Contacts

University of Moratuwa, Katubedda, Sri Lanka.

rotractmoraalumini@gmail.com

+94 713 826 109

Category: International Services

BlogDebractorInternational Services

Debractor 2.0 – The friendly debate on COVID19 and Rotaract Service

The friendly debate continues…

“Don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, focus on what to do next. Spend your energies on moving forward toward finding the answer.” – Denis Waitley, Author and Motivational Speaker 

On 11th of July 2021, “Debractor 2.0” the successor of the friendly debate “Debractor” was held with the collaborative effort of Rotaract Club of Alumni of University of Moratuwa, RID 3220 and Rotaract Club of Katmandu, RID 3292. It has been more than a year and a half since the COVID-19 global pandemic is challenging everyone’s life. And I should say, Rotaract service for the community has become significant than ever. Having more than one year of experience in providing Rotaract services during the pandemic, now it is time to recap and discuss whether the pandemic has hampered the Rotaract Service. Hence, the topic for the debate was,

“COVID-19 was/wasn’t a barrier to rendering Rotaract services”.  

The event was held on 11th of July 2021 at 6.45 pm in Sri Lankan time/ 7.00 pm in Nepalese time via Zoom platform. More than 70 participants from different Rotaract clubs from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Kenya, Mexico, Indonesia, and India also witnessed this thought-provoking debate. 

Introducing the Teams

The impartial moderator of the debate was Rtr. PP Abhijeet Venkatraman Balaji, RAC Coimbatore Millennium, District Trainer, RID 3201- India. Ten Rotaractors from the two clubs were split into two debating teams. Each team consisted of members from both clubs debating together to prove their point-of-view. The composition of the two teams was as follows,

Team A (Covid 19 was  a barrier to render Rotaract services)Team B (Covid 19 wasn’t  a barrier to render Rotaract services)
Rtr. Dulaj DilshanRtr. Paveen Perera
Rtr. Akhila SeneviratneRtr. Chamal Kuruppu
Rtr. Sahan WickramageRtr. Apar Wasti
Rtr. Aadhar WastiRtr. Shrishav Adhikari
Rtr. Diwa GhimireRtr. Bipin Wasti
Each team consisted of members from both clubs debating together…

“What is the one thing you enjoyed during the Covid-19 period”

With the invitation of Rtr. Netra Ramtel,  President of Rotaract Club of Kathmandu,  event was started with the opening Speech of  Rtr.Ronali, the chairperson of the Debractor 2.0 phase 1 in Rotaract Club of Alumni University of Moratuwa.  Before the beginning of the debate, Rtr. PP Abhijeet (our impartial moderator) remembered last year’s memories from Debractor 1.0 and also encouraged the audience by asking “what is the one thing you enjoyed during the covid 19 period”. Regardless of the cons of this period, it is delightful to know that our Rotaractors were courageous enough to find a silver light.

Let the debate begin…

The debate consisted of three rounds enabling teams to discover and prove more ideas. The 1st round was named 90MM as every speaker was given a chance to shoot their ideas (Reminder: Still a friendly debate). And the 2nd round: Do Really, team members can question opponents (Reminder again: Things are heating up, yet a friendly debate).  And 3rd round, Ding Dong where the audience can share their opinion of the debate topic.

The reality of virtual

Rtr. Paveen pointed out that Covid-19  was a barrier to public speaking with virtual speaking compared to physical meets. Rtr. Chamal explained how the barrier was overcome with a wise example,

“Think about the barrier you build upon the river and if the flow is really high it overcomes the barrier and you can’t see that barrier at all”.

Further, he pointed out that virtual meetings give the opportunity to people who cannot be there physically.  Then, Rtr. Apar added that in virtual meetings, the participants are focused on the session. 

Then Rtr. Diwa Ghimire from Team A contrasted his point by adding that compared to the physical sessions it is demanding to measure whether participants actually grasp the requirement and ideas. In addition, the organizing team cannot exactly understand how participants are impacted with the project”.

Community Service, or is it?

Rtr. Shrishav questioned Rtr. Aadhar on a point that he mentioned earlier, “Community service has become an awareness program avenue, rather than community service avenue”. He questioned, “Isn’t an awareness program part of community service? ”. 

What do you think?

Conclusion

The moderator invited Rtr. Ajay from the audience to share their impressions and opinion of the debate. Rtr. Ajay emphasized that we should actually get a learning experience from the Covid explorer path of Rotaract which enables forming new ways for Rotaract to reach out to the community and discover paths of empowering the lives.

With a Thank-You speech by Rtr. Kavinda Senarathne, president of Rotaract Club of  Alumni of University of Moratuwa, the Debractor 2.0 marked another eventful day in the Rotaract calendar by enlightening the path to serve better.

written by: Rtr. Geethika Sandamali
edited by: Rtr. Reshan Dissanayake

BlogInternational Services

Let us defeat COVID together – ‘Diary in a Pandemic’

Facing the Coronavirus, we must cultivate the best of ourselves and rely on science and education, verify any information and share knowledge.

Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director – General

“Diary in a Pandemic” is a sub-project of Rotaract Alumni Mora’s initiative, ‘ Battle with Pandemic’. Our International Service avenue proudly delivered the project in collaboration with fellow international Rotaract clubs. The aim of the project was to give an insight into different strategies adopted by different nations to stand against the COVID – 19 global pandemic. We believe that the insight we gained would help nations to reshape their own strategies for effective survival amid the pandemic.

