Sarvodaya circles (again)

May 9, 2006 § Leave a comment

Moratuwa, Sri Lanka – May 5+6, 2006: Sarvodaya is an organization that has brought millions of Sri Lankans together over the past five decades, all against a background of conflict, religious differences and poverty. They know how to make a movement based on shared labour (shramadana) and common consciousness (sarvodaya). They know how to make a network.


Watching Sarvodaya use its community organizing talents to bring together a family of telecentre operators from across Sri Lanka continues to amaze me. The event over the past two days included 150 people from a variety of telecentre programs: ICTA Nanasala’s and eLibraries; Sarvodaya telecentres and village information centres; Ministry of Agriculture rural knowledge centres; and even the UNESCO CMC in Kotmale. There were also people from all parts of the country and all religions, despite the flare up in conflict last week.

Through a series of participatory exercises, these people became more
than just friends with common interests. They became a functioning
network ready to get things done, together. Over the course of the
event, they mapped out concrete plans for each of the three main areas
of the telecentre family project: awareness raising and grassroots
marketing; training for telecentre managers; development of services
and quality standards for telecentres in 1000 villages across the
country. And, they did this with passion, many staying up until 2am the
first night preparing presentations their parts of the project.


What impressed me most was the outdoor closing circle, with everyone (including me and Shaddy) sitting on straw mats and sharing dreams for the telecentre family in 2010. This included a hilarious role play story showing national unity emerging from increased access to communications and knowledge. The circle also surfaced 30 people willing to lead regional telecentre family activities, all of them village level telecentre operators and 1/3 of them women. It was in this circle that I really felt the sense of family at its deepest, feeling that this network really has started to gel. As I have said before, Sarvodaya circles are powerful things.

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