Early in the morning Chameera makes his way to the Colombo Branch of the Sri Lanka Red Cross Society (SLRCS) in order to be part of the briefings for the operations team that will engage in well cleaning activities within the district. The branch has been cleaning wells, since floods in the Colombo district, two months back contaminated almost 80% of this clean water resource.
Chameera’s duty today is to go with his ops team door to door and to help clean wells that would ensure people having a clean source of water for daily consumption.
“In the area that we are working most of the people are in a vulnerable state” says Chameera. “If the Red Cross does not help them, then they don’t have anyone else to do it for them”
This emergency operation for Chameera is not his first. He joined the Red Cross back in 2005 when he was a student at the Moratuwa Maha Vidyalaya in suburban Colombo. He first heard about the Red Cross in grade 9, when two volunteers came to his school seeking for assistance to manage a tsunami camp in a nearby temple.
Chameera was first in line to help.
“I didn’t understand about the Red Cross being a global humanitarian organization or how big it was. The first time I visited the temple and saw the people who were displaced and was in a very demoralizing condition because of the tsunami, and what volunteers were doing to help, it just captivated my heart and soul. Despite no knowledge of this organization the Red Cross, I understood the essence of it all by the action of volunteers, determine to help”
Since then Chameera became a volunteer of the SLRCS Colombo branch. He has engaged in aiding communities within the Colombo district in various disasters since 2005. Floods are one of the key areas of focus of the branch and Chameera has been involved in ensuring that people across the district receive quality humanitarian care by the Red Cross.
Since the recent floods Chameera has also been involved in providing relief items during the height of the disaster, engaged in rescue services, provided first aid to many individuals stranded in camps and now the well cleaning activities.
SLRCS branches in two worst affected districts (Colombo & Gampaha) has been focusing on cleaning wells within these two districts that have been contaminated by flood waters. As of now over 2500 wells have been cleaned by volunteers such as Chameera. This activity continues in both district with partnership and support from various other commercial organizations.
“For me volunteering has become an addiction” says Chameera. “Every single time when I am in some part of the country helping someone and when I speak to them, I understand the importance of volunteering. It’s not about providing just a service, it’s about ensuring that people who are in a most vulnerable state, who absolutely has no one to help, getting a quality care that would elevate them back to a dignified life”
Chameera continues to be part of the SLRCS volunteering family. He has completed first aid course and is now volunteering as a first aid instructor at SLRCS, when he’s not engaging in emergency operations.
Sri Lanka Red Cross is the island’s largest volunteer based network with over 100,000 volunteers working for a better community across Sri Lanka. If you are interested to volunteer with us, please register at www.redcross.lk/volunteers