Firstly, we sent invitations to our fellow Rotaract Clubs including the project details. We kindly invited them to collaborate with the project by preparing a video documentary that captures the effect of COVID- 19 on their lives and most importantly their survival stories.  Subsequently, we published the first video of the series on the 17th of September 2020 featuring the pandemic story of Malaysia. The final video was about how Sri Lankans battle against the global pandemic.

Here we turn the pages of ‘Diary in a Pandemic’ …

Malaysia

https://www.facebook.com/552482028132671/videos/323653988894935

The first page of the “Diary in Pandemic”  was dedicated to Malaysia and we published it on 17th September 2020. Especially, we convey our thanks to Rtr. Kasturi Leoh Linggam of Rotaract Club of Manipal International University for raising her voice across the globe by giving a fresh start to the project.

Canada

https://www.facebook.com/552482028132671/videos/2748126418788536

On the 27th of September 2020, we turned another page of our diary which was about the pandemic story of Canada. Rtr. Josh Fisher, President of Rotaract Club of Kelowna aptly expressed his COVID-19 experience. Their incorporation of state-of-the-art digital mechanisms for emergent communications during the pandemic is worthy to consider.

Cambodia

https://www.facebook.com/552482028132671/videos/1296824987338207

Cambodia, a developing country splendid with its own heritage stands against the pandemic being an exemplary nation for others. Therefore, the third video added to the diary was from Cambodia. Rtr. Em Chornai from Rotaract Club of Battambang Youth openly described the COVID-19 status there adding some voice cuts from local people as well.

Nepal

https://www.facebook.com/552482028132671/videos/2756116991327597

Turning another page, we published the pandemic story of Nepal on 18th October 2020 which was presented by Rtr. Nikita Luitel from Rotaract Club of Kathmandu. She emotionally requested to adapt to the new normal with the hope of surviving the pandemic together by staying apart.

USA

https://www.facebook.com/552482028132671/videos/985393128534881

As a leading country in the world, the COVID-19 story of the USA was shared in the diary on 29th October 2020. It was a collective effort of Rotaractors of Oakland Community Rotaract led by its president, Rtr. Brooks. Evidently, it presented the consequences of not taking the threat of this outbreak seriously. They proudly noted the importance of social service carried out by the Rotarians, Rotaractors, and other Grassroots organizations for those in need in a background of social dilemmas.

Peru

https://www.facebook.com/552482028132671/videos/399178771251826

Certainly, the need of addressing the issues of medical illiteracy, informal jobs, the digital divide, and the gaps between social status is crucial in a pandemic situation. This necessity is highly showcased by the page dedicated to Peru. The video, presented by the Rtr. Jose Plasencia from Rotaract Club of Lima was on the air since 11th November 2020.

Sri Lanka

https://www.facebook.com/552482028132671/videos/4112021998811240

As a small island in South Asia, Sri Lanka battles with the pandemic effectively but with limited resources. The free health sector plays a major role in Sri Lankan Covid response. Rtr. Shenali Welikala of Rotaract Club of Alumni of University of Moratuwa raised her voice on behalf of Sri Lanka on 17th January 2021. She pointed out how she used this time to achieve her life goals by facing the challenge positively. Moreover, she conveyed the importance of little preventive efforts that would save our loved ones. All and all as she said, ‘Prevention is better than cure’.

A collective effort of Rotaractors across the globe…

Finally, it needs to remember all the amazing souls behind the successful completion of ‘ Diary in a Pandemic’. Undoubtedly, we would not be able to flip the pages of ‘ Diary in a Pandemic’ without our fellow Rotaractors. They were humble enough to send us their survival stories dedicating their valuable time and effort. Among all, members of our International Service Avenue did a great job from idea generation to coordination throughout this project.

A diary to reshape the future…

In conclusion, ‘Diary in a Pandemic’ brought the survival stories of nations during this global pandemic. It is about how they battle through this adversity, it is to honor the front-line heroes and it is all about our homes and families that keep us safe. In general, humans have the tendency to forget everything easily. Therefore, we believe that our collective effort of archiving our survival stories would be a guiding light not only for now, but also to prevent future adversities as well.

Content By : Rtr. Sahan Wickramage

Written By : Rtr. Odatha Bandara

BlogInternational Services

Debractor – A friendly debate on COVID19 and Rotaract Service

At all times endow with us the desire to serve…, Tell us that we have not lived in vain. ~ Rotaract Invocation

27th July 2020 marked yet another eventful day in the calendar for Rotaract Club of Alumni of University of Moratuwa, RID 3220 and Rotaract Club of Katmandu, RID 3292.  During this time of COVID19 global pandemic where value of service is more meaningful than ever, both of these clubs joined hands to uplift the morale of the Rotaract community through a friendly debate.

