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"Notes from the Field": 
   Journal Entry # 15: 
News from the "Peace Front"   
Funds Needed!   
 

 
Howdy—

News from the “Peace Front” –

Things continue to move in peaceful directions on the island.  The most recent news:

--- A few hours ago, local radio announced that the parties to the conflict signed a “Cessation of Hostilities” agreement that calls for a mutually observed, permanent cease-fire.  This is a truly historic day.  (This agreement is not the same as a peace treaty – it is anticipated that a full peace agreement will take months of negotiating.  However, the “Cessation of Hostilities” agreement is a powerful first step.)  My congratulations go out to the Sri Lankan government, the LTTE leadership, to the Norweigan intermediaries, and to all who meditated, prayed and worked to bring this about.
--- The “A9” roadway to the North of the island has been opened!  Both the Sri Lanka Army and the Tamil Tigers have de-mined their respective stretches of the roadway and had an opening ceremony on 15 February.  It’s not free sailing – civilians still need clearance from both sides to travel.  Both sides have set up checkpoints, with a mile-wide “no man’s land” between them, monitored by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).  
---  The front page of the government-controlled newspaper ran a picture of a smiling Tamil Tiger soldier carrying a child.  In the past, the picture would have never been used, or would have had a caption like “Snarling terrorist prepares to eat baby for lunch”.  (Click here for picture)
---  All has not been rosy – last night there was a significant violent clash between the Sri Lankan Navy and the Sea Tigers, involving several vessels on both sides.  This is the first clash in the three months of unilateral cease-fires. It is unclear who started it.  To the credit of the current government, they announced that this isolated incident would not derail the peace process.

And, the biggest news: Sarvodaya’s peoples’ peace operation (SPPO-2002) remains right on track.  With about 25 days to go, we have received confirmations from A QUARTER OF A MILLION PEOPLE!  Logistical arrangements for 15 March are in high gear.  
---  The Sri Lankan television stations will carry the event live throughout the island.  (Sarvodaya will webcast the live event – more details as we get closer to the date.)  
---  The Sri Lanka Railway is commissioning a special “Peace Train” to take 5,000 meditators up from the southern tip of the island, through all the major cities, to arrive (hopefully on time!) at the meditation itself.
---  The grounds of the ancient Buddhist temple are being prepared to receive up to 1,000,000 visitors on that day.  Scaffolding, stage, visitors areas, toilets, transportation, information, first aid, and a million other details are being worked on.

Some of you have asked for more information regarding Sarvodaya’s plans for SPPO-2002.  (Some of you are actually planning to come to Sri Lanka to participate!  Great!!)  For more information on the 15th of March Peace Operation, visit the sarvodaya website:  www.sarvodaya.org 
and/or the Commonway website:  Cwitem~4-3-MED-02.htm#SPPO-2002 

Funds Needed!
There is another way for you to participate –give money.  Anita Roddick said, “The purpose of money is not to make more money.  The purpose of money is to grease the wheels of social change.”  These wheels over here could use a little of your grease right now!

The amazing thing about Sarvodaya’s peace operation is that, because of Sarvodaya’s size and expertise, they can organize the logistics for this massive operation for the absurdly low rate of TEN CENTS PER PARTICIPANT!!  To get half a million people to the city of Anuradapura, it will cost Sarvodaya about $56,000.  This money will be spent for:

Logistics (stage, public address, etc)  1,000,000 rupees
Media:  (banners, leaflets, booklets, etc)  1,000,000 rupees
Field Operations (event activities)   1,100,000 rupees
District Coordination (village-level work)  1,010,000 rupees
Coordination (transport, phones, etc)     500,000 rupees
Spiritual (Meditation training programs, etc)    150,000 rupees
Other operations & contingency      300,000 rupees
Total:  roughly five million rupees, or $56,000 dollars.

“Other operations” includes the webcast, village training, crowd control, first aid… the list goes on.

At present, Sarvodaya has NO DEDICATED FUNDS for this massive undertaking.  As always, Sarvodaya is proceeding on vision and faith – and the generosity of those of us in the West who have both available funds and a heart of compassionate giving.

This is where you come in.

There are currently about 600 names on the Commonway e-Network list.  (Some of these are listserves.)  If each of us gave $100.00, that would fund ALL of the Sarvodaya peace operations for 15 March!!  That would also fund part of the “Sister Village Link-Up Program”  (see websites for details).

However, when I review my list, I notice that (for those of you I know personally) about 1/3 of the list are people I would call “students” – for one reason or another, without a lot of available cash.  For the “students”, I’m asking that you give $10-50 toward the peace campaign.  (Remember: ten dollars will provide for the participation of 100 Sri Lankans.)

I also notice from my list that 5-10% of you are people I would call “substantial”.  You know who you are.  For the “substantials”, I am asking that you give $1,000 or more toward the peace campaign.

The bulk of the Commonway list has resources more than “students” and less than “substantials”.  We’ll call those “middles”.  From the “middles”, I am asking that you give $100-500 toward the peace campaign.

Although my personal resources clearly puts me as one of the “middles”, I am personally pledging $1,000 to the Sarvodaya peace operation.  I hope this encourages all of us to open our hearts a little wider and to dig into our wallets a little deeper.

I’m not going to do the “hard sell” on you, to try to make you either afraid guilty.  An elder once said that a gift has nothing to do with the recipient – a gift is the reflection of the state of mind of the giver.  In the end, it doesn’t matter if you give or not – this event will happen and will be successful, whether or not you give Sarvodaya $10 or $100 or $1,000.  A gift is an opportunity for us to practice our compassion and to practice good stewardship over the funds that have been given to us by others.  

WHAT TO DO:
If you are giving, don’t worry about your check arriving here in Sri Lanka on time for the event – it probably won’t.  What we need is your PLEDGE of support more than the actual money right now.  With your pledge, Sarvodaya is better able to dip into its other committed funds to cover immediate expenses.  

So…  Please email me, with a copy to the Sarvodaya Peace Secretariat sarpeace@sltnet.lk, telling us the amount of your pledge.  Then, at your earliest convenience, please put your check in the mail (issued to “Sarvodaya -  SPPO 2002”), addressed to:

Sarvodaya Peace Secretariat
“Damsak Mandira”
98 Rawattawatte Road
Moratuwa, Sri Lanka
email   sarpeace@sltnet.lk

Your name will be added to the very attractive commemorative brochure that will be developed for this occaison.  (You may also request anonymity.)  Sarvodaya will send you a copy of the brochure, as soon after the event as possible, upon receipt of your check.  If your gift is a memorial to someone, or done on behalf of someone, let us know as soon as possible.

WHAT ELSE YOU CAN DO:
1. Forward a copy of this to a personal friend, a relative, co-worker, or other, explaining that you are making a commitment to this peace operation and encourage them to do the same.  
2. Send an email to CNN, BBC and other international news organizations, telling them that you heard ½ million people were gathering for peace, and whether or not they intend to cover the event.  (CNN has carried very little on the peace activities on the island, but gave a very detailed description of the recent attack.  We see what’s in our hearts.)
3. Last but not least, meditate!  On 15 March, in the afternoon, spend one hour meditating for peace – in Sri Lanka and in the world.
 

Peace,

Sharif
 


 
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