Sri Lanka attacks

People pray during a funeral service for bomb blast victims at St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo on April 23, 2019, two days after a series of bomb attacks targeting churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka. – (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP /Getty Images)

Once again our world is mourning the loss of hundreds of innocent people due to a multitude of deliberate attacks against Easter worshipers and holiday makers in Sri Lanka this past Sunday. To date 310 are dead with more than 450 injured and being tended to at local hospitals.

This tragedy has been felt across the YMCA family.

“I heard two blasts from my apartment, which is close to my office and Shangri La Hotel, and I never thought it was a bomb,” said YMCA Sri Lanka National General Secretary Theonis C. Brownson. “Then one-by-one all the sad news was shared on TV.”

Volunteers and staff from YMCA Sri Lanka soon began helping the victims on-site and at area hospitals by donating blood. The support, however, goes beyond the victims themselves.

“Today, YMCA is organising interreligious meetings in Batticaloa to ensure religious harmony in Sri Lanka,” said Brownson.

For 175 years, YMCA has played a significant role during times of conflict offering safe spaces to all, regardless of religious background. Today, we stand with our colleagues in Sri Lanka as they carry that torch in support of those affected by the bombings.

Sri Lanka is home to nearly 21.5 million people, just over 7% of whom are Christian. As an organisation founded on Christian values it’s hard not to feel the effects, but it’s through these values that YMCA remains steadfast in its commitment to peace.

“I believe that whether a country is predominantly Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu or any other religion, no one should be excluded or oppressed,” said World YMCA Secretary General Carlos Madjri Sanvee. “In fact, it is our duty to actively include all in society.”

YMCA will continue to celebrate the diversity of its 12,000 communities around the globe and condemns those who seek to harm others based on their religion; therefore, YMCA appeals to the people of Sri Lanka and beyond to be instruments of peace during this dark time rather than revenge.