Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne
“I join my friends and colleagues to support the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children. The World Day is committed to spiritual reflection for the purpose of inspiring change in communities. On the same token, Sarvodaya tries to reform society by an internal change in the individual through the means of Metta (loving kindness) and Karuna (compassion).”
As the founder of the Sarvoday Shramadana movement of Sri Lanka, I join my friends and colleagues in various religious traditions and secular organizations to support the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children. As one of the largest non-governmental organisations in Sri Lanka, the Sarvodaya grassroots movement involves people in almost 15,000 villages rediscovering their ability to influence their own destinies.
The World Day of Prayer and Action – celebrated on 20 November — is a movement connecting people of religion and goodwill who are committed to work together toward a world where all children are free from violence. It is guided by our religious teachings and values which deeply resonate with our core philosophy and beliefs.
First, the World Day is committed to spiritual reflection to inspire change in communities. On the same token, Sarvodaya tries to reform society by an internal change in the individual through the means of Metta (loving kindness) and Karuna (compassion).
Second, the World Day fosters interfaith understanding and cooperation toward a world truly fit for children. Sarvodaya workers try to awaken themselves spiritually and thus transcend sectarian religious differences, to become one with all. Several million Sarvodaya adherents in Sri Lanka have proved that they can transcend racial, religious, linguistic and ethnic barriers to accept a common state of ideals.
Third, the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children works to stop violence against children. In Sri Lanka, like many other countries in the world, children are suffering violence at the hands of those who should be protecting them –their families. My war affected country is experiencing a shocking incidence of child abuse. It is estimated that every day, three to five children are sexually abused in the island nation. No doubt the armed conflict in our nation has contributed to this problem. However, poverty is also at the core of this tormenting situation. Many mothers are forced to leave their home country and leave their children behind with men who often abuse them – men and predatory relatives.
Every day should be a day of the child. But on the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children – celebrated on Universal Children’s Day, 20 November — I urge you to join hands with Sarvodaya in both reflection and action for a better world for our children which starts in the home with loving families.