down, not only for the victims and their families, but also for the entire community and even the families of the perpetrators.
However, seeing both the church and the hotel fully functioning (with high security control) despite what had happened a couple of months ago, was encouraging.
People were faithfully praying at the church, while the receptionists at the hotel were welcoming dozens of tourists and doing their best to ensure high quality services for the ongoing conferences. All of these actions somehow indicated that life naturally finds its way to move on and will continue to do so in defiance of all tragedy.
In order to prevent such abhorrent incidents and contribute to the healing of all of the affected communities, we need to work together, we need to dialogue, we need to promote justice and we need to agree that whatever happens, at the end, we will have the courage to overcome evil with good, and hatred with love. We have no other choice.”
About The KAICIID Fellows Network (KFN)
The KAICIID Fellows Network provides continuing learning and professional development opportunities to reinforce lasting outcomes in the field. Through it, Fellows can connect with further training and resources to support and promote their work. By working together, inspiring and supporting one another, Fellows form the cornerstone of the Centre’s efforts for lasting peace around the world.