Volunteerism promotes positive attitudes in me
My first childhood achivement was to be appointed as a youth secretary at red Cross as as result of forming a Red Ross Youth club in my school and being the first president of it. I worked closely with the branch and they identified my keen interest on women issues and invited me to work with them on women empowering projects. Later I got the opportunity to expose myself to a large number of projects that had a huge imapct on the society.
My role as the Sri Lanka Branch Youth Secretary at the young age of 17 years due to my leadership and interest was challenging to me. I worked there for two and half years. I was exposed to work with over youth volunteers, experts, project managers and other organizations. Community projects limited to school gradually turned to be national projects which means team work always counted. At Red Cross I was inspired and motivated to write convincing project proposals, lead board meetings and prepare budgets, pay field visits whenever requested to distant places and engage in research. It was always team work and competition.
At Red Cross one of the best programs I ever initiated was was to hold a career guidance session for students from three girls schools with the support of leading feminists comprising of doctors, lawyers etc on the opportunities available for women today and how globalization has opened new study and job opportunities for young talented women in the contemporary society. we organized a three day intensive training workshop for rural women in the Southern Part of my country (Ambalangoda) to be able to start their own business in a small scale and help their children to go to school. We approached Jobs net, a leading employment agency to conduct 2-3 month free vocational training.we held health sessions on HIV/AIDS, Drugs and counseling.
All these involved a lot of effort and commitment. I still remember those inspirable memories. I used to go after school hours where it was situated miles away from my school and spend my evening hours at the Branch and persuaded others to do the same. I had to balance my school work along with official work and that was indeed challenging to me. We had to keep up the standards of the branch and maintain the 1st position of the branch from the whole district. I gained experience through my commitment in Red Cross. My traveling to many parts of the country and being responsible for things I did and others did that have a huge impact on others in the organization was challenging. When finding resources to support our programmes was a difficult task as we cannot expect everyone to be fond of our initiatives. Convincing the donors, sponsors was as hard as not everyone wanted to fund the project proposals we take to them. Managing the time scales, budgets and people we are approaching was so challenging. Keeping the team spirit and being a leader motivating them even when your spirits can be down sometimes is very inspiring. All these work depended on the strength on the team; one looses the place the team goes down. Apart from this being able to get support from high authorities, urban councils, media support was not easy. Being prepared as a team to alternatives, changes that can take place in the crucial moments of a programme was even more challenging. Politics, attitudes and behavior of people in the society will have a huge impact on our activities. It is not always easy to change someone's attitude, behavior and perceptions about us instantly. All of us as individuals in a team need to play that role in order to achieve the goal. It will take time to make people believe in our concepts. Especially sponsors and donors. We had to take ideas collectively to groups and we had to look at things as a whole and not solely on one clue.
Overall, my first expereince as a youth leader granted me to explore different aspects of a project, let it be from raising funds to evaluation and monitoring. It was all a beautiful experience that came out of painful assignments. At the end of the day to see those wonderful smiles of these women encouraged us more and more. It showed us that we achieved what we were waiting for.