A debate accross the Indian Ocean

This event was named “Debractor”, the first ever friendly debate between the Rotaract Clubs of Alumni of University of Moratuwa and Katmandu . The topic of debate was “Covid 19 is/is not a barrier to render Rotaract service”. The event was held from 8pm Sri Lankan time/ 8.15 pm Nepalese time onwards via Google Meets. Ten Rotaractors from these two clubs were split into two debating teams. Each team consisted of members from both clubs debating together to prove their point-of-view. More than 100 participants from different Rotaract clubs from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Kenya,Mexico, Indonesia and India also witnessed this thought provoking debate via Facebook Live.

Introducing the Teams

 The impartial moderator of the debate was Rtr. PP Abhijeet Venkatraman Balaji, RAC Coimbatore Millennium, District Trainer, RID 3201- India. The composition of the two teams were as follows,

Proposition Side
 (Covid 19 is  a barrier to render Rotaract services)
Opposition Side
 (Covid 19 is not a barrier to render Rotaract services)
Rtr. PP Chamal Kuruppu (RCAUOM)Rtr. Malitha Gunawardhana (RCAUOM)
Rtr. Chinthani Kumaradasa (RCAUOM)Rtr. PP Paveen Perera (RCAUOM)
Rtr. Dulaj Dilshan (RCAUOM)Rtr. Geeta Khadka (RCK)
Rtr. Sonu Dangol (RCK)Rtr. Rashik Raj Koirala (RCK)
Rtr. Kritika Dahal (RCK)Rtr. Shrishav Adhikari (RCK)

The opening speeches

Rtr. Kritika from the proposition side delivered the opening argument. She was able to construct the arguments for how the social distancing rules effect fellowship due to emotional disconnection between members despite the virtual meetings. She also mentioned the difficulty to reach underprivileged communities in developing countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka which in turn would create a communication gap between the server and those in need. She emphasized on the financial crisis faced by members and how it would effect membership fee collection.

Rtr. Shrishav opposed the arguments by describing the basics of COVID19 health regulations. He mentioned that Rotaractors can follow hygiene guidelines and carry out the community services in the same way they did before. He also mentioned that virtual meetings are a convenient form of meeting over physical meetings and serves the basic purpose of the meeting.

What about the Rotaract Culture and Fellowship?

Rtr. Dulaj from proposition side reminded the COVID19 is does not halt Rotaract service but is indeed a barrier to service. He mentioned how virtual meetings are ineffective and provides room for members to idle without actually paying attention. He was also concerned with the part of the Rotaract culture which is lost through virtual meetings such as collaring of president at a General Meeting.

Generosity in the time of COVID19

Rtr. Paveen of the opposition destroyed the argument of financial hardships by demonstrating the funds raised by RID 3220 mounting to a total of $550,000 in the span of one week. He also mentioned the donations made by the public of Sri Lanka to the Government of Sri Lanka for COVID19 National fund. He said that such acts of generosity outshines the financial hardships of the the members and the public.

When will we meet again?

Rtr. Chinthani explained how the true essence of fellowship is not brought forward via virtual meetings and argued on Rtr. Paveen’s demonstration stating that the donations collected from one district project cannot forecast the effect on the immense effect to the financial aspect. She elaborated on the international service avenue which suffers due to international travel restrictions thus limiting the cultural exchange and understanding among Rotaract Clubs. Her statements on the effect on International Service Avenue due to COVID19 were followed up by statements from Rtr. Chamal and Rtr. Dulaj who solidified the argument.

Virtual General meetings

Rtr. Sonu proposed how some members are unable to join through virtual meetings due to technological difficulties and that they feel disconnected with their Rotaract clubs which was opposed by Rtr. Paveen stating that the actual statistics have shown an increase in membership attendance for general meetings.

Barrier is not in the vocabulary of a Leader

Rtr. Malitha stated that to be a Rotaractor is to be a leader in the society and that barrier is not in the vocabulary of the leader. He demonstrated how Rotaract Clubs of countries like USA and Italy which are hardly hit by COVID19R rendered a great service to their communities. He mentioned that this is not a barrier but an opportunity to serve the society by thinking outside the box.

Is COVID19 is a barrier for community service?

The moderator, Rtr. Balaji forwarded this question to the opposing team. Rtr. Paveen replied that it is indeed not a barrier. He elaborated on how to serve the community while following health guidelines and reminded that there is ample opportunity to expand the environmental service avenue. Rtr. Geetha demonstrated how you can serve the community by educating the public on COVID19 regulations virtually. She took an example from a local Rotaract club who has served immigrant workers and those in need in time of this pandemic.

Are we saving money and time?

Rtr. Rashik from proposing team showed how finances were reduced for district assemblies and general meetings which can be utilized for much needed community service activities. He also mentioned the importance of the ample personal time available to reflect on the intention of projects and the ability to render better service in these times.

The closing statements

Rtr. Geetha from the proposing side mentioned that it is not the crisis that shines but the quality of decisions we make during the crisis. She concluded her statement by showing how COVID19 can be transformed to be seen as a opportunity to serve the community.

Rtr. Chamal emphasized that although there are alternatives to address difficulties faced by COVID19 itself proves that it is indeed a barrier for Rotaract Service. He showed that the projects abandoned due to restrictions due to social distancing outweigh the new service opportunities that have come up.

Conclusion

Rtr.PP. Balaji, the moderator of the debate commended both the teams for their enthusiastic involvement and the thought provoking arguments. He named Rtr. Chamal and Rtr. Geetha as Best Speakers of the event, Rtr. Chinthani and Rtr. Rashik as Stars of the Debate and Rtr. Paveen and Rtr. Dulaj for the Best Content.

