Healing and Reconciliation for War-Affected Children and Communities: Learning from the Butterfly Garden of Sri Lanka's Eastern Province

This paper is a brief account of seven years of project work in Sri Lanka that began as a Canadian university-led initiative in support of the Convention for the Rights of the Child. The work resulted in the formation of the Butterfly Garden, an innovative program of accompaniment and healing for war-affected children, and reconciliation at a community level. The principles and practice of the program are described, and important operational and paradigmatic considerations are highlighted vis-à-vis undertaking a community development approach to 'wage peace' and accompany children affected by war. The early but noteworthy success of the Butterfly Garden as a 'zone of peace for children' also raises questions about current development assistance / humanitarian aid policies and practices. The paper outlines an alternative model by which Canadian (international donor) resources could improve conditions for war-affected children.

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