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 two years, Dharma Voices for Animals (DVA) has been engaged in a project throughout the country to encourage compassionate diets.


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.

DVA has been working with the leaders in the country to pass the Animal Rights/Welfare bill, which has been languishing in the system for many years and to pass a resolution that Parliament officially observe Meatless Mondays to set as shining example for all Sri Lankans and the rest of the world to adopt Meatless Mondays.


Bhante Sathi: Co-Director of Dva’s Sri Lanka Project

Bhante Sathi is a Sri Lankan-American monk, who is 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 Lankan’s 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

Asitha Punchihewa: Director of Dva’s Sri Lanka Project

Asitha Punchihewa DVA Sri Lanka Projects director.

Asitha Punchihewa
Asitha Punchihewa making a presentation at a Sri Lankan Sunday school

Shanika Gamage: Dhamma School Coordinator

Shanika Gamage, DVA’s Sri Lanka Project dhamma school coordinator.

Shanika Gr
Shanika Gamage, DVA’s Dhamma School Co-ordinator making a presentation

Dhamma (Sunday) School Program

For the past two years DVA has been making presentations each weekend at Dhamma (Sunday) schools where approximately 80% of Sri Lankan Buddhist children attend. Our presentations are made under the supervision of Asitha Punchihewa, co-director of DVA’s Sri Lanka Project, and Shanika Gamage, our Project’s Dhamma School Coordinator.

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-Director of DVA’s Sri Lanka Project talking with nuns at a large Sri Lankan monastery

The live programs usually include a power point 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. Earlier this year DVA’s Sri Lanka Project team, along with our 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 Presentation

A second presentation is planned for October. We have also made presentations to farmers, to the GMOA (Government Medical Officer’s Association), a prestigious organization of physicians, which resulted in assurances of support for our Sri Lanka Project; and to employees of various companies.

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 is also very active on our Follow Your Heart Go Vegan Facebook page, 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.


Television

We have also been busy getting our message on television. Our team recently recorded a number of television programs, focusing on health, the environment, and Buddhist compassion/non-harming. We also have appeared live on the Buddhist Channel television speaking about the benefits of a plant-based diet.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fMSk9JY8xg

Bihi Dora and Ananda Mahinkanda
Ananda Mahinkanda on Sri Lankan Television

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 have appeared in national newspapers.

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


Special Events

We hold special events to bring attention to animal suffering caused by the Buddhist community. 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 you have questions or suggestions, contact:

Co-Director of Sri Lanka Project, Asitha Punchihewa: asitha.g.puchihewa@gmail.com

Coordinator of Dhamma Schools, Shanika Gamage: shani4gamage@gmail.com