With a smile on her lips and tears of joy, Faustina D Mello (77), an inmate of the St John Old Age Home, Goa, thanks the Rotarians of RC Panaji Riviera, RID 3170, for restoring her eyesight following a cataract surgery. “When I opened my eyes after the surgery,
I felt I was seeing angels,” she says. The club has been organising cataract surgery camps for the last seven years and has completed close to 900 surgeries so far at a cost of ₹1.3 crore.
Last year, about 1,000 elderly people were screened through eye camps conducted at eight villages near Goa at a cost of ₹24.45 lakh. While spectacles and medicines were given for 450 patients, another 200 were referred for cataract surgeries. “Due to the lockdown, we were able to do only 163 surgeries,” says Club President Yogish Kulkarni.
The scenic village of Pilerne, 12km from Goa, is a famous birding destination. “But unfortunately, the ponds are covered under a blanket of weeds and plastics,” says Kulkarni. On World Environment Day, the club carried out a massive cleaning and desilting project in one of the ponds, a source of irrigation to many paddy fields. The accumulated sludge, silt and sediments were removed from the waterbody, thus increasing its storage capacity. Three wells close to the pond were also revived, thus solving the drinking water problem of the villagers. The project cost ₹80,000.
When I opened my eyes after the surgery, I felt I was seeing angels.
The club is supporting the Keshav Seva Sadhana School for special children, located 30km from Goa in Bicholim village. “We first gave the school a physiotherapy equipment to aid the treatment of students and later started vocational training for them,” says Kulkarni. The children learn to make candles and incense sticks, and to sew. With the help of a global grant and partners from Rotary clubs in the UK and US, a vocational centre has been established at this school. Apart from this, the club has transformed the Pragati High School, Nerul, into a Happy School and runs MHM awareness programmes in the village schools around Goa.
In March 2020, the club installed a mammogram at Rugnashray, a charitable organisation through a GG of $40,096, and provided Covid relief for the needy through a GG worth $99,565. The United Nations and UNAIDS appreciated the club’s efforts in supporting an NGO that cares for HIV-positive children during the lockdown.