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Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne
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Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne

Ahangamage Tudor Ariyaratne is founder and President of Sri Lanka’s Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement, a non-profit organization that involves millions of people in 15,000 villages in development projects.

Ariyaratne has won international recognition that includes the Gandhi and Niwano peace prizes, and the Magsaysay and Hubert H. Humphrey awards. He received the Sushil Kumar International Peace Award in 2006, two years after it was given to the Dalai Lama.

In 2007, Dr. Ariyaratne was recognized as Srilankabhimanya (pride of Sri Lanka), Sri Lanka’s highest civilian honor.

Sri Lanka’s largest non-governmental organization, Sarvodaya plays an important role in the country’s ongoing recovery from the 2004 tsunami caused by an earthquake in the Indian Ocean.

Sarvodaya also aids people harmed by the military conflict between the Sri Lanka’s government and the separatist Tamil Tigers. The country’s violence makes Ariyaratne’s and Sarvodaya’s Buddhist-Gandhian philosophy and dedication to non-violence and the sustainable empowerment of people through self-help and collective support all the more essential.

A former teacher at Sri Lanka’s Nalanda College, Ariyaratne conducted the first work camp to share time, resources, thoughts, energy and labor (shramadana) in 1958. Since then, the Sarvodaya movement’s reputation has grown due to its holistic, integrated approach to personal, family, village and national development during its nearly five decades.

Ariyaratne and Sarvodaya have energized villagers to collaborate to build more than 7,000 pre-schools, community health centers, libraries and cottage industries; establish thousands of village banks; dig thousands of wells and latrines; promote biodiversity, solar energy, rehabilitation and peace. An estimated 11 million people have benefited from the grassroots development organization that emphasizes the dual awakening of the individual and society to advance nonviolence and cooperation.

Ariyaratne has led some of the world’s largest peace marches and meditations to address the conflict in his country, with 650,000 people gathering in Sri Lanka in 2002, and nearly 1 million in October 2006.

Born November 5, 1931, Ariyaratne holds a doctor of humanities degree, a doctor of letters degree (honorary) and a bachelor of arts in economics, Sinhala and education. He has served on Sri Lanka’s human rights commission and received awards from Sri Lanka’s president and prime minister.

His international awards include:
Mahatma Gandhi Service Award, South Africa,  2006
Sushil Kumar International Peace Award, Canada, 2006
Mahatma Gandhi Peace Prize, India, 1996
Hubert H. Humphrey Award, USA, 1996
IL-GA Memorial Award for Public Service, Korea, 1995
Niwano Peace Prize, Japan, 1992
Jamnalal Bajaj Award for Propagating Gandhian Values Outside India, 1990
Forel Award, Good Templar Movement for Promoting Temperance, Denmark,1990
Alan Shawn Feinstein World Hunger Award,Brown University, USA, 1986
King Boudouin Award for International Development, Belgium, 1982
Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership, Philippines, 1969