Mr. MOHAMMED MAHURUF (co-founder and current Chairman of PEaCE)

Mr. Mahuruf is the co-founder and current Chairman of PEaCE.
Until the end of 2010, Mr. Mahuruf was the Regional Network Consultant of Cordaid (a Dutch based Catholic Organization for Relief and Development). Initially employed as a freelance consultant in 2000, he later worked as a fulltime consultant. During his tenure with Cordaid, he initiated the Peace Building and Development Institute in Sri Lanka. His regional involvement and interest in networking prompted the formation of the ‘People’s Space – space for people and people’s organization’ an initiative to create an inclusive, democratic and sustainable people’s movement in Sri Lanka.
Mr. Mahuruf represented Sri Lanka on the People’s SAARC Regional Steering Committee since 2007. People’s SAARC is the largest people’s movement covering all SAARC countries working towards the unification of people of South Asia. Furthermore, he played a key role in hosting the People’s SAARC 2008 in Sri Lanka, which was the first ever open and inclusive regional civil society event to be held in Sri Lanka with the presence of over 1000 regional delegates attending three days deliberations, with over 5000 people demonstrating on the final day.

Mr. Mahuruf entered the NGO sector in 1980 through Terre des Hommes (Swiss organization for children in distress), following a five years teaching service to the government of Sri Lanka. He served as social worker in a child based family rehabilitation project of socially and economically excluded stateless people in Nuwara Eliya. Following this, he was appointed as the Assistant to the Delegate in 1989. These experiences aided in convincing him that working towards helping children and family can build a better future for orphaned, destitute and children in conflict with law. Thus, he joined the training team of the Save the Children Fund (UK) in 1989 and worked with the One-Year Training Course in Care of Children and Young Persons, launched in collaboration with the Sri Lanka School of Social Work.

In 1992, he joined Helvetas and initiated rehabilitation and development projects in the war torn areas of the East of the country. The Integrated Rehabilitation and Development Project in Vaharai was one of them. Mr. Mahuruf was the Principle Consultant for Novib, 1998 – 2003 and functioned as its focal person in Sri Lanka. He also worked as a freelance consultant for GTZ to provide strategic assistance to the FRG – supported technical assistance projects in the North-East of Sri Lanka between 2003 and 2004.

His interest and major part of the work is advocacy for securing space for the socially and politically excluded groups because of their identity, and defending the human rights of the vulnerable citizens in society.

Mr. Walter Keller

image001Mr. Walter Keller is a founding member of Asia Foundation (Asienstiftung) and former member of executive board. He holds a degree in Business Management and has studied Anthropology. He is fluent in German, English and Spanish and is able to converse in Sinhalese and Tamil. Mr. Keller has garnered extensive working experience in countries such as Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and East Timor.

Offering his services as a team leader, he has undertaken assignments at the Diyanilla Technical Institute, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education in Sri Lanka.

He served as a team leader for the GTZ supported Performance Improvement Project (PIP) and GTZ supported Capacity Building for Implementing Authorities (CAP).

Mr. Keller was the Secretary General of South-Asia-Bureau Dortmund/Bonn and editor of “Südasien,” a bi-monthly magazine on South Asian political, economic and cultural affairs. He was a freelance journalist reporting on South and Southeast Asia for German language papers (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) as well as for WDR radio/Cologne and has partaken in regular exposure tours of journalists on behalf of Connecting Worlds, Cologne to Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh.

Mr. Keller has also co-authored and been the editor of various books, such as on water issues in Asia, refugees, conflict and peace and has held several photographic exhibitions under the themes of Water Problems in South Asia, Islam in Asia, 20 Years of Conflict in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh – seen with the eyes of a foreigner, the Eco-Taxi – history of the cycle rickshaws in Asia, Vietnam “Impressions” and “When the Peacock Dances,” impressions on Sri Lanka.

Mr. Sunil Gamage, following his education at Kingswood College, Kandy joined the corporate sector and worked as a technician for the Thulhiriya Textile Corporation. His natural inclination to photography found space in the advertising field. He joined Deve Advertising as a photographer and entered the media sector and served as a photojournalist for “Lanka Women” and “Lankadeepa” published by Wijay Publications. Mr. Gamage was a part of the production team of BBC that produced the documentary film “Beach Boys of Sri Lanka” to highlight how the severity of child exploitation is in Sri Lanka.

He joined the PEaCE campaign as the official photographer and later served at different levels to fight against the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). Representing PEaCE on legal matters with the police and courts, monitoring, counselling and befriending victims became his major tasks. Mr. Gamage assisted the Scotland Yard Police to organize training in Sri Lanka on CSEC for the local and South Asia law enforcement officers.

Mr. Gamage holds a membership at the Sri Lanka National Association of Counsellors (SRILNAC). He also participated at the counselling course conducted by ECPAT International in the Philippines in 1996. He was absorbed to the PEaCE Core Committee in the late nineties and now serves as a member of the Board of Directors.

Ms. Priyadarshanie Ariyaratne

Ms. Priyadarshanie Ariyaratne actively participates in initiatives that involve issues affecting teachers and children. She is a teacher trade unionist. During her tenure as a teacher, she also was involved with organizations such as National Anti War Front, People’s Space where she actively contributed in initiatives to help strengthen and promote the protection of human rights, especially the rights of the minority amidst a period of ongoing conflict in the country.

Following 20 years services, she retired and committed herself full time to activities that promote social justice. Mrs. Ariyaratne was a pioneer in establishing the Council for Social Democrats (CSD), Professional Youth Workers Association and Promises Change Directions (a scholarship programme).

She has also contributed in many momentums and movements that brought changes in the political and social arenas in the country. She has been awarded with the Commonwealth Youth Worker Award for the Asia region in 2013 in recognition of her contribution to promote human rights, coexistence and ideas of gender equality among young Buddhist Monks in Sri Lanka.

She is the present Secretary of the Coalition of Educational Development in Sri Lanka. She works as a freelance journalist and is also currently employed at The Institute for Constitutional Studies which work towards power sharing and constitutional issues.

It was her passion for gender based activism that motivated her to be actively involved with Citizens for a Secure Sri Lanka (CSSL), a collective of citizens who took it upon themselves to raise a voice on behalf of the people, especially women, children, the victims of rape and abuse irrespective of nationality, creed or religion. She is the co-convener of CSSL.

Ms. Minoli de Soysa

Minoli de Soysa is a freelance editor and writer at the National Peace Council. She started her career as a reporter for two national English newspapers, the Sun and the Island. She then joined the Reuters news agency as a Sri Lanka correspondent, where she covered political and economic issues as well as features and human interest stories. Before going overseas,Minoli worked for two years at the US embassy in Colombo as a political specialist.

During her time abroad, she worked and volunteered with NGOs and organisations dealing with women’s and children’s issues. She also worked for two years as Asian Regional Communications Manager for Muslim Aid Sri Lanka. Minoli has an MA from New York University.