Formation of Governing Body of the National Civil Society Organization Forum was held on the 11th of February 2023 at Caritas Sri Lanka SEDEC Auditorium. This event was held in connection with the creation of CSO forums in the first year in all the five Plantation Dioceses such as Kandy, Badulla, Ratnapura, Galle and Colombo. This was conducted in order to bring all the regional plantation issues to the National level.
Rev. Fr. Luke Nelson, National Director of Caritas Sri Lanka, Rev. Fr. Michael Rajendram, National Animator of the Lighting the Lives of Plantation People (LLPP) Project, Mr. Sajith Silva, Unit Head of the Ecological Conservation and Plantation Peoples unit, Ms. Niranjani Roland, Program Coordinator of LLPP, Caritas DC Coordinators and members of the Civil Society Forums representing the 5 Plantation dioceses had also participated at the event.
Rev. Fr. Luke Nelson addressed the gathering and explained the Mission and Vision of Caritas Sri Lanka and its Community Empowerment and Development in Sri Lanka. He emphasized that Caritas Sri Lanka (CSL) cannot only make the changes in the lives of the plantation people but all the CSOs should also join with CSL in this journey.
Mr. Sajith Silva , Unit Head of Ecological Conservation and Plantation People’s Unit presented on the history of the Catholic church’s intervention for the betterment of the Plantation community, with the past, present and future interventions of Caritas Sri Lanka on the plight of the Plantation Community. He stressed that all should come together as one family regardless of race and religion. We should raise our voices on the issues faced by the Plantation community.
Rev. Fr. Michael Rajendram addressed on the purpose and objectives of the National CSO Forum to the CSO members representing the five Dioceses. The Five members from this Forum were unanimously selected as Governing Body Members of the National Civil Society Organization Forum.
K.A.R. Nishantha , a member of the Ratnapura CSO appreciated the initiative of forming the National level Governing body. He further said, “We all can move forward with more power because here we have people from diverse backgrounds who have the ability to pressure policy makers and other stakeholders. In the future, we hope to collaborate with more CSOs and make this a movement”.
The President of the newly formed National Governing body, Mr. G.S. Xavier said that not only the members of the governing body carry out the advocacy work alone, but also all the regional CSO forum members also should take part in the activities which focus on the plight of the our community. He pointed out to a few issues such as plantation people without addresses and the discriminatory treatment they receive as second-class citizens.
All the CSO members who participated at the program also mentioned that they were able to learn from each other and they had the opportunity to network better because of the national forum formed.
Details of office bearers of the Governing Body of National CSO forum:
The President – Mr. G.S. Xavier
Vice President – Mr. Udaya Kumar
The Secretary – Mr. Anthony Jeyaseelan
Assistant Secretary – Mrs. A.R.F. Rinosha
The Treasurer – Mr. Manjula Smaranayaka
The members of the Governing Body will lead the advocacy and lobbying activities at the national level with policy makers, Diplomats and other stakeholders in order to find solutions for the unresolved social issues of the Plantation Community in Sri Lanka for the last 200 years.