by Hemal Wickramathilake, SCM Sri Lanka
The South Asia Regional consultation on “Engendering Theology from Dalit – Tribal Perspectives” featured nearly 40 participants from five countries representing church agencies and regional organisations.
The programme was held at The Park Hotel, Vishakapatnam, A.P in India from March 10-15 2009. The programme was hosted by Churches of South India and organized by Council for World Mission, London.
The consultation’s theme was “Translating Faith into Action: Addressing Gender Issues from Dalit-Tribal Perspectives” and the aim was to engender theology and address gender issues from Dalit-Tribal Perspectives to promote empowerment of the excluded in general and Dalit-Tribal women in particular.
The Christian message and good news changed the mindset of these people who are in vulnerable situations for generations together. They began to resist the oppressive structures and protect against the forces that keep them bound. When the dictates of untouchable, caste oppression and marginalization of the tribal communities are questioned, state-organized violence becomes a common norm to perpetuate humiliation, subjugation and enslavement.
Resource persons and facilitators were very educated about this factor and some of them came from Dalit, Tribal and Adivasi backgrounds so they spoke about it from their own experiences.
I had a chance of giving my participation and involvement in the group activities. Visiting the tribal village in Arakkuveli gave me a great experience. It was nice to see people working hard to help those poor people to overcome their situation. Finally this was my first time to attend an international programme. It was nice to meet the members from different organizations and countries.
I would like to thank the local SCM, WSCF AP and CWM for giving me a life time experience. Both are doing great work and I wish them all the very best in their future endeavours. May god bless you all.