The debate ended successfully with much needed boost of energy for Rotaractors to continue their service!

Rtr. Amali Herath

BlogInternational Services

The Chronicle – Issue 3

We are pleased to present to you The Chronicle- Issue 3, The joint bulletin of Rotaract Club of Alumni of University of Moratuwa and Rotaract Club of Pokhara RID 3292. Rotaract Club of Pokhara is one of the twin clubs of Rotaract Alumni Mora and we have maintained a active partnership of friendship and service throughout the past year. The bulletin features the projects done by the clubs and the joint ventures carried out together.

BlogInternational Services

Creating COVID-19 Awareness

Everyone is limited to their houses, and the whole world is suffering due to COVID 19 virus these days. So as Rotaract Alumni Mora, we have decided to create awareness regarding the current situation and preventive measures taken by different countries. As a Public Relations and International Services combined initiative,we did this through the inputs from our own Rotaractors around the world. Also, our Rotaractor friends from RAC Kathmandu and RAC Alexanderia were glad to help us make this video, contributing with news from their countries. We are happy to get updates from Austraila, Singapore, the USA, Nepal and Egypt.

In the film credits, a big shout out goes to (in the order of appearance)
Rtr. Lok Raj Pandey, from RAC Kathmandu Nepal RID 3292
Rtr. PP. Chathuranga Gallage, from RAC Alumni Mora
Rtr. Kavinga Karunasekara, from RAC Alumni Mora
Rtr. Chethana Dharmawardane, from RAC Alumni Mora
Rtr. Bhanuka Abeygoonawardana, from RAC Alumni Mora
Rtr. Rochelle Silva, from RAC Alumni Mora
Rtr. Habiba Balbaa, from RAC Alexanderia Sporting Egypt RID 2451
Rtr. Vipula Dissanayake, from RAC Alumni Mora
Rtr. Hasitha Wellaboda, from RAC Alumni Mora

Here is the video below.

Rtr. Louise Christine

BlogInternational Services

Journey to the nation of mountains in quest of making new friends – Part 2

After the first stop of Project Mitratā ended in Kathmandu, it was time for us to head towards our 2nd stop, Pokhara the tourism capital of Nepal! Home to some of the highest mountains in the world and the ultimate trekker’s paradise. (Find out more about the Kathmandu adventures here)

With our bags packed we left Kathmandu heading west towards Pokhara. It was a long 6hr drive. Our first stop on the way was Chandragiri hills, where the crew took a cable car ride over a blissful mountain range. At the peak we observed four mountain ranges of Himal. Rtr. Himatha (as usual) engaged in a photographic extravaganza where he was the victim who had to take snaps of each member posing for their social media cover photos. Out of nowhere we heard Rtr. Hasitha calling us and to our awe we finally saw what he was pointing at! It was nothing but Sagarmatha (Mount Everest) in her full glory. After visiting the Shiv Temple on the top of the mountain we continued our trip off to Pokhara, passing mountains, streams and evergreen forests. When we reached Pokahara, we headed off to our hotel where we were hosted by our Rotaract friends in Pokhara. Rtr. Amrith Subedi, who visited Sri Lanka back in October took us to a carnival where we tried out some rides in a ferris wheel.

The following day was yet again an early morning call from Rtr. PP Himatha. “Girls are you awake?” No we weren’t ! We never were ! Finally getting off from bed and freshening up, we caught up with Rtr. Nirmala Subedhi one of the Vice Presidents of Rotaract Club of Pokhara. She is one of the first few certified woman travel guides in Nepal! We were indeed proud to be guided by her. Even though we couldn’t see a clear sunrise at Sarangkot the day followed was first class. The second stop was at Bindabasini Temple, the first temple ever to have been built in Pokhara! The third stop was Devi falls, named after a foreign couple who got killed in the waters. At the Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave, we observed the underground Shiva temple and the rocks which formed  a spacious cave. Next we visited the Peace Pagoda in Pokhara followed by a tour in the Mountain Museum. We walked and walked in the endless museum filled with astonishing stories of mountain climbers and the native mountain lives. What a day it was! The 6 iconic destinations which left us super-excited despite aching feet. We came back with a notebook filled with notes for Project Culturact 2.0! Have a look at Rtr. Himatha’s blog article for more elaborate details .

That night we met the members of Rotaract Club of Pokhara, signed the twin certificate and had a joint meeting. We celebrated our twin day over an authentic Nepalese dinner. Later that night the Rotaractors visited us at our hotel and we had long cheeky chats about life and love! Rtr. Prawesh Gautam was hilarious and his talkativeness kept us awake with fun and laughter.

The 5th day was the most dreaded day for me. It was an adventure game time! I am not a very adventurous person, but given that I didn’t want to be left alone, thus decided to join the rest in paragliding in the on spur of the moment. We did paragliding from Sarangkot to the Phewa lake. With protective gear on we took off from the mountain. Did some acrobatics in the air, enjoyed the clouds kissing our faces and bless my instructor! I landed in one piece!

