Sri Lankan PI event
At the AOSM the Sri Lankan delegate, Jeremy D., told the Australian delegates about a big public information opportunity that was coming up in Sri Lanka. The Festival of St Anne was being held in the town of Thalawila on August 5-7. This was the 249th anniversary of the event which now attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and other visitors.
Jeremy said the local members were keen to use the event to inform visitors about AA but lacked the money to maximize success. They needed $850 to hire a stall and print banners, posters, stickers and pamphlets. There were only two weeks before the festival started and they urgently needed an assurance that funds would be provided so that they could start on the preparations.
Valerie M., the National Office Manager was at the AOSM and, together with the two Australian world service delegates, constituted a full management board of the Australian International Sponsorship Fund. The three directors of the Fund were able to tell Jeremy to go ahead with the preparations and the money would be sent.
With that assurance, the Sri Lankans went ahead with ordering printing of the banners, posters and stickers as well as booking the tent and stall. On Thursday August 4 a team of five members left Colombo to travel to Thalawila to set up the stall in order to get maximum advantage and attract as many people as possible.
Large 10-foot banners were placed at almost all main junctions and the posters were pasted up to attract the attention of all and sundry. Stickers were pasted inside the busses, on lorries, vans and three wheelers which are one of the main modes of transport in Sri Lanka.
On the Friday night 20 more members left for Thalawila from Colombo and Negombo in five vehicles. They pasted up posters along the final 40-mile stretch to Thalawila. They found it an exciting experience as many people were curious and many required active 12th Stepping and were directed to meeting places for further help. Finally the team reached Thalawila at dawn and re-grouped with those who had initially set up the stall in Thalawila.
After an early bird meeting and a discussion four groups were set up and allotted different areas to distribute leaflets and meeting schedules. Stickers were also pasted on vehicles just entering with their permission.
In the stall itself a team was busy, answering questions, directing people To meetings in various parts of the country and sharing with them their experiences. Some of them were even 12th stepped on the spot and were directed to the hospitals for de-tox on their return from Thalawila.
The normal AA meetings in the late evenings gave members a chance to share with each other what was happening in various areas of the campaign. With each meeting more and more newcomers turned up.
On the last evening they had a meeting to assess the work done and also to initiate a plan of action in order to follow up the awareness campaign. It was not only a success but was also a stepping stone to carry out future campaigns which would be less costly as most of the necessary materials are now available.