Sri Lanka: Butterflies in the garden

Will these butterflies be free of the wheel of ethnic violence in Sri Lanka? Can they perhaps bring it to a grinding halt? A miracle of healing and reconciliation is taking place in Batticaloa where Jesuits, collaborating with a Canadian university-led initiative supporting the Convention for the Rights of the Child, bring together war-affected children of different communities in a programme named Butterfly Garden. For a period of nine months, children between the ages of six and sixteen meet once a week in groups of fifty and interact with animation artists, peace workers and other children from various religious and ethnic backgrounds. In an atmosphere of gentleness and creativity they are gradually restored to themselves and the world through storytelling, music, drama, painting and puppetry. Many children retell their experiences of war and then are able to let it go in a setting where a relationship of trust with the animator helps the healing begin. Paul Satkunanayagam SJ, a trained counsellor who has also started a small counselling centre for ex-detainees and war widows, sees the place as one where butterflies fly free far from the madness of a war-scared world. [HL30706]