That afternoon Rtr. Nirmala met us again where we set off for a mini hike from the Damside to east along the river Fusre Khola. Waving at farmers harvesting their crops we walked along the village offroads, crossed the longest suspension bridge in Pokhara and arrived at the Mini Grand Canyon as the final landmark. We lost Rtr. PP Himantha several times on our trek since he stopped often to capture the scenic landscapes in his camera eye. Thanks to him we had many photographs but most of them missing the camera man himself.  Hats of Mr. Photographer who missed his chance to be photogenic.That night we once again met Rtr. Prawesh the acting president of Rotaract Club of Pokhara, Rtr. Amrith and some fellow members with whom we exchanged gifts and made our farewell as we were leaving the next day.

With the dawn of the next day, it was time for us to bid adieu to the beautiful country of mountains, since we had an afternoon flight we left early to Kathmandu by road. It was a long and tiring trip, most of us slept along the way. At the airport we were sent off by our Rotaract friends in Kathmandu, we were all heartbroken to leave our new friends whom we felt as if we had known for an eternity. Farewell Friends, we will always keep you in our hearts!

However the trip was not yet over! The flights were delayed and we used that time to pose for photographs with the Dhaka Topi gifted to us by Rtr. Amrith. The Dhaka Topi is Nepal’s traditional hat which was graciously gifted to us by Rtr. Amrith and Rotaract Club of Pokhara. After some extensive shopping at the Delhi duty free we set foot on our motherland Sri Lanka.  The 6 Rotaractors were back in their kingdom!

Thank you Rotaract Clubs of Kathmandu and Pokahara, and thank you the kind and helpful people in Nepal and thank you Nepal for the wonderful memories you gave us. Our hearts are filled with love and respect for your country and culture. “Namaste!!” ( May the god in me greet the god in you)

Rtr. Shenali Welikala

 

BlogInternational Services

Journey to the nation of mountains in quest of making new friends – Part 1

Over the past few blogs our readers might have already got a detailed update about Project Mitratā, Rotaract Alumni Mora’s service Visit to Nepal. Allow me to take you through a different journey featuring the “Behind the scenes” of Project Mitrata.

Let’s start from how it all began,the project was initially planned in the month of March 2019, in the past Rotaract year. However due to the tragic circumstances the country went through we decided to postpone the trip. It was a sad time for all of us and we are ever so grateful for Rotaract Club of Kathmandu and Rotaract Club of Pokhara for their great corporation even when all projects were planned for our visit.

Let bygones be bygones, I would say this tragedy motivated us to achieve this dream once again! Thus started our quest to visit the Land of Mountains back again! First we had to find the partners in action and we made an open invitation for all club members to join the visit. Since I myself wanted so badly to make my first trip abroad I was the first one in, then came Rtr. PP. Himantha Alahakoon who was also a part since the March trip. Next up was our very supportive and enthusiast Mr. President Rtr. Hasitha Wellaboda. How can we forget the future bride of Rtr. PP. Himantha who joined us in the quest. Then Rtr. Dinushani Dinushani Wickramarachchi, one of the experienced active members of the club also came into the team, last but not least his thirst for travel lured Rtr. PP. Chamal Kuruppu in.

With the team ready we started planning our itinerary. Finally, we ended up with a 6-day travel itinerary to the Nepal covering Kathmandu and Pokhara. Our aim was to focus on learning the culture of Nepal,engaging in community service and interacting with locals and our friends in Rotaract. With the plans on paper, tickets in hand, dreams in heart we got into our flight on the 8th of November 2019. We had a layover in Delhi, lets just simply say we ran a marathon at sprinting pace to the departing terminal, if not for Rtr. Chamal and his surprising athleticism we might have missed the flight.

When we arrived in Kathmandu it was pretty late! The first impression I had when I set foot in Nepal was how soothing the environment was and how pure the air felt. Believe me, one draw of breath of the fresh air, I finally felt like living! Rtr. Lok and Rtr. Nisa from Rotaract Club of Kathmandu was there at the airport to greet us. Thank you Rotaractors for your warm welcome and sorry to have kept you all waiting!

Next we went to the Hostel at Thamel, the shopping district of Kathmandu, this was especially for the ladies who were keen on doing (quite) a bit of mandatory shopping. Since it was pretty late we only had time for dinner. We made sure to have an authentic Nepalese dinner and to our surprise we had our tummies full for a very affordable value. This was noticeable all around Nepal where the food was delicious yet inexpensive! Rtr. PP. Chamal would agree to this since he was my partner in eating our way through Nepalese cuisine.

Then on the 2nd day, Rtr. PP. Hiamatha who was always the early bird woke us up to start our travel diaries in Kathmandu. That morning while shivering in the cold we watched the iconic sunrise at the Nagarkot mountain. We climbed the observation podium and watched the rising sun, awestruck! We heard from one of the onlookers that it was his 10th time at Nagarkot and this was the best view he had ever seen. In other words, we were so lucky! After a much needed warm breakfast we headed off to the Durbar Square, which is a world heritage site and a monument zone.

Next up was the Joint Community Service project with Rotaract Club of Kathmandu at the Srijanshil Children’s Welfare in Kageshowari, Kathmandu. We met the members of Rotaract Club of Kathmandu and had a joint meeting together followed by a scrumptious Nepalese lunch kindly offered to us by the club members. We made sure to grasp this chance to bond over food and shared many things including common words in Nepalese and Sinhalease. We were surprised to learn how closely the languages related to each other.

