In his pledge Bishop Daniel Thiagarajah said:
“In my Lord’s vineyard, I am a humble servant”.
In a cordial conversation on several matters of grave concerns in the current circumstances in Sri Lanka, President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Bishop Daniel Thiagarajah, Bishop in Jaffna of Church of South India Friday July 12, 2009 at Temple Trees discussed core issues which can meet the demands of the nation to pursue the inspirational path for peaceful coexistence.
President Rajapaksa assured Bishop Thiagarajah that there can be no differences on community basis in the country from now on. He strongly reiterated that it is his duty and responsibility to ensure that every citizen enjoys the same rights.
President Rajapaksa has on numerous occasions strongly expressed the ideal that there will not be any claim as one community as the majority and another, the minority and that all Sri Lankans will be citizens enjoying equal rights in a single country; one nation strengthened and enriched by its racial, religious and cultural diversities.
President Rajapaksa appreciated Bishop Thiagarajah’s expression of partnership of the Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India (JDCSI) in various aspects of the country’s development especially in respect of the Wanni. This, Bishop Thiagarajah said, is the secular calling of his church.
“Our secular calling, indeed an obligation, in respect of the nation goes hand in hand with our spiritual commitment to our community and we will not be found wanting,” said Bishop Thiagarajah recalling his pleasant and purposeful meeting with President Rajapaksa, to the editors of the JDCSI Newsletter.
During his meeting with President Rajapaksa accompanied by the General Secretary of the JDCSI, the Rev S Rajkumar and the incumbent priest of the Panadura Church of the JDCSI the Rev Srilal Karunaratna, Bishop Thiagarajah submitted to His Excellency a Memorandum of Partnership in the re-development and rehabilitation of the Wanni which included the training of rural social leaders to help the farming and fishing communities and also to facilitate the building of model villages and townships.
“In offering our services,” Bishop Thiagarajah said in the memorandum, “we envisage our model villages and townships will have some facilities that will be managed by the people themselves. They will be encouraged to use organic systems, appropriate technology, recycling processes, green manure used to great advantage by Jaffna farmers, composting, water conservation, home yard barns, raising of cows and goats that has been pivotal to Wanni’s farming traditions, household bio-digesters, tree-planting both in the jungles and on plain open lands, cultivation of backyard vegetables as well as community managed orchards, credit unions and public parks based on the concept that the Wanni is a jungle territory and the conservation of wild life is essential for its health and well being.”
The Memorandum of Partnership further indicated that collectively the villages and townships of the Wanni should be engaged in agro-industrial activities like chick hatcheries for distribution of day-old chicks throughout the country, bottling of milk, yogurt, fruit juice and pickle production and collection and packaging of agricultural products for market and commercial purposes.
The memorandum also stated that the JDCSI while responding to the several challenges facing the people of Wanni will also be providing supportive medical services using its two medical institutions, the Manipay Green Memorial and the Inuvil McCleod as the base hospitals and the use of a mobile unit to facilitate this operation.
Reacting to the meeting he had with President Rajapaksa, Bishop Thiagarajah said the top priority today is to give a much needed boost to the government’s plans for the re-settlement of the people of Wanni in their own houses and habitats. “This,” he said, “will not only be the key to a new phase in Wanni’s development potential with farming traditions of old and modern methods going hand in hand but will also set the country on the road to peace and harmony.”
Bishop Thiagarajah concluded: “There are 300,000 displaced people and their Diaspora kith and kin living abroad in comfortable circumstances are three times that number. We need ploughshares and all kinds of development material and aid even investments in agro-industrial, manufacturing and conservation projects and how can we ever say that our displaced people are helpless. They are our people, our very own.”
Courtesy: JDCSI Newsletter – June 2009