In 1995, the McMaster University based “Health Reach” project surveyed 308 Sri Lankan school children in different ethnic communities affected by armed conflict. This was the first direct investigation of psychological distress in Sri Lankan children as an impact of the ongoing war. Results and recommendations were published and disseminated to key government and non-governmental organizations.
A longer-term aim of the project sought to establish a community-based program to address the psychological health needs of affected children. An innovative children’s peace garden for creative healing was established in Batticaloa: the Butterfly Garden provides after school and weekend creative play programming to over 600 schoolchildren at high risk from 20 nearby communities of differing ethnicities, an important aspect of the ongoing war and social disruption.
Based on a recent two-year program development and evaluation research project funded by SAP Canada/Sri Lanka Canada Development Fund (SLCDF) and Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF), Dr. Chase will present the Butterfly Garden’s approach to healing and reconciliation in the context of the current conflict in Sri Lanka’s eastern province.