AIA Insurance recently conducted the Poson Safety Programme for the 25th consecutive year, making it one of the longest standing CSR initiatives in the country. Held across three days during Poson, in Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Dambulla and Mihintale, the programme facilitates 600 lifeguards across 28 reservoirs and lakes to ensure that pilgrims are safe when they bathe in the reservoirs.
Sri Lanka is a country in abundance of lakes and reservoirs out of which many are found in the North Central Province. During the Poson season, these reservoirs overflow with not just water but with religious devotees from all over the country. Millions of devotees throng to the sacred area in a religious pilgrimage, where they bathe in these reservoirs to beat the heat and to cleanse themselves before making the pilgrimage to the “Udamaluwa”.
Since many of these devotees are from other parts of the country, they are not aware of the areas that are safe for bathing and as a result are vulnerable to drowning. Following an unfortunate death in 1992, and being concerned about the safety of pilgrims, the company pursued a solution to prevent the loss of lives due to drowning during Poson. So, in 1993, the insurer together with the Life Savers Association of Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka Navy and the Sri Lanka Police launched the Poson Safety Programme with the intention of putting a stop to the senseless loss of lives by drowning.
In addition to the facilitating of lifeguards, efforts include educating the public through on-ground activations and media campaigns, as well as the placement of warning signs in all locations deemed dangerous for bathing.
AIA Chief Marketing Officer Nikhil Advani noted, “This year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of this very special initiative, I am proud to say that we have saved over 200 lives over the years. We at AIA feel a sense of pride when we look back at this social responsibility effort of educating the public and saving lives over the years. As an insurer, AIA understands the value of human lives and know the importance of preserving lives of loved ones.”
CEO Pankaj Banerjee added, “the project is not only about saving lives but also facilitating a mindset shift which prioritises safety and awareness. As a life insurer, we want to ensure that people are empowered to make informed and responsible decisions in life because there are so many people who love you and depend on you and need to take good care of yourself.”