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

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