They've got passion and a palpable sense of purpose. They represent every possible profession and discipline. Medicine, law, banking, beauty, architecture, floristry, travel, printing, IT, marketing, advertising, dress designing, optometrics, to name some. Several of them have risen the hard way, so they bring a special insight and empathy to Zonta's goal of uplifting and improving the status of women.
Here Ganga de Zilwa, current President of Zonta 11 of Colombo - a banker, wife and mother and Zonta charter member since 1994 talks of the movement and its aims.
What does this word mean and what are the club's origins?
Zonta is an ancient Native American Sioux word for honesty and trustworthiness. The movement began 91 years ago in Buffalo USA and today there are more than 1200 clubs in over 66 countries all over the world, with as many as 32,000 members.
Are there many Zonta clubs in Sri Lanka?
In Sri Lanka there are three Clubs in Colombo and one in Kandy. The Z club and the Golden Z club are associate clubs to engage senior school and University-level young women and sensitise them to develop a social conscience.
What are your current projects?
Our flagship project is to enhance the skills training and improve equipment and techniques for vocational training for the special needs women at Sukitha Vocational Institute in Horana.
The project will introduce new vocations, provide upgraded equipment and find markets for their products. Zonta Club 2 will also help develop the competencies of the teachers in the programme, giving these women with special needs the confidence to integrate into society.
What are the other projects Zonta has undertaken over the years?
Let me choose a few of a great many projects that focus on health care for women and children and on Educating the Girl Child under different presidents and their committees.
For instance, we funded the setting up of the first female ward for patients with spinal cord injuries, at the Ragama hospital, and refurbished the Professorial Pediatric Unit (Ward 1) of the Lady Ridgeway Children's hospital as well as refurbished Unit Two of the women's ward at the Mulleriyawa Mental Hospital. Upgrading the Kirula Road Maternity Hospital & Day Care Centre was yet another project.
More recently, we made substantial donations of medical equipment to several hospitals including the Cancer Hospital Maharagama, the Lady Ridgeway Children's Hospital's Paediatric Cardiology High Dependency Unit, and the Burns Unit of the National Hospital.
We prioritise education of the Girl Child because this is an investment that reaps long term benefits for the family, community and country. Educated girls become educated adults and mothers.
We helped provide scholarships to over 70 schoolgirls from low income families, attending schools on the periphery of big towns, as well as conducted special maths classes for weak students and Career Guidance programmes for Advance Level students.
After the tsunami we had a three phase development project in Kalutara, Kirinda and Batticaloa, where we renovated tsunami damaged houses or built new homes for those who lost theirs.
In the Prevention of HIV/AIDS, we worked with a vulnerable village community at Angulana, and in a project funded by the AIDS Foundation Lanka we helped with teaching, counselling and developing skills, while sensitizing the women in AIDS prevention.
We also conduct several medical and legal programmes each year on Violence Against Women, to raise awareness on local laws that protect women and victims of violence. These programmes are carried out especially to commemorate the International Day for Violence Against Women on 25th November.
How does one join Zonta?
We can be contacted by e-mail. Look up our website www.zontaclubiicolombo.com for contact IDs. If you are a concerned woman eager to contribute, we would love to meet you!
Health camp to celebrate elders’ and children’s day
The Zonta Club II of Colombo organized a successful health camp to coincide with Elders’ Day and Children's Day on Saturday October 2 at the Shanthi Hall, Hunupitiya, Wattala.
This project which has been carried out for many years by the Zonta Club II of Colombo, was held in Wattala this year in co-ordination with the Hunupitiya Senior Citizens Association.
The camp began at 9.30 a.m. under the direction of a team of doctors headed by Dr. Mala Tudawa and concluded at 1.30 p.m.
The health camp was divided in three segments namely the eye camp, dental camp and general medical check-up.
Over 350 patients benefited from the eye camp. Their eyes were tested and those in need of spectacles received them free of charge. Two patients were also identified for cataract surgery and the Club will attend to their needs shortly.
The dental camp was mainly for children and over 75 children had their teeth attended too.
The General medical check-ups were also done for over 200 patients by Dr. Mala Tudawa and her team. Free medicine was prescribed.
The President of Zonta Club II of Colombo, Ganga De Zilwa said the success of the Health Camp was due to the support they received from doctors headed by Dr. Mala Tudawa and the Ministry of Health together with many volunteers who supported the event.
Association of Friends of Prisoners' Children gives hope to the hopeless
It is an uphill task for the family, with the breadwinner not around to see to the educational needs of the children.
Behind bars for crimes ranging from murder to rape, not only do these prisoners have time to think over what they have done but also to dwell on and feel guilty about their inability to take up the responsibility of ensuring that their children, most of whom are at a crucial stage in their schooling, gain a qualification to stand on their feet.
This is where the Association of Friends of Prisoners' Children has donned the mantle of "father-figure" for nearly 300 children scattered across the country to support them in their studies.
