Rotaract keeps Negombo’s jewels intact

Jewels, in a metaphorical sense, are found in all parts of Sri Lanka. This perhaps could be the very reason why the country has also been acknowledged as the ‘paradise isle’ of the Indian Ocean since time immemorial. These jewels or in other words talented folks are the country’s assets. Having realized this, Raveen Liyanage of Negombo, decided to bring together all the jewels scattered in town, and put them in a cluster so they can shine even brighter, once unified.

Raveen, the founder president of Rotaract Negombo, is a youngster with a vision. At only 21, he has more or less fulfilled his duty towards his hometown, by launching the club and steering it during its maiden year amidst numerous hardships.
When asked what inspired him to start the club, Raveen said that he thought the time he spent with friends was too precious to be wasted, especially given the capabilities everyone of them has exhibited over the years, in fields they preferred.

“Imasha Fernando, who is attached to the Rotaract Club of ANC, is the person who first suggested that I should start a club in Negombo. He was in fact surprised to hear that we did not have a club until then,” the immediate past president recalled. Determined, Raveen then approached some of his close friends, who later become founder-members of the club.

At the inception, Raveen managed to find 18 members for the club. These members comprised his friends and friends of friends, all who wanted to see Negombo transform, in a positive way. Accordingly, the first club meeting was held in a classroom at Mari Stella College Negombo on November 11, 2012. Officials of the club were elected at the inaugural meeting itself.

Ace of Christmas, the first fundraiser by the club managed to raise Rs.18, 000 in profits, the past president remarked. By selling handmade Christmas cards however, the club, whilst raising funds, also earned a reputation for themselves in Negombo. “It is only through this project, people learnt about the existence of the club,” he added. The club was chartered two months after its inception in December 2012.

In February, with the monies collected, the club landed on the ‘Smile’ project where they had carried out a two-day workshop, in Math and English, for underprivileged school children at St Xavier’s College in Kattuwa. The lecturers were the members of the club itself, and beneficiaries of the project were students of grade seven and eight of the respective school.

Since then, the club has carried out an assortment of fundraising activities to collect money over the past year. The club has utilized those funds to benefit the less privileged. According to the president, the club has a buffer fund which comprises the money collected through projects, and the membership fee collected from each member on a monthly basis.

A team representing the Negombo’s Rotaract club contested the Inter- Rotaract Basketball Tournament (IBRT) early this year. The past president said that the club, despite being new, maintains a healthy rapport with members of fellow clubs and is looking at utilizing every possible opportunity to showcase their talents.

Currently, the meetings of the club are held as frequently as thrice a month, at the president’s home. At the annual general meeting held two weeks ago, Shalinda Leanage was elected president for year 2013/2014. Shalinda too is a founder member of the club. At present, the club has about 40 members.
Open to enthusiastic individuals between the age group of 16 and 30, the Rotaract club of Negombo welcomes members from all communities, cultures and strata of society. If one wishes to join the club, he or she has to forward an application to the president, as per the protocol.

Spelling the way forward, Raveen said the club is now planning on having yet another car wash, as means of raising funds to have an Oktoberfest, a German festival, for the first time in Negombo in collaboration with the respective Embassy.
Raveen did not forget to thank parents of all members for the support they have extended in all means and at all times.

“We do have fun. But the purpose of this club is not merely entertaining the members. We have a mission, which is to first identify talented youth in Negombo, and secondly, to ensure that they receive adequate exposure in whatever field concerned,” Raveen expressed. Nonetheless, the pioneer member of the club strongly believed that being an out-stationer, in this day and age, should not be a barrier for youth to emerge and shine.

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