Zdravo! Hello! Ayobowan! This project is one of the biggest cultural exchanges of 2020 between Serbia and Sri Lanka. Zdravo is a joint project done in collaboration with 10 clubs; the Rotaract, Interact and Rotary clubs of the Colombo North family RID 3220 and Serbia and Montenegro RID 2483. 

Serbia is a country in the European continent seperated from Sri Lanka by 7002 km of land and sea. The pandemic which escalated into a second wave in our small nation rendered most foreign travel to be put on hold. The year 2020 has turned into the ‘virtual’ year where meetings, conferences, seminars and even musical shows had to be been transformed into a virtual platform. The Colombo North family with the guidance of Rtr. PHF PP Marshad Barry brought forth an idea to cross international borders and ‘go’ to Europe whilst staying in the comforts of our own homes. This is the ideal project that enabled the participants to dive into the culture of another country 7002 km away and also to showcase and promote our nation’s beauty to them.

Through special contacts of Rtn. PHF PP Marshad Barry the Rotary, Rotaract and Interact clubs of Serbia and Montenegro district were eager to jump on board the project with the greatest enthusiasm to bond with us Sri Lankans and to learn about our nation known to be the Pearl of the Indian Ocean.

The collaboration led to the first of many future exchanges, project Zdravo, that took place on the 17th of October 2020 via the online platform Zoom. It was a two hour session that started at 8.00pm local time (4.30pm Serbian time), which blossomed into an evening full of culture and friendship. 

The event took place in the midst of distinguished persons in the movement from not only Serbia and Sri Lanka, but also from other countries around the world.

The session was moderated by the vibrant moderator Rtr. Afrah Niyas of the Rotaract Club of Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo. Rtr. Taalib Jayah the President of the Rotaract Club of ICBS manned the on-screen presentations behind the scenes.

Everyone was welcomed to the evening by the two Rotarians representing Sri Lanka and Serbia for the session; Rtn. PHF. PP Marshad Barry, the Youth Service Chair of the Rotary Club of Colombo North and Rtr. Marijana Dojcinovic, the coordinator of Intertarct of the Rotary Club of Serbia and Montenegro.

The Presidents of the two Rotaract Clubs and the two Interact Clubs from Serbia introduced themselves and their club. This was followed by the Presidents of the Sri Lankan Rotaract and Interact clubs giving a brief overview of their respective clubs and how we contribute to the good work that we do here as a movement. With each club introduction, an element of Sri Lanka was explained and shown to the participants. 

A tantalizing presentation on Sri Lankan cuisine was shown by the Interact Club of Carey College. The Interact club of Colombo North demonstrated the uniqueness of Sri Lankan cultural dance through a video that highlighted the dance techniques and the special costumes used. Sri Lanka is a country where multi-ethnicities and muli-cultures coexist in harmony. The Interact club of Wesley College did a presentation on the theme ‘One country, One nation’ which celebrated the variety within the Sri Lankan population. 

The Rotaractors continued from there. The beauty of our small island, it’s sunny beaches, it’s cool and succulent rainforrests, it’s sky-high mountains and the richness of our history has attracted many from around the world. A video on the breathtaking beauty of our country was shown by the Rotaract Club of Colombo North. The Rotaract Club of Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo showcased the beauty of the Sri Lankan folk songs as well as the talents within the club. President Rtr. Thanuja Kotawelagedra; guitarist, Rtr. Charuka Deshapriya; drummer, Rtr. Kanchana Wijenayaka; flutist, and Nimesh Balasooriya; vocalist, performed a Sri Lankan folk song which was appreciated by many.

Rotaract is something close to the hearts of everyone present. To represent the importance of Rotaract in our country, the Rotaract Club of Imperial College of Business Studies presented the Rotaract song. For the final element, the Rotaract Club of Singer Sri Lanka played what brings deep pride and gratitude to our hearts; the Sri Lankan National Anthem.  

Throughout these demonstrations the Serbians commented on the beauty of Sri Lanka and expressed their great excitement to visit our island one day. They mentioned their enthusiasm to see the beaches of our country as theirs is a country surrounded by land.

The evening ended with the closing remarks given by Rtn. Lucian Pereira, the President of the Rotary Club of Colombo North and Rtn. Relja Mirovic, the President of the Rotary Club of Beograd Skadarlija. 

Project Zdravo was able to bring together members of 10 different clubs from Serbia and Sri Lanka. It has laid the cornerstones to building a long lasting bond between the Serbian and Sri Lankan clubs involved. Through the continued friendship between the clubs there is hope of a future member exchange between Serbia and Sri Lanka giving the members of both countries the opportunity to experience the countries in person and to solidify the bonds. A unique aspect of this project is the involvement of Rotary, Rotaract and Interact of both countries making its impact much greater. 

A seperate session was to be organized by the Serbian clubs, specially the Rotarians, later in November.

Project was Chaired by Rtr. Sandamini Liyanage. Committee members who were behind the successful event, Rtr. Thanuja Kotawelagedara, Rtr. Charuka Deshapriya, Rtr. Kanchana Wijenayake, Rtr. Afrah Niyas.

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