45 years of "international action"
The Interact movement came into being in 1962 as a project of Rotary International, with its name being coined with the two words 'international' and 'action' being merged. Rotary's endeavour resulted in the creation of a vibrant forum where young people between the ages of 14 to 19 years received training to be better leaders and citizens, conscious of their responsibility to their community. Under the theme "service above self" young people in more than 93 countries and in over 15000 clubs commit themselves to service and international action.
Sri Lanka which is united as one Interact District – Interact District 3220 – is home to more than 70 active interact clubs and is one of the most active in the movement. The Interact year 2007/2008 is the 45th year of Interact world wide. As such the district committee for this year has decided to carry out several large scale projects geared to serving the community while raising awareness of serious issues affecting this country under the theme "Aspiring to serve as one."
With the dawn of the New Year the Interactors – along with the main sponsors and partner corporation of the event, Tigo –will host the greatest multi-faceted sporting festival of the year. "Tigo–Inter Evo," "Interaction in Evolution" which is also referred to as the Interact Olympics is a mega sporting festival and a celebration of youth culture which promises to be an 'out of the box' experience for all interactors. It is to be held in three exciting phases. The project is to be launched in and carried out during the month of January.
The Interactors have found a "Community service strategic partner" in Amana Takaful insurance. Amana Takaful PLC was incorporated in 1999 in partnership with Takaful Malaysia - one of the largest Takaful operators in the world. With the company already has a network of 15 branches in Sri Lanka and a fully fledged operation in the Maldives. They have join to strategically help the interactors organize four major community service projects that are to be carried out as part of this 45year celebration of Interact.
The Interact District 3220 and Amana Takaful partnership will kick off a series community service projects by hosting "Vision camp" during the month of February. They have decided to proceed with this project as statistics show that preventable child blindness would be one of the greatest health issues in Sri Lanka by 2015.The project aims to raise awareness on this issue and also to work towards preventing child blindness by doing eye checkups of children between the ages of 6 to 8 years in a selected district.
They also hope to conduct an environmental awareness programme that would promote the ideas of recycling, reforestation and protection of the environment amongst the youth.
The Interact District already owns a plot of land in Gampola where it has started a reforestation campaign by planting teak trees, to promote reforestation on a greater scale as an initiative with the objective of "Conserving today for a better tomorrow."
The first week of March is to be declared "green life" week during which individual Interact clubs would carry out projects to protect the environment and together these projects aim to not only contribute towards environmental conservation but also to instill in the youth of Sri Lanka an appreciation of the pressing need for everyone to be actively involved in environmental conservation.
Probably the largest project organized by the Interact district for community service would be the two phased project to signify their love for peace.
The Interact district 3220 will carry out a widespread signature campaign to collect as many signatures as possible from the children of Sri Lanka to show their desire for peace and harmony in our motherland.
The interactors would also carry out an essay competition on peace and the winning entries along with the signatures would be submitted to leading organizations in the country that are dedicated to finding a lasting solution to the on going ethnic conflict.
Using the first phase as a platform the second phase will see the inauguration of an ambitious project by the Interact district as it aims to grant "wishes" of children who have lost their parents due to the war. The Interactors believe that children all over the country possess an equal right to happiness, and would like to do whatever possible to bring a smile to an orphan's face.
They are committed to share the privileges that they are blessed with and hope that the New Year will signify new beginnings of a society where all children in the country will be treated with equal love and respect by its adult citizens. They feel that this would be a step in the right direction – a step towards equality and happiness for all children.
The next six months will undoubtedly be the busiest for the Interact movement.
They hope that all Sri Lankans will support them in whatever way possible as they endeavour to uphold the Interact motto of 'service above self.’ The interactors hope this support will come from all citizens of Sri Lanka whatever their affiliations may be; for the aim of the interactors' is to strive towards making Sri Lanka a better place to live in for its entire population.
As the interactors celebrate 45 years of what is now one of the largest youth organizations in Sri Lanka they will "aspire to serve as one" and to them the differences of cultures and creeds do not matter. One thing is for sure...you can expect a lot from the Interactors in the coming year!