Attendees at at Sashikala Lakshman's Community Visioning Summit

Mapping a Community Vision in Sri Lanka

As part of her Goldin Global Fellowship, Sashikala Lakshman, from Sri Lanka, held her Community Visioning Summit in Rawathawatta East. This gathering was designed to identify and address the prevailing challenges faced by this area collaboratively.

Participating in the 2023 Goldin Global Fellowship made Sashikala, who believes in our collective responsibility to safeguard children's rights, a more skilled community worker. She emphasizes the lessons from the asset mapping exercise under the Fellowship.

Speaking to Goldin Institute, Sashikala highlighted the importance of the Fellowship lessons and the utilization of the GATHER platform in successfully implementing her event, which drew active participation from a diverse range of stakeholders, totaling approximately 50 attendees representing various categories.

A Sense of a Shared Purpose Among Diverse People 

The Community Visioning Summit opened with a comprehensive overview of the Goldin Global Fellowship program and the Community Visioning Summit, elucidating the shared objectives and mission.

“In a spirit of inclusivity and community building, each attendee had the opportunity to introduce themselves, providing insights into their respective roles within society and their contributions to its betterment. This initial interaction fostered a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose among the diverse participants, laying a solid foundation for collaborative discussions and problem-solving throughout the summit.” Sashikala says.

She further elaborated on her goals to harness the assets and talents within her community to address the challenges effectively: “The primary objectives were to engage with community members, identify their most pressing issues, and collaboratively develop a concise three-month proposal for addressing these challenges while simultaneously constructing an asset map of the community.”

The summit was attended by a diverse group of community members including the Divisional Secretary of Moratuwa, Viharadhipathi Thero of the Rawathawatta temple, Moratuwa’s Probation Officer, the Principal of the Roman Catholic School, the Grama Niladari, the Chief Nursing Officer from the MoH Office, teachers and students from the Roman Catholic School, and as well as other community members. Additionally, respected elders from the community and staff at Sarvodaya, community-based development organization in Sri Lanka, contributed their valuable insights and expertise.

An asset map made at Sashikala Lakshman's Community Visioning Summit

Asset Mapping - A Stronger Community Will for Change 

Mapping community assets, a skill learned and discussed during the Fellowship weekly roundtables, proved to be a unique value during this event. Sashikala notes: “During the summit, the asset map that had been initially identified was presented, and participants were actively encouraged to contribute by identifying additional assets within their reach. This interactive approach enriched the asset map and sparked lively discussions among attendees.”

She further believes that because of the enthusiastic participation, the asset map and the summit demonstrated a shared commitment to community development and a genuine interest in identifying and leveraging the resources available to create a stronger, more resilient Sarvodaya and Rawathawatta East.

In addition to the initial asset maps identified before the summit, Sashikala shares how participants eagerly enriched the asset map. For instance, she brings valuable insights from crucial Sarvodaya representatives, enriching the asset map with various resources and services. “The manager of Sarvodaya's End Poverty Knowledge Center emphasized the significance of assets like Sarvodaya Central Library, SDGs Academy, End Poverty Knowledge Center, and Sarvodaya Institute of Higher Learning. These institutions were acknowledged for their pivotal roles in providing essential services to the community, fostering education, skill development, and knowledge dissemination.”

Some other additional assets identified after the summit are Vishva Niketan, Suwasetha Child Development Center, Roman Catholic School, Buddhist Temple, Sarvodaya Store, Probation Office, Grama Niladhari Office, and the engagement of community members, volunteers, children, and youth.

Stakeholders Appreciating the Initiative 

At the summit, Sarvodaya's Vice President, Neetha Ariyaratne, highlighted the challenges experienced by low-income families and children due to the economic recession, including the alarming issue of parental drug addiction, which poses a significant threat to child safety in East Rawathawatta. She emphasized that Sarvodaya is actively involved in addressing these issues through orphanages and daycare centers and encouraged attendees to provide information regarding children in need of assistance.

The principal of the Roman Catholic school underscored the pivotal role of schools in identifying and addressing local problems, emphasizing that schools serve as microcosms of their communities, with children from diverse backgrounds and age groups. He advocated for securing the future of school children, expressing concern about the pervasive issue of drug-related challenges affecting their lives. Many disciplinary problems have been identified in their school, and the principal thinks that children and parents should be informed about this. He suggested that the parents in the Rawathawatta area should be made aware of these problems through entertainment programs.

Viharadhipathi Thero said that community support in solving these problems is minimal and that there should be more community participation in implementing programs. The members of Sarvodaya particularly pointed out that the involvement of children is significant in finding solutions to community problems because they are the ones who make decisions regarding the future of the country.

Attendees at at Sashikala Lakshman's Community Visioning Summit

Infusing Positive Change Together

Sashikala emphasized the inclusivity of the event and the strength of a collaborative, participatory approach to addressing community issues. “Importantly, the summit was recognized as more than just another program; it was perceived as the starting point for concrete actions to tackle the challenges identified,” she adds.

