Human Rights Award Winners (Laureates) came together for the second time from the on the 25th to 27th September 2020 to Orkwin Resort Nawalapitiya to breathe fresh air and refresh and gather energy while learning more about stress management with the theme “Caring & Sharing”.
The Laureates gathering was organized by the Human Rights Office Kandy to further encourage the Human Rights Activists to read the signs of the time and to face emerging challenges and threats with the shrinking democratic space in the country.
Inaugurating the gathering of the Award Winners, Laureates were welcomed officially by the staff of the Human Rights Office by presenting each one a flower, followed by a prayer and the words of welcome by Fr. Nandana Manatunga. He noted that this gathering is an expression of our caring and affection for one another and an open space to share our anxieties and challenges.
In the first session the Laureates shared their experiences of the COVID 19 lockdown from March to May 2020 and highlighted the challenges they faced being forced to limit their activism and spend time with the family. For many of them it was a new experience having to be full time at home focusing on cooking, home gardening, community exercises etc., however they said it was a time of uncertainty, surrounded by fear.
Dr. Ravindra Ranasinghe, psychological counselor, psychological & a drama therapist, in facilitating the programme, led the group to an individual exercise, inviting them to identify the “monster” in them, the fears and anxieties they experience and the reasons for such fears. Different colored drawings of the participants illustrated the type of fears and anxieties and many of the participants willingly explained the hidden meaning of the drawings.
During the first session on the second day, Dr. Ravindra conducted few individual exercises with walking meditation which was followed by group exercises. Dr. Ravindra brought to light, the possible reasons for fears with what really happened in the country since the beginning of 2020. He recalled how the youth groups drew art on street walls often depicting military victory or kings with their swords and armies, bringing further fears into the minds of the people and for them to strengthen powers of the king to defend the religion and the country.
The participants were then divided into 05 groups and they were assigned to discuss on how to make the Church Prophetic, education for grass root people, awareness for the children, expected Police reforms and empowerment and protection of Women’s Rights. The groups then presented a summary of their discussion at the plenary.
In his final session, Dr. Ravindra helped the participants to understand the Human Rights situation in the country that has to be confronted in the coming days. There was lot of interaction, with thought provoking opinions being put forward by the participants. Further, it was noted that the Human Rights Activists will need a lot of encouragement, care & concern to face the upcoming challenges.
The laureates then spent time enjoying the scenic beauty of the environment as a group. The second days came to a close with sing song and entertainment.
In concluding the 2020 Laureates gathering, a thanksgiving mass was offered by the participants on Sunday morning, on the 03rd day of the gathering before departure.
The participants who joined the gathering were the award winners (Laureates) recognized and awarded by the Human Rights Office during the annual Human Rights Award Ceremony since 2008.
The HRO awarded several human rights professionals and victims who turned out as activists and encouraged them to protect, promote and safe-guard the rights of all citizens, especially those who were denied of their rights.
With the latest developments of the country, the 2020 gathering of the award winners was designed to energize the Human Activists and to schedule a separate programme for the victims.
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Human Rights Office Kandy, Torture in Sri Lanka, Disappearances in Sri Lanka, Healing and Counseling
@ 2019 All Rights Received