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Sharing  experiences through friendship in an Exchange Programme

An exchange programme was conducted by the Social Justice and Sustainable Peace unit of Caritas EHED, Batticaloa in Punduloya Tea Estate,  Nuwara-Eliya District  for the youth and members of Community Based Organizations  from 17th to 19th May,2012.. 36 members from  Tamil , Burgher and Muslim communities in Batticaloa and 4 members of staff of Caritas EHED participated in the programme. The arrangements for the programme in Kandy was organized by Mr .Arulnesarajah ,IHDtCE  programme Official of Caritas Kandy (SETIK).

The party of participants commenced their journey from Batticaloa on the 17th morning  by a  Special Bus and reached  Punduloya Tea Estate in the evening  around 7.45 pm.   On the way at Kandy  they were met  and greeted by the staff of Caritas Kandy- (SETIK)

On arrival at Punduloya  Tea Estate the visitors  were divided into  groups of 3 or 4 and  left with 8 families  in Punduloya Tea Estate  who have consented to accommodate the visitors in their home for two days .  The purpose of these arrangements was to create an atmosphere  for exchange of life  experiences of the  host families as well as the visitors.  The host families were to  share  with the  visitors  their life experiences  in the estate,  their living  and working conditions, Children’s Education, Health facilities etc while the visitors were to share their   traumatic experiences in their villages  which were affected by the Ethnic strife and the war and  how their economy was affected  for the past three decades, the recent positive developments  after the end of the war and further expectations etc.

The success of the exchange programme  and the bonds of friendship established  was  seen from the emotional  send off given by the host families to  their visitors at the time  of their commencement of their journey back home. Some of the host families continue to  be in  touch with  their visitors  through  frequent telephone conversations.

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