Late that night we paid a visit to Hanuman-dhoka Durbar Square where our guide was a feisty gentleman who knew head to toe about the place! Among the many places we went, I was amazed by the “Temple of the Living Goddess” and was equally amazed to see the living goddess with my own eyes. Next up was everyone’s favourite. Which happened to be the Erotic Temple! Yes, you heard it right! The Erotic Temple it was! I will stop the description right here for decency sake, however do have a read about this expedition in Rtr. Pabodha’s article.

Our next stop was the Boudhanath Temple, Rtr. Chamal, Rtr. Pabodha and Rtr. Dinushani tried their luck in turning the money wheels at the temple but alas to the disappointment of our crew we found out later that they were not money wheels but resonating buddhist chants. Sadly, they lost the chance to get rich! Few of our  friends in Rotaract clubs of Sukedhara and Kathmandu North contacted us and met us at the temple, with whom we bonded over a delicious cup of tea. Thank you Rotaractors for your awesome travel advice and kindness. After we said goodbye to them, the shopaholics in us were in full action that night, we shopped away until the shops of Themel Square closed for the day. Rtr. Dinushani was our bargaining queen and we were her fellow disciples.

That marks the end of the behind the scenes of our Kathmandu adventures, tune in with the blog article here to read what happened to the 6 of us in Pokahara. (continued…)

 Rtr. Shenali Welikala

BlogInternational Services

United We Stand 19.2

The project Mitratā was initiated with the intention of expanding Rotaract friendship beyond the borders and this time: getting to know Rotaractors in Nepal. This project was done in collaboration with some Rotaract Clubs in Rotaract International District 3292 – Nepal and Bhutan. The second phase of the project United We Stand was successfully completed during the service visit to Nepal.

On the 9th of November after visiting Nagarkot, being mesmerized by the amazing view of first sun rays touching the snowy mountains and exploring the Durbar square areas in Bhaktapur, we gathered to Srijanshil Children’s Welfare in Kageshowari for a joint community service project. After that we gathered in a small restaurant for special joint general meeting with Rotaract Club of Kathmandu. The meeting was completed with the presence of enthusiastic Rotaractors from both clubs.

Rtr. Lokesh, president of the Rotaract club of Kathmandu called the meeting to order and the proceedings followed by the Rotaract formalities and the national anthems of both countries. Then we had wonderful time by sharing the Rotaract moments of the both clubs. The meeting was followed by a letterhead exchange between the two clubs and we shared some gifts among us. The meeting ended with a fellowship lunch where we were able to taste some scrumptious authentic Nepalese food. It was a really good experience for all the Rotaractors from Sri Lanka to engage with these Nepalese Rotaractors and have a memorable time with them.

Nepalese Rotaractors were enthusiastic to welcome us to Nepal and in the evening, we were able to have a cup of tea with some Rotaractors from two other clubs in Kathmandu. Rtr Samprash Dotel and Rtr. Rishi Raj Adhikari from Rotaract Club of Kathmandu North and Rtr. Resh Raj Pokharel from Rotaract Club of Sukedhara was eagerly waited to meet us. Hence, we met at the Boudhanath temple and went to have a cup of tea with them in the evening. They gave us some valuable travel advices for the upcoming days in Kathmandu and Pokhara as well. We shared some gifts with them and had our second letterhead exchanges with Rotaract Club of Kathmandu and Rotaract Club of Sukedhara. Their hospitality was amazing, and they sure made our stay in Nepal easier.

We were able to expand our friendship with few Rotaract clubs in Kathmandu during our short stay in Kathmandu and they did not forget to accompany us back to the Tribhuvan International Airport on the 13th as well. I strongly believe that our effort to accomplish the Rotary’s theme for this year “Rotary Connects the World” was success through the project “Mitratā”.

Rtr. Hasitha Prashan

BlogInternational Services

Mitratā – Culturact 2.0 – Around Pokhara with Rtr. Nirmala

It was the 4th day in our Mitratā visit to Nepal. After a hectic 7-hour drive from Kathamandu to Pokhara, our crew had a sound sleep at the accommodation.  But alas! The sleep was disturbed by the alarm which rang at 3.45 am. On a regular day, we would have just snoozed the alarm and waited another half an hour on bed. But this day was different; it was the day that we had planned to visit the iconic locations in Pokhara, and the famous Sarangkot sunrise was the first in our list.

After a quick refresh, we packed ourselves and got ready by 4.45 am. We left Hotel Boma, Pokhara by 5.00 am in the morning and Rtr. Nirmala Subedi joined us on the way. Nirmala is a guide by profession, who has conquered the peaks around Pokhara valley several times. She was the best person we could have asked for the Pokhara city tour. By 5.45 am, we managed to reach the viewpoint at Sarangkot.

Sarangkot is one of the best viewpoints to witness the sunrise in Pokhara. On a clear day, a panoramic sweep of Himalayan peaks including Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhare, Annapurna II and Lamjung can be seen with the rising sun. Sarangkot is just a half an hour drive away from Pokhara and a must visit place to witness the snowy white peaks transforming into a celestial gold with the sunrise.

