21.10.2013 in CSR, Latest by admin 0

Expolanka commemorates World Elders Day

“Goodness is the only investment that never fails” – Henry David Thoreau

The 19th century signaled the birth of the modern corporate. The industrial revolution spawned a variety of companies. Most of these companies took every opportunity to make a profit regardless of the impacts on society, benefiting from the slave trade, colonialism and war. Nevertheless, a small minority took a more philanthropic approach by considering the needs of employees and assisting the poor. A notable example is the Cadbury chocolate makers in the UK which opened a green factory called ‘factory in the garden’ and heralded a new era in industrial relations and employee welfare with joint consultation being one of the many initiatives launched. However, CSR languished at a sedate pace and it was not until a century later that companies began to grasp the importance of corporate social responsibility. The rise in anti-corporate activism over environmental and human rights issues made a shift in corporate attitudes towards social and environmental issues essential. The 1970s and 80s saw major international boycotts of companies investing in South Africa, notably Barclays Bank, and the Nestlé boycott over the company’s aggressive milk formula marketing strategies in the global South. These events were a sign of things to come and woke up many in the business world to the importance of their public reputations.  Capitalism had to be given a human face and the modern CSR movement was birthed.

At a time when many global corporate giants were taking fledgling steps in CSR, Expolanka Holdings was already setting the benchmark in the Sri Lankan corporate sector. Expolanka is built on relationships:  relationships with our customers, partners, investors, employees and the communities in which we live and work. Since 1978, the company has taken CSR to a new dimension with the diversity of its initiatives. Our CSR projects are focused on five areas: health, education, disaster relief, community development and the environment.  We have provided scholarships, conducted free health camps, engaged in flood relief programmes, sponsored young entrepreneurs and taken the lead in observing Earth Hour and Water Day. Recently, on the International Youth Day, the CSR arm of Expolanka Holdings together with the United Nations Volunteers hosted a volunteer appreciation fête to celebrate and recognize the actions of Sri Lankan youth volunteers.

After felicitating the youth, the Expolanka management thought it opportune as our next CSR event to pay homage to our elders. On the 1st of October, The World Elders Day, Expolanka Holdings together with HelpAge organized a series of Health Camps in Aranayaka, Dematagoda, Pandura and Slave Island for over 600 elderly patients. The health camps offered patients with total health services that included body mass index (BMI) calculation, vision care and dietary advice. Moreover, elderly patients were offered free eye care and those with severe eye damage were presented with spectacles and medication. The Executive Director of HelpAge, Samantha Liyanawaduge, was overjoyed at the success of the health camps.

“This year’s health camps were a resounding success and it was heartening that we were able to conduct health camps around the country. We managed to touch the lives of more than 600 people and some of them will undergo cataract surgery at the HelpAge Eye Care center in Wellawatte. Expolanka Holdings did an admirable job in helping us to make these camps successful and other corporates should follow their example”, Mr. Liyanawaduge said.

The theme of this year’s Elders Day was “Preparing for old age throughout your life”. The Health Ministry of Sri Lanka predicts that that the population of elders in the country is likely to double by 2030. As of now, elders account for 10% of the population. Elders have much to give to society; our lives are nourished by their experiences, stories and wisdom. Recently, Pope Francis addressing a gathering in Turin, Italy said, “A population that does not take care of the elderly and of children has no future, because it abuses both its memory and its promise”. We at Expolanka agree with his Excellency and we consider it a privilege that we could better the lives of at least a few elders on the World’s Elders Day. Expolanka’s Head of Marketing, Corporate Communications and CSR Paddy Weerasekera, encapsulated this viewpoint into words,

“We are happy to do our part in taking care of our elders. Sri Lanka has an aging population and we believe that a lot can be done to make their lives happier. The world has designated a day for the caring of elders but we should care for them not only on this day but throughout the year”.


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