DVA’s Sri Lanka Project

DVA Launches Sri Lanka Project

The island nation of Sri Lanka has the longest, uninterrupted history of Buddhism of any county in the world.  Today about 15 million Buddhists live in Sri Lanka out of a total population of 21 million. For the past three and a half years, Dharma Voices for Animals (DVA) has been engaged in a project throughout the country to encourage compassionate diets.


DVA Works to Pass an Updated Animal Welfare Bill

The sad truth is that Sri Lanka, among countries that celebrate democracy in the world, ranks dead last in protecting innocent animals. The current animal welfare law, called the Preventing of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance, passed in 1907, is barely two pages long, and is no longer relevant in a modern society. After 114 years, it is time that a country, where DVA has been very warmly received, to join the other democracies in the world and finally pass a modern animal welfare law.

DVA has been working for five years behind the scenes to encourage passage of a modern law which has been languishing since 2006. Over the past six months we have been dramatically increasing our support for the Animal Welfare Law, which will soon be voted on by the Sri Lankan Parliament, probably in February or March, 2021. We are all very grateful to the visionary and compassionate political leaders in Sri Lanka who have publicly supported this proposed law.

We will continue to provide updates on the progress of the proposed legislation.

Cabinet Approval Granted to the Animal Welfare Bill


DVA’s 2nd Annual Asian Buddhist Animal Rights Conference

2nd Annual Asia International Buddhist Animal Advocacy Conference
DVA President/CEO Bob Isaacson
Karu Jayasuriya Speaking at the 2nd Annual Asian Animal Rights Conference
The Honorable Karu Jayasuriya

Sri Lanka, October 26, 2017: About 700 people filled the large auditorium in the Buddhist Cultural Center in Colombo, Sri Lanka, for DVA’s second annual Asian Buddhist Animal Rights Conference.  The Conference officially launched our Sri Lanka Project, which is going strong almost two years later. Speakers, panel discussions, and outstanding plant-based food highlighted our event. The photo on the left shows DVA President/CEO Bob Isaacson giving the keynote address, while the photo on the right shows the Honorable Karu Jayasuriya, the Speaker of the Sri Lanka Parliament, telling the 700 people in attendance and a national audience via television and newspaper coverage that he doesn’t eat animals and fully supports DVA’s Sri Lanka Project. Bob’s keynote address can be seen and heard on our Facebook page.


Dhamma (Sunday) School Program

For the past three years DVA has been making presentations at Dhamma (Sunday) schools where approximately 80% of Sri Lankan Buddhist children attend.

We talk directly to the children, their parents, and the teachers about the benefits of taking animal flesh and animal products out of their diet.


UPDATE: We just expanded by adding two Regional (Dhamma School) Coordinators, W.A. Dharmaratna in Anuradhapura and Kepiti Arachchige in Galle. We now have seven Regional Coordinators who live all over this island nation, allowing us to reach people throughout Sri Lanka.

In addition to our two new Regional Coordinators, our five veterans include: K.D.G. Rathnayake in Kurunegala, Kawshalya Lakmini in Balangoda, Vieshnavy Balakrishnan in Jaffna, Chandrathilak Gunarathne in Gampaha, and Suranga Udaya Kumara.

Rathnayake, DVA Superstar Regional Coordinator
Rathnayake, DVA Superstar Regional Coordinator, Giving a Presentation

Bhante Sathi, DVA Board member and the Co-Coordinator of DVA’s Sri Lanka Project talking with nuns at a large Sri Lankan monastery.
Bhante Sathi, DVA Board member and the Co-Coordinator of DVA’s Sri Lanka Project, talking with nuns at a large Sri Lankan monastery

The live programs include a PowerPoint presentation and a showing of our short film: Dharma Voices for Animals Sri Lanka Project: Heart or Tongue? We include the history of how Sri Lanka was largely a vegetarian island before the invasion and occupation by European powers and a call to Sri Lankans to return to their culture of non-harming and compassion. Our team also hands out six-page brochures in Sinhala introducing DVA and explaining why Sri Lankans should adopt a plant-based diet:

  1. To practice the Buddha’s teachings of compassion and non-harming
  2. To improve the health of children, families, and individuals
  3. To lessen the impact of environmental disasters such as global warming.

Our team presentations have also focused on medical doctors, soldiers, and farmers. In February 2019, DVA’s Sri Lanka Project team, along with our project’s senior consultant Ananda Mahinkanda, presented at an army post. More than 1,200 soldiers attended with almost all expressing, after our presentation, their intention to switch to a compassionate diet.  

