Aspiring to serve

Having just turned 45 years, the Interact movement (which is sponsored by Rotary International) is a young and vibrant entity which is fast growing into a prominent international social service organization in its own right with 239,000 young people worldwide in over 10,400 clubs in 108 countries.

Its main focus lies on community service and promoting International Understanding. The Interact District 3220 (Sri Lanka) which comprises of 84 active Interact Clubs nationwide with an overall membership of over 2300 (and growing!) set about celebrating their movement's 45th Birthday "Interact style" with four major community service projects.

Under the slogan "Aspiring to Serve as One," the Interact District 3220 began organizing a series of community service projects of which four took centre-stage. These are Give to those who gave, Project Sunshine, Greenlife 360 and Vision Camp. Of these four, three have already been completed while the final phase of "Give to those who give" will signal the successful end of a formidable task carried out by the Interactors of district 3220.

District 3220 soon found a like-minded partner in Amana Takaful Insurance who has come forward to help the Interactors organize this series of community service projects becoming the Interact District 3220's "Community Service and Strategic Partner." Buoyed by the support of Amana Takaful Insurance this year saw projects of hitherto un-attempted scale and longevity in terms of sustained benefits.
A project initiated this year ‘Give to those Who Gave’ is a unique venture of which the main objective is to whole heartedly thank those who have sacrificed their lives for the betterment of our future. As a mark of gratitude, the Interact District 3220 initiated this project to help the children of the soldiers at war.

"We focused on "Granting of wishes" as expressed by the children of army soldiers," said Int. Sajjaad Ramsey, Co-Chairperson of the project. "The children selected, were those who had lost their parents or injured due to the war and were within the age group of 8 - 12 years of age. They were approached via post and asked to wish for anything in four mentioned categories and mail the attached reply form back to us." These categories were academic, co-curricular, health and sports.

Apart from the certificates many donations and sponsorships and our strategic partners Amana Takaful helped us to achieve our financial targets. Furthermore, in order to spread the message, we initiated the Green Ribbon Campaign which was both symbolic of the spirit of support for the army and spreads awareness about Give to those who gave. It is with great pride that we say, most school students, even non - Interactors were seen wearing a green ribbon and supporting this venture."

On June 28, 2008 a ceremony will be held at HNB Towers Conference Hall, Colombo 10 to grant the wishes of the children. The multitude of wishes includes computers, bicycles, organs, violins, and educational materials.

As one of its many community service projects aimed at children this year, through Project Sunshine, the Interact District 3220 with Amana Takaful Insurance took upon themselves the responsibility of colour washing the Accident Ward of the Lady Ridgeway Children's Hospital in Borella was able to paint the ward brightly and add a more child friendly atmosphere to Sri Lanka's only accident ward dedicated solely to children.

With the launch of its website in March, the project soon gained momentum, and the organizing committee was able to forge yet another co-operate partnership with Multilac Paints which offered the Interactors a generous 50% discount on all required paint.

Green Life 360 – A new dimension to conservation which was initiated as "Green life" in 2006 has become a permanent fixture of the Interact calendar in response to an international call to take action against pressing environmental issues we face as a planet. GL 360 hoped to use the project to inculcate environment friendly values within Sri Lankan youth. As individuals about to take to hand the reigns that guide Sri Lanka our youth require proper methodologies in order that they may successfully initiate and develop sustainable recycling and environmental conservation measures and it was such a need that the project aimed to suffice. "Green Life 360" – the sequel to "Green Life," hoped to take those same intentions to a newer level in an effort to address as many an environmental issue as possible.

GL360 consisted primarily of 5 phases each of which approached a different environmental issue prevalent in Sri Lanka. The 1st phase addressed the much-needed aspect of Recycling in Sri Lanka. The phase involved the collection and recycling of plastic material, which are items that most commonly and rapidly pollute the environment. Interact Clubs were asked to collect as many plastic bottles as they can during a month's period after which the collected items were handed over for recycling to a designated recycling plant. The issue of coastal pollution was addressed in the 2nd phase of the project and involved the cleanup of a polluted coastline in Colombo. The phase was successfully completed and saw the participation of over 60 enthusiastic Interactors whose spirits were not even slightly dampened by the unexpected rainfall.

The third phase of the project involved a reforestation Campaign in Galle. Over 30 Interactors travelled from Colombo to Galle to participate in the full day reforestation program, which not only helped the participants play an active role in the rehabilitation effort but also helped them learn from and value those who have dedicated their lives in helping sustain what sustains us. The 4th and 5th phases were held conjunctively and the focus of the phases were on helping create innovative solutions and environmental awareness methods within a limited duration by means of a series of trivial and enjoyable activities. The "Workshop for a greener tomorrow" was the final instalments of GL360 and its program included an interactive seminar on water quality, a slideshow competition, as well as a series of activities aimed at stimulating the young mind in helping shape a greener tomorrow.

"Vision Camp- Envisioning a brighter tomorrow" was initiated this year as part of Interact's commitment to long-term sustainable projects to tackle prevalent health issues affecting children in Sri Lanka. "Vision Camp" jointly with Amana Takaful Insurance and the Rotary Clubs of Colombo Midtown, Colombo Millennium City and Kolonnawa was specifically focused on fighting avoidable child blindness was carried out in three schools in the Galle and Kalutara districts.

"We were able to carry out the screening of over 1300 students aged 6-10, and provide those affected with visual aids," remarked project chairperson Int. Janeen Fernando. "What was unique about this project was that Interactors themselves underwent training to carry out the initial mass screening." Project secretary Int. Kareem Noordeen pointed out the potential for continuity as "now there are a fully trained and experienced group of over 60 Interactors to help expand this project. Vision Camp has great potential to expand into a flagship community service project of District 3220."

"Overall we have throughout this year attempted to strike a balance between the more direct service projects such as Give to those who gave and Project sunshine with long-term projects such as Vision Camp and Greenlife 360 which have less visible results but are just as important," explains District Interact Representative, Zahrah Cader. "As Interact keeps growing we hope its service projects will keeping expanding into new areas and attain even greater success."

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