This month I had the privilege of meeting an inspirational person who has done amazing things with her life. She started the Lanka Alzheimer’s Foundation in 1999 with the support of her husband and has been singlehandedly making a difference in the lives of elders, a segment of society that we often forget, ever since.
I turned up at Aunty Lorraine’s house an early Saturday morning, in the pouring rain, volunteering to help her raise funds for the Lanka Alzheimer’s Foundation. The Foundation does wonderful work building awareness, providing free health care and day care services, undertaking research into causes and cures as well as supporting families that have elder people that suffer from all forms of dementia.
I spent the whole day, starting with helping her to load all the brochures, raffle tickets and other items on sale and we drove to Crescat, just one of the many locations she has her little booth, helping her to raise funds. It was an eye-opening day to say the least, as we asked people to help support the foundation. The one thing that I did learn that people were either extremely generous or found it very easy to ignore and walk away. In the end though, we raised almost Rs 60,000.
I couldn’t help thinking to myself how people did not view selfishness as a sin. How easy it is for people to not care, immersed in their own world because they were too busy to give us five minutes of their time. I guess everyone has a different perspective on these things. Personally, I believe in doing what we can, that being kind is something that must come naturally to us. Anne Frank once said: “how wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
I was also a part of a Health Care Project organized by the Training for Trusteeship program, the Colombo North Rotaract Club and partnered by IYV+ 10 Sri Lanka at Negombo. We had people from all walks of life using our free health care services – with doctors, a diabetes clinic, an eye clinic, to even makeshift pharmacy operating inside a class room. This happened because a group of young people, regardless of race or religion, came together passionate about making a difference. We volunteer our time freely, despite having to juggle careers and studies and we do it because we care.
We may think that the little we do does not amount to much, but it does. Volunteering helps us to transform a cause that we care about, the people we help along the way, and more importantly, we bring collective goodness into this world. It might sound very idealistic but it is always the smallest act of kindness that goes a long way. Remember the next time you see volunteers who have willingly dedicated their free time and service, without expecting a single reward in return, asking you for five minutes of your time, don’t walk the other way. That five minutes of your time could potentially change a life, and that life could be yours.
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