The clergy participate in the clean-up
A mega beach clean-up campaign carried out by Caritas Sri Lanka-SEDEC in collaboration with ‘Seth Sarana’, Sunday Schools and Parish Youth Societies under the theme of ‘God’s Love for All’ and covering a stretch of 34 km from Palliyawatta in Wattala to Poruthota in Negombo, was held recently with the participation of over 5000 environmental-lovers from all walks of life.
Brief note on Caritas
Caritas Sri Lanka – SEDEC is an expression of the concern of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka for justice, peace and human development. It operates on the mandate of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Sri Lanka (CBCSL) which is conferred to the Board of Management (BOM).
It is the National Secretariat of the Commission for Justice, Peace and Human Development of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Sri Lanka. In each Diocese, Caritas Sri Lanka – SEDEC has an implementing Caritas Diocesan Secretariat. These are the secretariats of the Commission for Justice, Peace & Human Development of the respective Dioceses.
Beach clean-up campaign
It is even identified through a research conducted by a team of researchers in the United States and Australia that Sri Lanka is the fifth among the countries that pollute the ocean the most
It was the first time in Sri Lanka that such a long vast beach stretch was cleaned-up within 5 hours. Caritas Sri Lanka -SEDEC National Director Rev. Fr. Mahendra Gunatilleke, and ‘Seth Sarana Director, Rev. Fr. Lawrence Ramanayake and Parish Priests of 11 churches along the beach belt gave the leadership for this enormous task.
The campaign kicked off with a brief multi-religious opening ceremony where children cladded in attire according to different ethnicities, welcomed the religious leaders offering sheafs of betel. Ven Atabage Piyadassi Thera of Abeysekararamaya, Negombo, Moulavi Nawaz of Poruthota Mosque, Shiva Sri Rajendram Kurukkal of Kandsurindugama Skandakumara Hindu Temple represented their respective religions. In their short sermons, all the religious leaders emphasised the importance of environmental friendly facts according to their religions.
Representatives from Presidential Secretariat, Marine Environment Protection Authority, Central Environment Authority, Department of Coast Conservation, Divisional Secretariats of Wattala, Ja-Ela and Negombo, Negombo Municipal Council, Wattala-Mabloa Urban Council, Ja-Ela Town Council, students of Maris Stella College, Negombo, Sunday School students and teachers, Youth Societies, the parishioners and many environmental-friendly organizations featured in the campaign prominently.
A pilot beach clean-up programme was carried out on September 2 as a rehearsal to ascertain the gravity and difficulties of planning a mega beach clean-up project.
Experience gained in that project has immensely helped us to organise the so” campaign in a proper manner.
Every citizen should protect the nation
Fr. Mahendra Gunatilleke said it was the duty of every citizen to be clean and to maintain a clean neighbourhood. However, it is visible that our surroundings are very much polluted and an emerging issue is that the oceans are being dumped with plastic and other wastage.
“It is even identified through a research conducted by a team of researchers in the United States and Australia that Sri Lanka is the fifth among the countries that pollute the ocean the most. Taking this matter into serious consideration and as a mean of setting ‘Laudato Si’ a book by Pope Francis in action, Caritas Sri Lanka SEDEC intends to organise a mega beach cleaning campaign with other collaborators covering the coastal area from Palliyawatta to Negombo,” Fr. Gunatilleke said.
“The Catholic parish priests, Buddhist, Muslim and Hindu, religious leaders in the relevant areas also played leading roles in organising the event. Youth groups, Sunday school students and teachers, YMCAs and fisheries communities including ‘Dheewara Samithiyas’ assisted us in making this event a success,” Fr. Gunatilleke added.