To our dismay, it was a misty morning in Sarangkot, where the panoramic view of mountain peaks was covered with clouds. The sun played hide and seek through the clouds, but we soon realized that the chance of viewing a perfect Sarangkot sunrise is remote. Hence, we left Sarangkot by 6.15 am for our next destination, Bindabasini Temple.

Bindabasini Temple, one of the many fascinating attractions in Pokhara, stands atop a hill near Bagar. The temple premise offers a spectacular view of the famous Machhapuchhare mountain as well as part of the magnificent Annapurna range. The white pagoda-style temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga, who is said to be the chosen as a guardian deity of Pokhara. It is believed that this deity was brought to the city of Pokhara by King Siddhi Narayan Shah of Kaski before the unification of Nepal. The pleasant park-like atmosphere surrounding the historic temple provides a great place to relax and enjoy a picnic with the family.

By the time we reached the temple, there were many locals who had turned up to receive blessings early in the morning. Bajans were sung at one part of the temple and the atmosphere was a very pleasant one. Our crew obtained the blessings and decided to leave for next destination. Before reaching Devi’s falls, we made sure to fill our tummies with traditional Nepalese Momos and Aloo Paratha.

According to one of the many local legends, the name is a corruption of Davis Falls. On 31st July, 1969, Mrs. Davis, a Swiss citizen who had been taking a bath with her husband had been swept away to the sinkhole and died. As a memory of them, the waterfall has since been known as Davis falls, which later transformed into Devi’s falls.  Though it was not the peak season, Devi’s falls was gushing down with water that ran into the sink hole below, which created a cloud of tiny droplets in the air. Beside the falls, there is a model of traditional Nepali house and a series of statue of Nepali people wearing traditional costumes, where we went behind and clicked some snaps.

Across the road from Devi’s Falls is the entrance to the famous Gupteshwor Mahadev Cave, where a number of shrines are located. The largest shrine is dedicated to God Shiva. Behind the shrines is the pond, where the gushing waters of Devi’s falls come to a temporary rest, before joining the underground river. The walls around the pond are comprised of limestones, which add vibrance to the cave structure. The stairs down the cave were slippery, hence we made sure to be cautious with our steps. The next destination on our agenda was the World Peace Pagoda in Pokhara.

Built by the Buddhist monks from Japan on the hills above Phewa lake in 1973 to promote world peace, is the World Peace Pagoda of Pokhara. The stupa has two tiers open for the visitors. The upper tier displays four Buddha statues gifted from different countries. One of those statues has been gifted from Sri Lanka. Besides being a temple of tranquility, the site offers a spectacular view of Pokhara City and Phewa Lake with Annapurna range rising from the background. Other side of the stupa offers panoramic views of local villages. Needless to say, that we felt as if we were visiting a local temple in Sri Lanka. On the way downhill, we got the opportunity to taste coffee made out of freshly blended coffee seeds, which had a unique taste. It was a timely boost for our next destination, International Mountain Museum.

International Mountain Museum is another local and foreign tourist hotspot in Pokhara. The museum exhibits mainly three sections: hall of Great Himalayas, hall of world mountains and hall of fame. The museum contains exhibits on famous peaks, mountaineers, different types of communities in Nepal, geology and cultural values of Nepalese people. This visit provided a deep insight into mountaineering and the danger associated with it. The documentary on Everest trek was convincing enough to upgrade one of the items on my wish list, ‘conquering Everest Base Camp’ from a should-do to a must-do.

On the next day evening, we walked along the Phewa lakeside to reach the bus station close to the boat house for the next adventure with Nirmala: a mini-hike from west Damside to east along the river Fusre Khola. After a 15 minute-bus ride, we got down at a junction and walked along Rameshwor Marga towards the Damside power house. At the powerhouse, we turned to a gravel road which runs through the paddy fields that were ready to be harvested.

The Hanging bridge, which is the longest suspension bridge of Pokhara was our next landmark. We were surprised by the depth and the width of river Fusre Khola, where the hanging bridge was built over. Though the length was more, the stability was better than the suspension bridges in Sri Lanka.

On the other side of the river, we experienced typical Nepalese village culture. Farmers who were harvesting and collecting paddy were a common sight during the hike. The experience reminded us nothing less than the rural Sri Lankan villages filled with lush green paddy fields.

Mini Grand Canyon was the final landmark in the mini hike. The landscape was similar to that of Grand Canyon, where river Fusre Khola flows down the deep valley that has walls of inclination of approximately 90. At the viewpoint, we had a good rest and took ample time to click images of the magnificent view. A panoramic view of Machhapuchhare mountain at the sunset added to the glamour, saving the best of Pokhara to the last.

As the evening ambled towards the dusk, we left the Damside to return to the Lakeside. Words were not enough to thank Rtr. Nirmala, who dedicated two days of her busy schedule to show us around the city of Pokhara. With heart-felt gratitude and contentment, project Culturact 2.0 came to a successful conclusion at Pokhara.

 

Rtr. Himantha Alahakoon

BlogInternational Services

Mitrata Culturact 1.0 – Imprints of Kathmandu, the city of temples

Bhaktapur – Nagarkot

On our very first morning in Nepal, we woke up hours before the sun, to witness this mighty star smooching over the Himalayan Snow Mountains from Nagarkot.  Our friendly cab driver drove us safely to Bhaktapur Nagarkot, nearly 35 kilo meters away from Kathmandu city. 