Referring to how it all started, Sr. Immaculate de Alwis, a frequent presence at the Welikada Prison, just across from Welcome House, her base, relates how in 2005 she mobilized the Interact Club of St. Bridget's Convent, her "old school" to help out 47 children of prisoners.
These children are challenged in many ways. Having a parent in prison, they often have to lead a double life in school. Sometimes not even the Principal knows of it. In their homes too they live with the stigma of being the child of a criminal, she explains.
As she felt that the need was great, Sr. Immaculate sent word to all the prison wards through the easiest channel, the Welfare Officers, about the programme to help children in Grades 6-13.
There was also an event that the prison families looked forward to.
Every first Sunday of the New Year, there was festivity and celebration and most of all precious family time when the child, his/her guardian and the prisoner would spend half-a-day in a big tent, tucking into a sumptuous breakfast.
Dilmah would provides the tea and the children would leave Welikada tired but happy clutching a bag each, full of the writing books they required that year, material for clothes as well as a soft toy.
The efforts of the 'Friends of Prisoners’ Association' which are also seen as a part of the rehabilitation of prisoners but beginning with their children have paid off and Sr. Immaculate says with a tinge of pride that one of their protégés is at the Kelaniya University and one has already qualified as an engineer from the University of Moratuwa.
The girl at the Kelaniya University had become part of the programme only after her Ordinary Level where she had secured seven As and one B. Interacting with a small group of Bridgetines, one of them who had just completed her Advanced Level had willingly offered all the notes and past papers and also funded her tuition.
It was a double blessing for the girl, smiles Sr. Immaculate, adding that she came out with flying colours - not only three straight As but also securing 63rd place nationally.
Give a helping hand
Want to extend a helping hand for this worthy cause - then please buy a ticket for 'Different Strokes' on October 24 at the British School auditorium.
The show to raise funds to support the children of prisoners will include drumming by Nadro-Nadro, songs by the De Lanerolle Brothers and a skit by Indu Dharmasena.
Tickets priced at Rs. 500, Rs. 750, Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 1,500 are available at the British School and the Park Street Mews.
For more information or to make a donation please contact Sr. Immaculate de Alwis on Phone: 011-2691871 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or access the website: www.prisonerschildren.org
SLAAS workshop for entrepreneurs
A workshop on 'Guidance for Entrepreneurs based on Science and Technology' organized by the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science (SLAAS) Committee for the Popularization of Science will be held for those interested in entreprenurship based on science and technology.
The workshop to be conducted in Sinhala will be held on Saturday, October 30 from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. at the SLAAS auditorium.
The key areas covered will be 'identification of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship', 'how to build your enterprise and face challenges', 'marketing your products and services and managing finances'. Those interested are required to register before October 26.
Application forms are available at SLAAS, 120/10, Vidya Mawatha, Colombo 7, tel: 011- 2688740, 011-2691681 or with the course coordinator on 077 9659330.
Attends Security Printers Conference in Spain
Government Printer Lakshman Goonewardene attended the International Security Printers Conference organized by the INTERGRAF (International confederation for printing and allied industries) in Barcelona, Spain from October 12 to 15. As the head of Sri Lanka's only establishment printing stamps , Mr. Gooonewardene as guest speaker presented a technical paper on Stamp Printing in Sri Lanka.
A book compiled with Bagavan Sri Rajimi’s speeches titled “Osho Chamathkara Denethak”, translated to Sinhala by journalist Aravinda Hettiarachchi was presented recently to senior presidential advisor and Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning Sarath Amunugama
Senior citizens Scrabble
The annual All-Island Senior Citizens Scrabble Tournament will take place on November 14 at the Colombo Hilton when Sri Lankans over the age of 50 will vie for the Deshabandu Clara Motwani Cup… the champions trophy.
Entry forms are available from Mrs. Indrani Atukorale, 102/1, Dharampala Mawatha, Colombo 7 (Phone: 2696993) or Mrs. Delryn Wijesinghe, 27, Ridgeway Place Bambalapitiya. (Phone. 2587094). The entry fee is Rs. 700 and closing date for entries is November 7.
The Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham
The Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham will be celebrated on Thursday, October 21 at 6 p.m., at St. Paul's Church, Kynsey Road, Colombo 8 (next to the Cardiology unit). It was on the third Thursday in October 1931 that the Anglican pilgrim site of Our Lady was restored in Walsingham, Norfolk, England, in the Chapel of the Annunciation, and it was on the same day in 1952 that Fr. Basil Jayewardena started a similar shrine in St. Paul's Church, Kynsey Road, Colombo.
For further information please check: www.walsinghamanglican.org.uk
for 125th Diocesan
The Colombo Diocese of the Anglican Church of Ceylon launched the celebrations of its 125th Diocesan Council sessions with the issue of a special 125th Anniversary Commemorative Stamp and First Day Cover on Thursday at the Diocesan Chambers.
Deputy Postmaster General R. D. P. Gamini, the Co-ordinating Secretary to the Minister of Posts &-Telecommunications, Janaka Mallimarachchi and Revd. Chrishantha Mendis, Archdeacon of Colombo were present at the event.