As the economy of Sri Lanka collapsed leaving 21 million people without food and medicines, UNICEF and Rotary have forged a partnership to deliver life-saving medicines, clean drinking water, education material, and other critical supplies to children and families in the country. The project titled Lifeline Sri Lanka banks on Rotary’s global network and the alumni from Sri Lanka’s leading schools living overseas.
Explaining the initiative, past RI president K R Ravindran said “as 80 per cent of our medical supplies are imported, with foreign currency reserves running out because of the economic crisis, essential medicines are not available and our healthcare system is close to collapse. Lives are in peril, surgeries are being postponed and children and pregnant women are most at risk.”
So Rotarians of Sri Lanka will drive donations into this fund from their friends and families and Sri Lanka’s alumni. UNICEF will use the collected funds to procure essential medicines, medical equipment, water purifiers and school stationery to support vulnerable communities. The initiative was launched in Colombo where RI director A S Venkatesh participated, along with UNICEF’s regional director for South Asia George Laryea-Adjei, Ravindran and RI District 3220 DG Pubudu de Zoysa.
“UNICEF is delighted to partner with RI and this timely partnership comes at a time when families can no longer afford meals, medicine stocks are depleting rapidly, and schools do not have basic stationery. Time is of essence, and we need to urgently meet the needs of the most vulnerable children and provide timely support,” said Laryea-Adjei.
Venkatesh added, “I was very happy to support the idea of this unique partnership when the RI Board met to discuss this proposal. Our Board is happy that Rotarians in Sri Lanka are playing a critical role in supporting their country in this time of distress.”
Ravindran said it was significant that two “prestigious organisations” — Rotary and UNICEF — with a longstanding history of collaboration since 1988, especially in the polio eradication drive, had come together to help a “nation in distress. Such a unison mandates absolute credibility, transparency and accountability for success and both organisations possess these attributes in abundance, giving Sri Lankans living all over the world an opportunity to donate for life-saving causes, knowing their funds are being put to the best use.”
The donations will be given directly to UNICEF, which will buy medicines and supplies directly at the best prices, and ship them directly to Sri Lanka. “The government will clear the consignments for us on a priority basis and store it in their warehouses. A joint supervisory committee with a majority of members from Rotary and UNICEF will ensure proper distribution,” said DG Pubudu.
To ensure transparency, details of every contribution and expenditure, along with the total of funds raised, will be displayed on the dedicated website.
Donations can be made on https://lifelinesrilanka.rotary.unicef.org.au.