We climbed up to a scaffolding platform which gives the best viewpoint, and celebrated the auspicious sun-show. We were awestruck by its breath-taking panoramic view. We had to shoot out our eagles’ eyes to differentiate mountains from the fluffy white clouds resting on their snowy peaks. 

After few hours of sun-sky-snow-mountain gazing, though longing to enjoy that breathtaking view a little while more would never be satisfied, we enjoyed a typical Nepalese breakfast, and set off to our next location, Durbar Square, Bhaktapur.

Bhaktapur – Durbar Square

Durbar Square(King’s Court) in Bhaktapur, as the name suggests, is the royal palace of the old Bhaktapur Kingdom, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, still preserving the glory of its ancient culture.

We wandered eagerly, admiring many centuries old exquisite stone-art, metal-art, wood carvings, and terracotta-art of each architectural masterpiece. Renovations are ongoing after the damage caused by the earthquake in 2015, nonetheless, its majestic heritage shines brightly. There are many important monuments to sight-see, other than the main Durbar Square. 55 Windows Palace, Golden Gate, Big Bell, Dattatreya Square, Pottery Square, and five-level Nyatapola Temple are few of them.

We were fascinated by street shops crammed with beautiful souvenirs and artifacts, and did not forget to bring home some Nepalese mementos for our loved ones here in Sri Lanka.

Kathmandu – Durbar Square

On the same day, we took an evening stroll from our boarding place at Thamel to Kathmandu Durbar Square exploring the Nepali life across the streets. 

Being another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kathmandu Durbar square is home to many Buddhist & Hindu temples & shrines with a history dating back to many centuries.  Until early 20th century this was the King’s residence, where their coronations were celebrated festively.  Since whole premises was swarming with both natives & tourists much the same, we were watchful to stick together and not to get lost along the way.

This magnificent complex include Kotilingeshwara Mahadev, Mahendreswara Temple, Taleju Temple, Mahadev Temple, Shiva Parvati Temple, Maru Ganesh, Bhagwati Temple, Saraswati Temple, Krishna Temple, Bhairav and many more. Among these religious monuments, Jagannath Temple stand out because of its erotic carvings of humans & animals on its roof beams. It is treated as a relic & looked upon with respect. So, onlookers could freely avert their eyes or admire this 15th century art!

We also got a glimpse of the ‘Living Goddess’; a young girl regarded & worshiped as the incarnation of Goddess Taleju in the temple called Kumari Bahal.

 We were privileged to witness and to get a brief about ‘Tibetan Mandala art’, which are mesmerizing yet immensely complex symbolic structures, drawn in multiple layers full of deep meaning to decipher. 

As the dusk settled in, we stopped for evening snack & tea at a nearby food hut. By that time, we were already head over heels in love with Nepalese food & beverages. After filling our tummies & hearts, we packed ourselves into cabs from Kathmandu Durbar Square and headed to Boudhanath Temple.

Kathmandu – Boudhanath Temple

Boudhanath Temple is also one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, and it is one of the major pilgrimage sites for Buddhists from all around the world. The 36-meter high stupa is the largest of its kind in Kathmandu. The stupa tower is painted with pairs of eyes on each cardinal direction, representing the all-knowing nature of Gautama Buddha.

We paced devotedly around the stupa like we usually do at Sri Lankan Buddhists temples. Spinning the Prayer wheels with engraved mantras (‘Gathas’) placed in every nick & corner of the stupa became a mind enlightening activity. There were small palm-size wheels to a humongous room-size prayer wheel. According to Tibetan Buddhist beliefs, spinning such a wheel resonates those inscribed prayers, and has the same meritorious purifying effect as reciting.

The colourful rectangular Tibetan prayer flags, hanging high from stupa to outwards, were fluttering in the temple sky. Blue, green, red, white, & yellow symbolic colours of the flags represent the five elements sky, water, fire, air, and earth respectively, while the prayers written in these flags favour compassion, peace, strength, and wisdom. It is believed that the wind carries blessings & good fortune from these Buddhists prayers to all sentient beings. 

Living in the moment, engulfed in the vivid atmosphere of Boudhanath Temple & worshiping to our hearts’ content, it felt as if our Sri Lankan Buddhists heartstrings stretching and amalgamating into Nepalese Buddhist culture.

Mitrata Culturact

Culture is people, architecture, food & traditions. Simply, it is everything man-made in the surrounding & its way of life. Nepalese culture felt very home-like to the islanders from Sri Lanka, and yet so unique in its own way.

Nepal, owning eight of the world’s ten tallest mountains, including Mount Everest the highest point on earth, & the birthplace of the world’s greatest philosopher Gautama Buddha, has a humble & a rich culture. Its diverse and peaceful culture itself is the proof of a strong religious & ethnic harmony shared among the citizens of Nepal. 

Words fail to express the gratitude we want to gift for this beautiful country & for its beautiful people for their sincere generosity & hospitality. 

Mitratā kō lāgī dhan’yavāda! (‘Thank you for the Friendship!)

 

Rtr. Prabodha Chamarie