More than 1,200 soldiers attended DVA Presentation
More than 1,200 soldiers attended our first Presentation to Sri Lankan soldiers in February, 2019

On October 10, 2019, DVA held a large event at the Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre in central Colombo Sri Lanka for soldiers in the Sri Lankan army. For over three hours, over 1300 soldiers listened to DVA presenters, who talked about the value of a plant-based diet. The response by the audience was beyond even our high expectations.


After we made several presentations to the GMOA (Government Medical Officer’s Association), a prestigious organization of physicians, they began to publicly recommend a fully vegetarian diet for all Sri Lankans.


DVA’s Sri Lanka Project team also includes a group of veterinarians led by Dr. Chamith Nanayakkara, who are treating at no cost, the animals that live at the temples and monasteries, making presentations to the Dhamma schools, and organizing vegetarian groups at each school.


Facebook

DVA also has a very active Sri Lankan Facebook page Facebook.com./DVA Sri Lanka, moving Sri Lankans to a plant-based diet as we reach well over one million people. You can like us on our Facebook page and get updates on nutrition, great food, and DVA activities throughout Sri Lanka.


Newspapers

DVA events, such as our May 5, 2018 vegan ice cream social on the streets of Columbo and our October 26, 2017 Animal Rights Conference have received front page coverage in the major newspapers and on national television. Articles and editorials supported DVA, and our message has appeared in national newspapers.

http://www.dailymirror.lk/92061/repeat-of-olcott-era-dharma-voices-for-animals

http://www.dailynews.lk/2018/11/05/tc/167472/%e2%80%9cyou-just-need-change-your-mentality%e2%80%9d

http://www.dailynews.lk/2018/08/31/features/161236/plant-power


A press conference was held on Tuesday, October 8, 2019, with members of DVA’s Sri Lanka team.


DVA Sri Lanka Press Conference
Pictured from left to right are Shobha Wijekoon, Dr. Chamith Nanayakkara, veterinarian surgeon and Kandy, Sri Lanka Chapter Leader, Bob Isaacson, DVA President, Ananda Mahinkanda, Senior Consultant, and Shanika Gamage, Director of DVA’s Sri Lanka Project.
DVA Sri Lanka Press Conference
DVA Sri Lanka Press Conference, Tuesday, October 8th, 2019


Special Events

We hold special events to bring attention to animal suffering caused by the Buddhist community.

Many dogs are starving on the streets of Sri Lanka as the Covid 19 crisis worsens on that island nation. DVA’s staff, aided by our volunteers, are helping feed many dogs.

DVA Covid Dog Feed
DVA Covid Dog Feed

On May 5, 2018, DVA’s team of volunteers handed out 2,500 vegan ice cream cones on the streets of Colombo.

Saturday May 5th 2018, DVA's Sri Lanka project hosted a vegan icecream social on the streets of Colombo, Sri Lanka and gave out two thousands frozen soy cones. Here is a happy family enjoying the food on a hot day.
A happy family enjoying soy ice cream cones on a hot day.

Volunteer

If you would like to volunteer to help DVA help animals and/or have questions or suggestions, please contact DVA’s Sri Lanka Project Director Shanika Gamage: shanika@dharmavoicesforanimals.org.

Bhante Sathi: Co-Coordinator of DVA’s Sri Lanka Project

Bhante Sathi is a Sri Lankan-American monk, who along with being the co-director of our Sri Lanka Project, is also the Minnesota Chapter Leader, and a member of DVA’s Board of Directors. Bhante has been instrumental in getting our message out to Sri Lankans in the newspapers and on television.

Bhante Sathi, a Sri Lankan-American monk, DVA Board member, and the Co-Coordinator of DVA’s Sri Lanka Project
Bhante Sathi Co-Coordinator of DVA’s Sri Lanka Project
  • DVA’s new Sri Lanka Project Director Shanika Gamage
    DVA's new Sri Lanka Project Director Shanika Gamage
    Shanika Gamage

    DVA’s new Sri Lanka Project Director is Shanika Gamage, who has worked for DVA since 2018 as Dhamma School Coordinator and then National Events Supervisor. She earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Colombo in 2016 and has completed substantial work on a master’s degree in sociology with an emphasis on research and psychology in Australia.

    Under her supervision, DVA has made presentations at more than three hundred Dhamma schools and other venues all over Sri Lanka. While she was growing up Shanika experienced her country’s Dhamma School program firsthand, finishing an eleven-year course at the age of eighteen.

    Shanika Gamage is a practicing Buddhist and, whenever possible, attends Dhamma meditation retreats. Shanika has a passion to share her own practice of ahimsa toward ALL beings as she leads DVA by example to advocate for a compassionate diet.

Shanika Gr
Shanika Gamage, DVA’s Sri Lanka Project National Event Supervisor making a presentation