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Buddhists & Catholics aid Sri Lanka refugees
By UCA News, Friday, May 1, 2009
Buddhists and Catholics in Colombo, shocked by the plight of tens of thousands of Tamil civilians caught up in Sri Lanka’s civil war, have organized relief collection for those displaced. With about 185,000 refugees confined in government-controlled camps across the Jaffna peninsula, about 300 Buddhist monks took to the Colombo-Galle Highway on April 29 for a Pindapatha Charikawa (walk collecting alms), to collect relief items.
Buddhist monk Venerable Bellanwila Wimalarathana Thera, who organized the walk, said they wanted to create awareness among Buddhists in the country over the “desperate conditions their Tamil brothers and sisters were facing in the refugee camps” and to take steps to help them.
The Sinhalese who form the majority of the population in Sri Lanka are mostly Buddhists, while the minority Tamils are mostly Hindus.
Buddhist monks from temples and other Buddhist institutions across Colombo and its suburbs took part in the walk. They were assisted by over 500 laypeople, who helped them collect items donated by the crowds who lined the route. All the items collected were later put on a lorry to be sent north.
On the same day, Catholic nuns in Colombo staged their own relief collection effort at the Centre for Society and Religion at St. Fatima’s Church.
Sister Greta Rosario, provincial superior of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary said, “There is great enthusiasm among Catholics to help their brothers and sisters.”
Sister Christobel Wijesekara, a local superior in Colombo, agreed saying she wanted to show her solidarity with the displaced Tamils as she packed up bundles of dried food, hygiene items and clothes to be put on a truck and sent to Jaffna.
About 88 per cent of Tamil Christians in Sri Lanka are Catholic.
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