Based on the reflections and feedback from participants, a network will be promptly established, including all attendees. “This platform will facilitate ongoing communication, ensuring that everyone remains informed about the program's future actions and allowing for continuous progress monitoring. This collaborative approach will be crucial in turning the identified challenges into actionable programs, driving positive change, and creating a brighter, more resilient future for all residents of the Rawathawatta East area.” She leaves us with a message of unity and hope by highlighting that people can enable change together.

June 2015 Newsletter

Inspiration in the face of adversity is the common thread weaving throughout this month's newsletter as we share with you updates from around the globe including stories of heroic work by strong female leaders, breaking boundaries to strengthen societies and the dynamic possibilities of leveraging technology to promote grassroots partnerships for global change.

Watch a brief video overview of this newsletter: 


We recently caught up with Global Associate Malya Villard, although not in Haiti running KOFAVIV as you would normally expect to see her, but in Philadelphia. Due to death threats against her for her public role in fighting for justice for victims of sexual and gender-based violence, Malya has been forced to temporarily continue her important work from the US while she applies for asylum. We are excited to share this interview with Malya where she speaks passionately and courageously about her work.

A quick update of KOFAVIV's work over the past two months reveals that twenty-five trained male agents continue to work in high risk areas to prevent violence and provide support when women are attacked. In addition, the organization's call center is up and running. As a testament to its importance, within the 15 day period of April 15 to April 30 the center received 153 calls, two from victims of sexual violence, 104 calls for information and 47 calls for advice. Malya and the KOFAVIV staff will continue despite constant threats to ensure the safety of those in their community and a brighter future for Haiti.

Community Leadership Course

Inspiration and an update on the work in Haiti was only one piece of our conversation with Malya. We were pleased to continue the interview with Malya to hear her experience, wisdom and knowledge of strategic community organizing when resources are scarce and the work can be dangerous.

Through our interview, we took the lessons and insights Malya shared with us and are working to shape them into a case study for a new pilot Community Leadership course we are developing. Over the past several months the Goldin Institute has been working with the Danish Design School KaosPilots and a growing network of partners to develop a course designed to support global community driven social change.

In early May, the Goldin Institute hosted the KaosPilots team at our offices as they helped design and develop this virtual classroom, workshop and think tank. Structured as a series of modules to explore community-driven social change, a set of participants from around the globe will take a 12 week course together online. The term "together" is crucial as participants will explore topics such as leading adaptive change, asset based engagement and mobilizing community resources through a curriculum that values shared learning and the local knowledge of each course member. Participants take what is learned from the module, implement it in their own community and reconvene through the app to discuss their lessons learned and share best practices and principles. Look for an announcement on how to apply for this groundbreaking course in upcoming newsletters!


Adversity takes the form of growing violent unrest in the Philippines. The Mindanao region where our global Associate Dr. Susana Anayatin is located has suffered from ongoing conflict for many years but the violence and displacement has increased greatly since January when Philippines Special Forces conducted a raid in Tukanalipao. Sadly, the aftermath of the raid has combined with clashes between local groups leading to a dramatic increase in violence as well as tens of thousands of displaced families. Further, tensions with the Government of the Philippines as well as disagreements within the negotiating partners are threatening to derail the ongoing peace process aimed at solving the crisis in Mindanao through a negotiated settlement granting greater autonomy and development to the region.

Despite the conflict, Susana and her team are moving forward and have brought the number of schools in the region with newly installed access to safe drinking water up to 98. As part of her continuing work to promote sustainability and ecological preservation, Susana led a series of trainings on Environmental Protection and Cultural Sensitivity to over 129 soldiers of the 61D Division Training School in the Philippine Army in honor of Earth Day celebrations.

Susana's partnership with the local communities throughout Mindanao has made possible a fragile but significant collaboration between the Philippine army and rebel groups which continues to bring clean water to schools and communities across the Mindanao region despite the increased tensions in the region. Both rebel and military leaders have declared that bringing life-saving clean water access to the schools in the region through this project is a way to "win the peace" rather than fight the war.


Time and time again we have been exposed to the disturbing reality of youth participation in militant violence. Parents in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Somalia have called for assistance in addressing the growing threat of their children being recruited or forced to join Al-Shabaab and other armed militant groups.

The Goldin Institute and Arigatou International are expanding our partnership to address this problem of child recruitment. On January 14 and 15, twenty-four leaders from local grassroots initiatives gathered together for a workshop to discuss strategies for Countering Violent Extremism. The discussion was robust and varied, beginning with an identification of what makes communities vulnerable to violent extremism and ending with a commitment to support a youth-led peace ambassadors program. For more information, you can read the full report Countering Violent Extremism workshops here.

Watch our next newsletter for more information on the Community Leadership Course as well as some exciting additions to our growing team from Kenya, Tanzania and Zanzibar!

Until next time, remember that you can get the latest news as it happens by joining our online community at Facebook and Twitter.