As colleges in Mumbai are sizzling with energy and enthusiasm after a nearly two-year Covid lockdown, RC Bombay Bandra, RID 3141, is making the best use of new opportunities to expand its Rotaract power. Following an event on drug abuse hosted by the club at the RD National College, Bandra West, its principal Dr Neha Jagtiani and staff wanted to revive their Rotaract club which wound up in 2010 as “they could not carry it further at that time due to some reasons,” said Ramu S Vedaraman, club president. “After seeing our presentation, the college wanted to resume Rotaract activities and during the visit of DG Dr Rajendra Agarwal, a thalassaemia awareness event was conducted at the college. We selected a president and a Rotaract board then, following which we reactivated
RAC RD National College in June.”
Getting a new lease of life with 40 charter members, “this Rotaract club has drawn up an ambitious plan to induct 600 new Rotaractors in the next few years which is quite possible as the college offers diverse courses across the arts, science and engineering streams to over 6,000 students,” said Vedaraman. During the one-day thalassaemia camp, around 100 students were screened and reports given.
Another club, RAC Father Agnel Engineering College, used to conduct a 22km-marathon called Heart & Sole Run for all age groups to sensitise the public on cardiac fitness and healthy lifestyle. “This is an eight-year-old club sponsored by us which hosts this annual marathon with support from other NGOs at the Bandstand area of Bandra. Last year (March 2021), they got 600 online registrations for the marathon held through a hybrid process,” said Abbas Shahiwala, club secretary and youth services director.
The participants uploaded their screenshots and video clips on Strava, Nike apps and other social media platforms to register their presence. “Preparations are on to conduct a physical marathon, the fifth edition, this time around as colleges have opened and normal life has resumed,” said Rohit Nair, vice-president, RAC Father Agnel Engineering College.
A couple of field events, Trek-Footslog and a beach clean-up programme, have infused a new wave of interest among Rotaractors at this engineering college. “We took 200 school students accompanied by teachers to the Kothaligad Fort as a one-day excursion which was a great experience for us too. Secondly, with the help of 170 volunteers, including Rotaractors, we removed litter and garbage weighing around 350kg from the Girgaon Chowpatty beach by tying up with Change is Us, an NGO, that gave immense satisfaction to our colleagues,” said Nair.
In an offbeat event, they hosted a stand-up comedy, Mic drop Alfresco, with Raunaq Rajani, a standup comedian, which attracted 200 attendees. “A flea market was held on the sidelines. Artistes from different genres such as rap and poetry recital also performed in an open-air theatre at our college quadrangle which saw around 180 registrations,” he said. Most of the funding for Rotaract projects and events are done through a mix of private sponsors, in-kind donations from companies and mentoring from their parent, RC Bombay Bandra.
On its part, the parent Rotary club will facilitate the induction of more Rotaractors and expand their activities on college campuses, “where there is a huge potential for growth,” said Vedaraman. Chartered in 1990, the club has 36 members and is known for donating prosthetic limbs to about 15 cancer survivors at the Ernest Borges Memorial Home every year. Here patients from the Tata Memorial Hospital are accommodated for palliative care, he said.
A technical team at the special home designs the artificial limbs that are custom-made to suit the specific needs of each patient after consultations with the doctors. “We have gifted the machines worth ₹5 lakh to the Borges Home long time back and now we sponsor the making of prosthetic limbs each year,” said Shahiwala. The club has an annual budget of ₹1.2 lakh for making such limbs.
Over the years, the club has availed five district grants for service projects, and “we have applied for a maiden global grant worth $40,000 for installing water filtration units to meet the drinking water needs of 30 government schools in Palghar district. This project will benefit 2,500 students once it is done,” added Vedaraman.