What we do

Bridging ethnic, religious and geographic divides through people-inspired action

Bridging ethnic, religious and geographic divides through people-inspired action.


Bridging Lanka connects expatriate and ‘in country’ Sri Lankans. It harnesses the expertise and resources of one for the benefit of the other - through livelihood support, business development, community advocacy, urban planning and social cohesion projects.

In Sri Lanka, we also build bridges between the centre, its administration and assets, and peripheral areas of the country. All our programs embed trans ethnic, religious and social interaction.


  • To respond to social, economic and environmental issues in the lagging regions of Sri Lanka;
  • To act as a credible knowledge, business and investment conduit between Sri Lankans abroad and nation-building opportunities in Sri Lanka;
  • To work towards constructive engagement between expatriate Sri Lankans and the government and citizens of Sri Lanka;
  • To explore a Sri Lankan approach to diversity management that affirms the notion of a religious and ethnically-cohesive nation;
  • To pursue the relief of poverty, suffering, sickness, disability, helplessness and distress by accessing resources through ethical means.

Starting point

Bridging Lanka commenced its work in the Mannar District of North-west Sri Lanka. The district needs help to recover from the devastation of conflict with genuine efforts to rebuild its economy and to uplift people’s living conditions. Start-up capital, both financial and social is required to reinstate Mannar as a resource-rich and productive area, able to provide for its people.


We desire a harmonious, prosperous and just Sri Lanka, free of suspicion and debilitating conflict.

Our rationale is well expressed in the words of Shehan Karunatilaka:

"Explain the difference between Sinhalese and Tamils? I cannot. The truth is, whatever differences there may be, they are not large enough to burn down libraries, blow up banks or send children into minefields. They are not significant enough to waste hundreds of months, firing millions of bullets into thousands of bodies."

Guiding principles

Open hearted – a global and united diaspora, demonstrating their heart connection to Sri Lanka by working for the peace and prosperity of the country;

Reconciled – an acknowledgement of the collective pain, dispossession and trauma caused by past conflicts and a commitment to journeying together;

Cohesive – the right of every Sri Lankan citizen, regardless of ethnicity, culture or religion, to enjoy equal opportunity to contribute to and benefit from the social, cultural and economic life of the nation.



Mindset change - from aid dependency to self-reliance; from a victim standpoint to being authors of one's own destiny;

'No enemies' - as Tamil, Muslim, Burgher and Sinhala people we play a positive role in post-conflict Sri Lanka recognising that all parties, including the diaspora and government, are part of the solution;

Place-based - coordinated, area-based, multi-stakeholder approach to uplifting districts through harnessing skills, experiences and resources of the private, public and voluntary sectors;

Relationally interlinked - recognising that the trajectories of people in Sri Lankan and expatriate communities are inextricably linked, that what we do here directly impacts what happens there;

Informed compassion - that proper analysis leads to a deeper understanding and truth, discouraging black and white understandings of complex issues;

Grounded action - that 'hands on' participation through local projects, knowledge transfers, exposure visits and reconciliation initiatives will nurture our desired future.



Bridging Lanka began as Diaspora Lanka in 2010 with two historical origins - the aftermath of the tsunami and the result of a business delegation to Australia.



Bridging Lanka

Bridging Lanka began as Diaspora Lanka in 2010 with two historical origins - the aftermath of the tsunami and the result of a business delegation to Australia.

Tsunami response

One was borne of the horrors of the 2004 Christmas tsunami which ravaged many parts of the island. Through our anchor person in Sri Lanka, Myrna Setunga, we were able to provide emergency supplies at the height of the disaster, temporary housing and livelihood support some months later and community development assistance for longer term recovery. These efforts were centred on the Ampara District.

Business for peace

The other was in response to the request for diaspora investment by visiting businessmen from regional Sri Lanka. The Business for Peace Alliance and International Alert with financial backing from AusAid, sought to impact peace through business and thus address a major contributing factor of the war, regional poverty. Both of these catalyst points occurred before any resolution to the decades-long conflict.

A national movement

Following a successful business symposium, a group of Sri Lankan businessmen in Brisbane from Tamil, Muslim, Burgher and Sinhala backgrounds formed BrizPAct – Brisbane’s Business for Peace Alliance, to explore how they could assist the development of regional enterprises in Sri Lanka. In time a nationwide body was established, Diaspora Lanka Ltd, a not for profit company which was mandated to identify a constructive role for the diaspora in post-conflict Sri Lanka. In mid-2010, a fact finding mission to Sri Lanka identified priority projects and credible local partners to kick-start Diaspora Lanka’s work.

Today, Diaspora Lanka draws its membership from many Australian states and has a range of projects in Mannar District. Our networks in both Australia and Sri Lanka are expanding as we play a vital role in working toward reconciliation.


Name change

By mid 2014 which is 4 years after Diaspora Lanka was formed, its members opted for a name change - Bridging Lanka. This name will be registered in Sri Lanka and Australia.

In Mannar where most of our grounded work occurs, we have established the Mannarin Marumalarchi Trust (‘the renaissance of Mannar’). The Trustees will coordinate the action of six subcommittees – women and community development, eco-tourism, town planning, business development, education and environment - priority sectors that people nominated for development.