Sarvodaya was formed over 50 years ago, based on ideas drawn from Buddhism and Gandhian thought. It is now Sri Lanka’s largest people organisations, with a network of over 15,000 villages, over 100,000 young people mobilised for peace, and 4,335 schools. Currently, they are implementing activities that will help build a common national identity and to move the nation toward that goal. They work under the vision of "We build the peace, peace builds the nation".
One of their biggest achievements was a 'meditation for peace' programme called Spiritual Gathering for Universal Peace, which brought together over one million people in Sri Lanka. Sarvodaya also run Shanthisena - the largest youth movement for peace in the country.
Sarvodaya has been at the forefront of the emergency response to the massive displacement of people in the North during the end of the civil war in 2009. The organisation, working through its district centres in Vavuniya, Mannar, Jaffna and Padaviya, rallied the support of a large number of donors to provide assistance to the thousands of displaced families. They are also playing a key role in providing and improving water and sanitation services in IDP sites in partnership with Oxfam. These include construction of temporary latrines and bathing sites, setting up water treatment plants and water filters. In addition, Sarvodaya has been conducting Mine Risk Education programmes with communities of Jaffna in partnership with UNICEF.
Sarvodaya believes that looking only for a political solution will not bring lasting peace in Sri Lanka. For this to happen, there needs to be a more all-encompassing programme of reform. Sarvodaya believes in the importance of a common national identity, which is based upon an aspiration of peace in Sri Lanka.