Posted by Neville JOHN
ROTARY CENTRAL MELBOURNE – MEETING REPORT 15 October 2019
Posted by Neville John
Chair Start Ellis AM opened the meeting with a toast to Rotary International.
 
President Warwick Cavell welcomed guests, Shanaka Fernando (Guest Speaker), Charith Senanayke and Francesco Fedele. Warwick encouraged members to purchase tickets in the Social Enterprise draw and be a lucky winner.
 
Announcements
  • Gerard Hogan advised that there is a social gathering at Campari’s in Hardware lane at 6 pm on Friday 25 October.
 
  • Peter Duras advised that Caprice had made another very generous donation of children’s footwear. As there will be more than sufficient to provide our usual recipients, Peter invited members to let him know if there are other organisations that they know working with children who they believe might benefit from receiving some items.
 
  • Kevin Love reminded members of the opportunity to donate items for sale at the Camberwell Market.
 
  • Alan Seale advised that Hat Day will be deferred from next Tuesday until a date to be advised in November. Alan also advised that D9800 Vocational Chair, Mary Barry has approached State Emergency Services with an offer to manage a mentoring program similar to Victoria Police and Ambulance Victoria.
 
  • Alison Chan reminded members that next Tuesday is the ‘Paint Your Pinkie Purple’ morning where purple nail polish (removable) will be painted on the little finger to promote the Rotary End Polio campaign. This act9vity replicates how polio volunteers in the field recognise whether children have been immunised – they apply nail polish to their little finger.
 
  • Roy Garrett confirmed that there are 13 people travelling to Sri Lanka next April and there is room for another couple. If interested please let Roy know as soon as possible.
 
President Warwick’s Announcements – included:
  • Marjorie and Bernie Gerlinger’s birthdays and wedding anniversary.
 
 
 
Guest Speaker:
Shanaka Fernando  – Founder of Lentil As Anything; Pay What You Can (Restaurant chain) and a social challenger.
 
Shanaka was born in Sri Lanka to an Irish mother and Sri Lankan father during the time of civil war. He witnessed human inequality and trauma where he was taught to believe that people were equal, but from what he could see, there were not treated that way. He gave examples of how the trauma of war can become desensitising and he wanted to do something about that and social injustice.
 
In 1968, at age 31 Shanaka migrated to Australia, a place where he found the people welcoming, friendly and humble. He began his search for ways in which we could teach and learn together, which started a very interesting period of his life. He studied Law and Melbourne University and did not complete it as he felt it was not what he was looking for. He became a Buddhist monk in Western Australia and that also was not a long-term proposition. He travelled the world living in indigenous communities, where he discovered a deep sense of civility in what could be described as an uncivilised environment. He saw that food was a large part of social connection where the tribes would come together to eat and communicate.
 
Returning to Australia, Shanaka established the Lentil As Anything restaurant chain, and introduced the concept of ‘pay what you can’. Lentil As Anything restaurants and grocery store have no set prices. Everyone is welcome to come for a meal and contribute in any way they can. Some people volunteer their time in the kitchen or on the floor, others leave a financial donation in one of the contribution boxes. All leave with the feeling that they are part of an inclusive community. Shanaka sees LAA as a proposition to society to think more deeply about what is important.
 
He believes that money cannot replace social connection and that life is about effort, not convenience, so he started up an ‘Inconvenience Store’. In closing Shanaka left us with the challenge of practising the values of kindness and connection and to dig deep, be ourselves, be vital and make the most of our lives.
 
President Warwick closed the meeting wishing everyone a good week and reminding us to take whatever opportunity we can to embrace this year’s theme - ‘Rotary Connects The World’.