In a profound demonstration of unity, Caritas Sri Lanka SEDEC organized a three-day event titled “Empowering Estate Communities for a Brighter Future.” This impactful gathering took place at the Samudi Conference Hall in Rathnapura from November 15th to 17th, 2023.
Day One: Illuminating the Path Forward
The first day set the tone with the ceremonial lighting of lamps, symbolizing the enlightenment that awaited the estate communities. Distinguished figures such as Rev. Fr. Luke Nelson National Director of Caritas Sri Lanka SEDEC and Rev. Fr. Damian Fernando Director of Caritas Rathnapura Sethmini graced the event. Rev. Fr. Damian Fernando warmly welcomed participants from Rathnapura, Galle, Badulla, and Kandy dioceses. Mr Selvaraj, CBO Leader, shared uplifting success stories, illustrating the tangible positive changes post-Caritas intervention. District Coordinator Mrs. Anoja shed light on project achievements; The District Secretary Mr.Wasantha Gunarathne, chief guest of the day stressed the historical economic contributions of tea and rubber plantations, noting a lack of government support. He proposed a legal clinic program to achieve zero percentage legal documents for plantation communities, with assured backing from officials. He also called for reducing substance abuse, promoting religion, fostering humanity, and inspiring everyone to be agents of change.
Day Two: Focusing on Health and Education
The second day turned attention to health and education issues within estate communities. Engaging discussions delved into the challenges faced by estate schools, the nutritional needs of pregnant mothers, and the imperative of unity within the community. The Community leaders, Mr. Sadeesh and Mr. Vigneshwaren provided valuable insights on community initiatives to improve health conditions. Conversations extended to enclose labour rights, education, housing, and poverty, exploring innovative strategies such as the outgrow system and advocating for an ATM at Galabada Estate to address exploitation in tea estates. Mrs. Subashini, a government teacher, emphasized the significance of legal documentation, housing, and poverty reduction, conducting practical leadership sessions that were completed in the awarding of certificates and gifts to participants and coordinators, underscoring their inherent social responsibility.
Day Three: Reflection and Celebration
The concluding day, led by Mr. Sagayaraj from Caritas Sri Lanka SEDEC, featured a comprehensive evaluation session. Leaders presented remarkable project progress, expressing gratitude for Caritas initiatives that have fueled positive change. The conference wrapped up with a reminder of the social responsibility each community leader carries back to their respective communities. This transformative gathering not only empowered estate communities but also nurtured unity, leadership, and awareness for a better future. Caritas Sri Lanka SEDEC’s strong commitment to uplifting marginalized communities was appreciable throughout the conference, laying a powerful foundation for sustained positive change. The event signalled a brighter future for those often overlooked in society.