In a world hungry for change and eager for progress, Caritas Sri Lanka, fueled by the generous support of AGIAMONDO, organized a transformative youth workshop on peace-building and gender equality on November 16th and 17th, 2023 at the Caritas Chilaw Centre. Caritas Sri Lanka welcomed 9 Diocesan Centres (DCs) to participate, marking a pivotal moment in pursuing a more inclusive and harmonious society.

Under the canopy of the workshop’s overarching objectives raising awareness, challenging stereotypes, empowering advocacy, and promoting inclusivity a dynamic and diverse group of young minds gathered at the heart of Caritas Chilaw. The stage was set for two days of profound exploration and engagement, laying the groundwork for a brighter, more equitable future.

The workshop’s journey commenced with wise and inspiring opening remarks by Rev. Fr. Dilan Mariyans, the director of Caritas Chilaw. Fr. Dilan set the tone for an event designed to ignite change, challenge perspectives, and foster unity.

Content that Resonates

The workshop unfolded as a tapestry of enlightening sessions. Participants delved into a comprehensive exploration of gender and sexuality, shedding light on stereotypes and introducing principles of gender equality. Statistical insights into gender inequality added a stark reality check, creating a collective consciousness about the existing challenges.

The program unfolded like a journey through time, navigating historical perspectives and unravelling the intricate role of media and pop culture in shaping societal norms. Concepts like intersectionality, gender-based violence, and empowerment became the pillars upon which the participants built their understanding.

The engagement deepened as the group explored the role of men and boys in promoting gender equality, forging connections through interactive activities and discussions. Youth-led action plans, support networks, and resources were carefully crafted, ensuring the knowledge gained would translate into real-world impact.

As night fell on the 16th of November, the cultural night came alive with the vibrant spirit of the youth. Songs, dances, and dramas created an atmosphere of celebration and camaraderie, providing a well-deserved break for the participants who revelled in the joyous expressions of their cultural heritage.

Facilitators and Visionaries

At the helm of this transformative journey was the seasoned facilitator, Mr. Gayan Rajapaksha, who is an international trainer, coach, and youth activist and the adept session sworn translator, Mr. Anthony Jesudasan. Their expertise and dedication ensured that every participant, regardless of language or background, felt the pulse of the workshop’s message.

Special recognition is due to Rev. Fr. Luke Nelson, National Director of CSL, who graced the event with his presence and shared his positive reflections, adding a layer of encouragement and endorsement to the transformative agenda. The workshop also drew strength from the active participation of other Diocesan directors namely Fr. Alec Roy, Director of Anuradhapura; Fr. Thusitha, Director of Kurunegala; Fr. Dilan Marians, Director of Chilaw, and Fr. Rangana Perera, Assistant Director of Colombo.

A call for continuity

As the echoes of the workshop’s conclusion resonated, a community of empowered youth emerged, armed with newfound knowledge, skills, and a shared commitment to peace and gender equality. The seeds planted during these two days are destined to bloom into a garden of positive change, where inclusivity and harmony reign supreme. The journey may have started at Caritas Chilaw, but its impact promises to stretch far beyond, creating ripples of transformation throughout society.