Initiated in the RI Year 2020-21, “TogetherSL” represents the monumental effort and passion the Rotaractors all around the country put into this movement for the betterment of the society. This massive endeavor, which is being carried out jointly by all the Rotaract Clubs in RI District 3220 to further develop interconnectedness, focuses on the development of communities in the rural areas of Sri Lanka. The specialty this year is to emphasize primarily on the Seven Areas of Focus of Rotary. It extends further by establishing the Rotaract brand, expanding the above seven areas and providing the necessary awareness with the intention of providing sustainable solutions through this project.
Urbanization is not the only way to develop a country or make people comfortable. It must include localism. Based upon this sentiment, “TogetherSL” further contributes to regional development by adding value to existing resources. Elaborating on this, District Rotaract Representative for the RI Year 2021-22, Rtn. Rtr. PP Akhila Wijetunga stated, “TogetherSL is not just a project that covers the Seven Areas of Focus of Rotary, it will create new prospects for people to live a fulfilling life. We work to make it happen. It will be a project that will make a positive difference in the community and the environment.”
Planned in a colossal scale extending to the farthest corners of the island, TogetherSL adopts a holistic approach in its execution. Assuring the participation of all clubs within the RI District 3220, the Rotaract District Steering Committee’s Regional Action Team formulated the plan incorporating all clubs as an integral part of its implementation. Based on the Seven Areas of Focus of Rotary, the clubs were divided into 7 distinct teams, each team being assigned to a community which they need to develop in line with their respective focus areas. Following are the Seven Focus Areas of Rotary and the communities in which the respective teams set into action.
- Peace and Conflict Resolution – Madiwela, Colombo
Peace and Conflict Resolution alludes to the identification of the various structural causes of conflict such as poverty, inequality, ethnic tensions, lack of access to education and unequal distribution of resources. Under this focus area, TogetherSL attempts to recognize and minimize the conflict-inducing factors in the Madiwela area, effectively assisting marginalized groups at risk of violence or persecution. With motivational sessions and vocational training targeting the youth in this community, the endeavor directly addressed the root-causes of violence and conflict in the area manifested in the form of rampant drug abuse and a general lack of opportunity.
- Disease Prevention and Treatment – Galewela Galapamula, Dambulla
In a proactive effort to combat diseases and ensure the wellbeing of the community, the TogetherSL team incorporated a multi-phased approach, the first of which focused on eradicating health related misinformation and ensuring that the community was armed with the necessary knowledge. Awareness sessions were held concerning non-communicable diseases (NCDs), their prevention and the various risk factors associated with them. In a secondary phase, special equipment was donated to the Dewahuwa Regional Hospital with aim of improving the clinical facilities available for the locals.
- Water and Sanitation – Iddagahapitiya, Wathugahaulla
Clean water, sanitation, and hygiene are basic necessities for a healthy environment and a productive life. With this sentiment in mind, Team 3 of TogetherSL set about ensuring these necessities for the people of Iddagahapitiya by conducting reparations for the community tube well and raising awareness on the importance of using and consuming only clean water.
- Maternal and Child Health – Malwaththa, Yatiyanthota
Maternal and infant mortality is still an issue significant enough to be addressed in the rural areas of Sri Lanka. Oftentimes the mothers in these communities lack the substantial knowledge vital for the wellbeing of both the mother and the child. TogetherSL focused particularly on this educational aspect of parenthood, educating the mothers on nutrition, mental health, hygiene and the early childhood development of their babies. The initiative also took steps to expand the clinic area of the community for the convenience of the young and expectant mothers.
- Basic Education and Literacy – Thanavodai Grama Niladari Division, Sanganai East
Mainly focusing on the children of this community, a series of interactive sessions were done to engage the children into the process of education and providing much needed motivation for them to pursue their educational aspirations. This sentiment was further reinforced by developing a common study area for these students.
- Economic and Community Development – Ihala Bopitiya, Rathnapura
Centered around the vast agricultural community of Ihala Bopitiya, TogetherSL took steps into developing and encouraging the entrepreneurial movement emerging in the area in the form of organic fertilizer production. A comprehensive strategy was implemented by the team to establish a self-sustaining economy surrounding this product. This was accomplished by guiding the entrepreneurs through the process of registering their businesses, fostering a demand for their product and raising awareness on the ways in which further value could be added to their product for increased gains for the producers.
- Support the Environment – Negombo Lagoon
The Negombo Lagoon represents a vast natural resource rich in both beauty and economic opportunity to the locals. However, both these factors have been immensely diminished due to major problems relating to garbage disposal and pollution among the nearby communities. In a foundational step to confront this predicament, the team established a garbage collection point in the area. Furthermore, to ensure the invested participation of the locals in this endeavor, the team raised awareness among the residents about the plethora of economic opportunities that will come their way in the form of tourism and clean fisheries due to a lack of careless pollution.
Through the multipronged execution of this endeavor based around these specific areas, TogetherSL focuses on the relevant regional development needs and at the same time fulfills the role of a social mission in the midst of the pandemic. This initiative is not simply a singular project but a collective engagement by Rotaractors around the country which adds immense value to the society.