History & background
Peace & Community Action (PCA) was formed in 1998. It grew out of Quaker Peace and Service (QPS) and was started by a group committed to helping people explore alternatives to the use of violence as a response to conflict. PCA began as a grass root level peace organization and now has excellent networks and relationships in the communities it works with. At first we worked primarily in the predominantly Tamil and Muslim Eastern Province; Ampara, Trincomalee and Puttalam Districts. Setting up offices in Matara in the last seven years has given more balance by introducing our work to the predominantly Sinhala Southern Province.
As PCA has developed it has broadened and brought depth to its work by helping communities understand and use nonviolence in their lives and in solving community problems, understanding their human rights and responsibilities to one another, helping communities learn how to participate in community decision making to form empowered communities, and most recently PCA has developed conflict sensitive approaches to developing is proposals and in implementing them.
We manage and deliver a mixture of community-based programmes showing participants the impact of using non-violence in their relationships and supporting them to learn and use these techniques in their own lives and work. We also run training courses for government officers and other NGOs on nonviolent approaches. We work with communities from all ethnic and religious backgrounds, frequently bringing together people whose groups are in conflict. After the tsunami we extended our peace work into supporting those in new housing schemes to integrate with their neighbours, host community and local government.
We have broadened nature of our work and added empowerment, team building and Human Rights as key cross cutting themes and methodologies to our work underlying our Non-Violence approaches which remains the key component of our work.
PCA is a collaborative organisation where decision making is taken collectively and at the lowest practical level. Decisions that affect the whole organisation are taken at the quarterly DC meeting which is chaired by the National Coordinator, then ratified by the PCA Board. Beneficiaries are consulted in the initial gathering of information for the conflict analysis, involved in designing proposals, interviewing new staff, helping to implement the project, and as major contributors to the monitoring and evaluating process.
Sri Lanka context
In May 2009 the Sri Lankan army defeated the LTTE, bringing an end to the armed conflict that had lasted nearly 30 years. Since then Sri Lanka has gained middle income status, amid government programmes of economic and infrastructure development.
But despite this there remain many people who live in poverty and lack basic services and opportunities. Communities in northern and eastern parts in particular are dealing with many sensitive issues in the aftermath of war. There are divisions and tensions among communities where people still feel there is no solution to ethnic conflict, leading to issues of mistrust and violence.
At PCA we believe that peace work is not about trying to find quick answers.
We help people to build long-term relationships with others and encourage trust and consistency. We always seek to use participatory methods. Our work around the country in communities affected by conflict and natural disaster has focused on using and encouraging people to adopt non-violent approaches to bring about social change and to maintain peace.