This weekend I am sharing this space with an organization that has an inspiring journey of creating value, rendering great service and moving towards achieving health promotion. As much as they have been attentive to many causes over time, they are now humbly in action to support the COVID-19 pandemic that is in dire need of consistent support. With today’s conversation I hope to see all of us being invigorated to make great big things happen, even if it means to start with simple beginnings. I warmly welcome PHF Past President Rtn. Gehan de Alwis representing the Rotary Club of Colombo Regency and the Project Co-Chair for their Covid19 Relief Project.
Everything big starts with a little positive spirit. How did the Rotary Club of Colombo Regency’s journey begin? On the 20th of March 2002, a group of community minded young professionals met with a vision to strengthen the Rotary movement in Sri Lanka by starting a new club with a new image; progressive, young and dynamic with Rotary's active concern for the community. Two months later on the 24th of May 2002, the Rotary Club of Colombo Regency received its charter from Rotary International. The Rotary Club of Colombo Regency's average age is 45 years. The 40 members of the club hope to attract young upcoming professionals in the business community who have a genuine concern for humanity, and are willing to give their creativity, effort and hands on service to uplift the lives of those less fortunate.
What inspired the organization to take significant steps in the course of eradicating the COVID-19 pandemic faced by the nation? Our inspiration to help in any situation is an alert mechanism that is triggered whenever we see a need for humanity. In its two-decade journey, Regency has consistently helped in some way during every dire situation our island nation faced. From the 2004 tsunami, to the IDP situation, the dengue-outbreaks and the recent Covid pandemic. In 2020, when our district assisted the Health Ministry with PCR testing equipment, Regency was very much a part of it. Rotary as a global organization has been assisting the pandemic across the world and our club Regency is doing our bit for the global cause.
Whilst eradicating it completely is a very tall task, our focus with the recent project was to aid the critical need to halt the number of patients who rapidly move from Oxygen need to complete Oxygen depletion.
Despite the tragic nature of the situation, how important is it to bring attention to creative solution, positive attitude and contribution at this stage? A positive attitude, self-discipline, and to add to that, even good-nutrition, strong immunity and an overall lifestyle change will make all the difference in any situation. Temporary curtailment of what we consider “normal” is paramount in this situation. Whilst creativity is important, Rotary’s goal is always to address needs that make long-term differences; our execution of this difference can be creative depending on the nature of the ask; but we always look at service that makes an impact, and that is sustainable and addresses a burning need. When Regency got wind of the situation on the eve of 16th May 2021; the situation was already dire and we could only work on an accelerated “as soon as possible” mode. The equipment was needed yesterday, lives were already at stake due to the inability to provide the oxygen and not due to ‘lack of the oxygen” itself; wall units meant the ward couldn’t be occupied during the installation and we also had to contend with travel restrictions; care for those working in the units and club members themselves travelling. A timeline was automatically induced when within sixty minutes of this announcement, we were able to raise the initial requirement of Rs.1.3Mn for the Oxygen wall unit from within the Club members via the Club WhatsApp group. Within ten days we raised the balance requirements and completed our undertaking of the project scope; that’s the power of Rotary; ordinary people, working together to accomplish extraordinary things!
When the Rotary Club of Colombo Regency decided to reach out to support the national cause, what were some of the dire needs and issues that you identified that needed to be fulfilled regionally or on the ground level? Regency has helped this national cause in several ways from donating to the need for the PCR machines, to facilitating the vaccine drives and recently, in assisting the need for Oxygen related equipment at the Panadura Base Hospital. With the rising number of Covid-19 patients being admitted to the Panadura Base Hospital (PBH); the facility was stretched beyond limits to offer respiratory care for those with lung infections. The ICU was insufficient to handle demands for urgent Oxygen therapy and carting cylinders was not an option. PBH desperately needed an interim fully-equipped High Dependency Unit (HDU) to offer care for those that needed Oxygen immediately. The time-critical need at PBH was a system combining Oxygen Supplied from a central Oxygen concentrator via a network of copper tubes to twenty beds (expandable to forty) across three wards, and High-Flow-Nasal-Oxygen Cannula units for more critical patients.
In supporting a national level issue that also spans globally, community support is imperative in the process. How can our community connect with and support your next step? A Community based project from the Rotary District 3220 for Sri Lanka and Maldives called ‘Stop the Spread’ is presently underway. At this juncture; the community can simply help by staying indoors adhere to the requests for social distancing, getting vaccinated and whenever possible looking after their own little localities by donating food rations. As we’re now focusing on oxygen related requirements of other Base Hospitals by expanding on the success model of PBH, the community can connect with us via our social media avenues:
RCCR Blog at: https://reliefforsrilanka.blogspot.com/ Facebook at: @RotaryColomboRegency,
Instagram at: @regency_rotary_club and on Twitter @CMB_Regency