Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement of Sri Lanka

Summary :

From its humble beginnings in 1958, Sarvodaya believes in a people-centered and inclusive sustainable development through a practical model of self-help and giving back to the society with greater participation, especially including the vulnerable and marginalized segments of the society, as an integral part of an awakened society. This effort created a unique people’s movement, which is globally known as the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement of Sri Lanka, where the untapped social capital of the post-independent rural Sri Lanka was transformed in to a volunteer force of inclusive development, benefitting all.

Today, the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement, ‘Sarvodaya’ is the largest and most broadly embedded community based organization network in Sri Lanka, benefitting the lives of millions through its integrated approach to development consisting of spiritual, moral, cultural, social, economic and political dimensions. Inspired by the Gandhian ideals of truth, non-violence, self-denial and service for all, Sarvodaya seeks a no-poverty and no –affluence society in Sri Lanka, achieved through a shift in consciousness, economic and political spheres of individuals, families, villages and the nation.

Through the decades, Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement has been widely recognized with itsproven history of exceptional accomplishments across many sectors of spiritual awakeningand development; strong organizational structure with wide range of expertise in communitybuilding, community health and nutrition, youth and women empowerment, micro-finances,welfare services, disaster risk reduction etc.; formidable outreach which encompasses morethan 15,000 communities across all of Sri Lanka’s regions and socio-political divides, withsome 5,600 legally independent community based organizations ‘Sarvodaya ShramadanaSocieties’ under the patronage of Sarvodaya.

Being incorporated by the Act of Parliament No. 16 of 1972, Sarvodaya has guaranteed itsactive presence throughout Sri Lanka with its 26 District Offices, and more than 300 nationaland district staff. The hundreds and thousands of volunteers who are associated with its youthwing Sarvodaya Shanthi Sena, and the Sarvodaya Shramadana Societies are the greatest assetSarvodaya enjoys, in addition to its physical asset base including 10 Sarvodaya Institute of Higher Learning campus network with the main Campus in Aluthgama, Bandaragama on the banks of beautiful Bolgoda Lake; 3 organic farms extended over hundreds of acres in dry and intermediate climatic zones of Sri Lanka; the peace resource center and vocational training center network in Jaffna, Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Matara; and the social enterprises of Sarvo-Tech engineering services, Fusion ICT education, Vishva Lekha printing, eco-friendly wooden toy production, Sri Lankan handicraft exports, and the Sri Lankan organic spices.

The legally independent and specialized Sarvodaya sister-organizations of Sarvodaya Suwasetha Sewa Society, Sarvodaya Women’s Movement, Sarvodaya Legal Services Movement, Sarvodaya Shanthisena the youth peace brigades, Sarvodaya Vishva Nikethan and Sarvodaya Sustainable Economic Enterprise Development Services cater the needs and development of wider cross section of the society including the orphans, elderly population, teenage mothers, youth, women, armature entrepreneurs, and the persons with psychosocial needs etc., while improving the equitable access and right to life, law and justice, women’s livelihoods and political participation, children’s education and protection, youth leadership development, psychosocial support and spiritual healing, development of entrepreneurship skills and credit services, relief and rehabilitation, disaster risk reduction and disaster response, reconciliation and peace-building.

The formal and informal education and training supporting the present discussion of alternative education and sustainable development is the mandate of the newly established Sarvodaya Institute of Higher Learning, while the Deshodaya, the national awakening program concentrates on improving public engagement in participatory democracy, decisionmaking processes and right-based approaches in development through its district and divisional Deshodaya People’s Forums.

The village and the organized communities create the foundations and the building blocks of Sarvodaya work, where ownership of sustainable development lies with the communities themselves. The Sarvodaya’s consciousness objective of transforming the human consciousness through spiritual, moral and cultural awakening, and deepening the societal commitment for non-violence; the economic objective of transforming the society through the creation of a fully engaged economic system that creates sustainable village economies, which meets the basic needs of all Sri Lankans through social, economic and technological empowerment; and the power objective of transforming the present political system to establish community self-governance, participatory democracy and good governance through political and legal reforms and empowerment would need to go long way to create the socialeconomic and political order that serves justice and awakening to all.


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