A small town in Chitradurga district of Karnataka has turned into a hub for Rotary activities and DG V Thirupathi Naidu, RID 3160, is all praise for RC Hiriyur for helping its people, mostly farmers, small traders and merchants, with a host of service projects including setting up a park, theatre and community hall.
To mark its golden jubilee year, “for the first time, we hosted a two-day district seminar, Sambhrama, attended by 400 Rotarians. We had sessions on membership growth, literacy and public image building in which PDGs Ravi Dhotre, Rajendra Rai, Deepak Shikarpur, Muni Girish, Sreerama Murthy, and Chinnapa Reddy spoke on key issues of Rotary,” says club president H Kiran Kumar. In the last 50 years, over 600 eye and 300 health check-up camps were held at villages around Hiriyur taluk reaching out to 45,000 beneficiaries who don’t have access to hospitals or medical care, he says. “We have done 10,000 cataract surgeries and our health camps conduct tests for BP, sugar, cancer and heart and kidney ailments.”
Merit awards consisting of a memento and cash prize (₹1,000-2,000) are being given to 20–30 school and college students each year. The annual youth seminars for PUC (pre-university course) and college students are quite popular as “we provide interesting sessions on nationality, good citizenry, career-building and leadership skills. So far we have conducted 30 such programmes for the youth in Hiriyur.” At present, five Happy Schools are being done with club funding; and “we have conducted 6–7 teacher training
programmes benefitting at least 240 tutors,” says Kumar.
A grandiose two-storey building with a built-up area of 10,000 sq ft has two meeting halls on the ground floor and a mega event hall on its second floor where social events and community gatherings are held regularly. “The primary building (₹30 lakh) was inaugurated in 1997 during the tenure of H S Sundarraj with generous funding by Rotarians, donors and well-wishers. Later on, we added the first floor (₹20 lakh) in 2018–19 with Hiriyur legislator Poornima Srinivas donating a big sum during the leadership of M S Raghavendra,” he explains.
For large congregations and community festivals, an open air theatre (₹13 lakh) was built in 1993 with major donor Sethuram contributing big in memory of his late parents. “The seating arrangement at one end faces an open field and from there, one can see over 2,000 people gathering at this place for religious festivals or social gatherings.” At the city centre, the theatre is a boon to Hiriyur people as it offers a convenient place to gather and perform on special occasions, he says.
Venkatarathnam sponsored a Rotary park near the Bhavana; while H V Srinivasan, both Rotarians, donated for a children’s library which was later converted into a meeting hall. “If there is a let up in Covid infection, we will hold our district RYLA in February in which we will provide career counselling and leadership training to PUC students. We expect at least 50 youth to participate in it.”
First GG project
For the first time, the club is applying for a global grant project of installing solar streetlights and lamps at houses (₹30–40 lakh) in the next few months. “If the grant materialises, it will benefit over 2,000 houses and 20 villages in Hiriyur taluk. We are guided by DRFC and PDG K Madhuprasad for getting it sanctioned.”
As part of its 50th year celebrations, the club is distributing 300 freshly-prepared meals to patients and their attendants at the GH, Hiriyur, for two days a week through the year. The project costing ₹7 lakh is sponsored by G Premkumar, an ex-ward councillor. With 40 members, 35 of them Paul Harris Fellows, Kiran Kumar is keen to induct at least eight new Rotarians by June 30. “Hiriyur is a very small town and the challenge is enormous. During peak Covid times, two Rotarians fell victims, and some have quit our club which had 65 members earlier,” he says. Expressing his gratitude to DG Naidu, he says, “we are following the suggestions given by him to increase our membership. His mentorship helps us to take up grand projects.”