Caritas Colombo and the Negombo interreligious committee are behind the initiative. Sinhalese, Catholics and Buddhists remain suspicious of Muslims. Visit includes exams for blood pressure and breast cancer, as well as free medicines.
Negombo (AsiaNews) – Seth Sarana (Caritas Colombo) organised a mobile health clinic last Saturday in cooperation with the Negombo inter-religious committee, the local Public Health Office and the laboratory of the city hospital. The goal is to rebuild inter-faith trust and harmony, put to a test by the Easter Sunday attacks[*], whilst improving health conditions and providing medical exams to local residents.
More than 150 people, mostly Muslims but also some Catholics and members of other religions, were examined for blood pressure, sugar level, breast cancer and heart conditions. In all, seven Muslim and Sinhalese doctors volunteered their service.
One of them, Dr Rimzeena, told AsiaNews that she was "very happy to give a day for this useful initiative of charity for people in need. If our contribution is needed, I would like to give a hand without limitations.”
Before exams began, Catholic, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist religious leaders prayed together.
“Many Sinhalese came, in addition to Muslims,” said Lalith Kumara, coordinator of the interreligious programme of the Caritas office in the capital. “The aim was to strengthen harmony between different ethnic groups.”
Siththi Fathima, 58, and Nishani Fathima, 49, are Muslim. They travelled to the mobile clinic from a nearby town.
"We are happy with this opportunity. We went in for free and had our free check-ups. Otherwise, we would have had to go to the hospital very early in the morning. Being able to get medicine for free is a great help for everyone."
"Together with Caritas we want to reduce the suspicion that Sinhalese Catholics and Buddhists still have towards the Muslim community of Sri Lanka after the Easter Sunday attacks,” said Jude Fernando, a Catholic and a member of the interreligious committee.
“Our people and even some Catholic priests think that all Muslims are bad. For this reason, we are trying to eliminate this attitude through such activities.”
[*] On Easter Sunday this year, Islamist suicide bombers attacked three churches and three luxury hotels in the country.