February 17, 2020
District Governor Senake Amerasinghe
Rotary World President Mark Daniel Maloney
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you Senake for organizing this special event tonight and thank you Mark for joining all the way from Alabama. It’s a pleasure to be with you tonight to celebrate the long, productive presence Rotary has had in Sri Lanka.
I was pleased to learn that for over 90 years Rotary has been making substantial humanitarian contributions across the island. Americans have often had the opportunity to work in partnership with local Rotarians. The launching of the Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Centre by the Rotary Club of Colombo, and the subsequent donation of mammography and ultrasound scanner to the Center’s breast cancer screening facility by the Rotary Club of Birmingham, Alabama is exactly the kind of partnership and friendship that has made Rotary such an admired agent of positive change around the world.
With over 1.2 million members and 35,000 clubs globally, Rotary truly has the reach and means to unite people and create lasting change in communities across the planet. Rotary is one of the estimated (by Asia Development Bank) 20,000 civil society organizations in Sri Lanka and millions around the world. “Civil Society” is often interpreted as the opposition or a third political force, when in fact “civil society” is just a way of describing a community of citizens linked by common interests and collective activity.
Rotary remains such a powerful and persistent presence by harnessing the good will of individuals around the world to the tune of 16 million volunteer hours each year.! Rotary has shown definitively that by doing what you can, where you can, people can make a positive difference in one another’s lives.
And this is truly the importance of civil society organizations with their community centric initiatives. Congratulations to Rotary International and Rotary Sri Lanka for connecting people around the world to shape the future one community at a time.
Since independence 72 years ago, Sri Lanka and the United States have enjoyed a tremendous friendship and forged lasting partnerships across the spectrum of society. Civil society has done so much in linking our communities around common causes that benefit us all, and Rotary International has created lasting change through passion and perseverance in both our countries and all around the world. So, for all your efforts I raise my glass and propose a toast:
To Rotary Club and to all your partners. To Colombo and Birmingham. To Sri Lanka and the United States. May we continue to work together to connect cultures to champion peace, fight disease, improve lives around the world, and to inspire others to be agents of positive change wherever they may be.