From starting a canteen to dedicating after-school hours to tutoring elderly people on online shopping, to selling bhel puri and pani puri, three Interact clubs sponsored by RC Ahmedabad Greater, RID 3054, have been working hard to raise funds for children in war-hit Ukraine and flood-affected Pakistan.
Interactors of the Vishwabharati Girls’ High School, Thaltej, Ahmedabad, raised €51 (about ₹5,000) for Ukraine by teaching elderly people to use their smartphones, filling up banking forms, giving information, and helping them pay property and water taxes, electricity and cooking gas bills online, all for a minimum fee. “These students belong to lower middle-income families and already have a lot of responsibility given by their parents and yet decided to think beyond themselves. Even though it’s not a lot, they wanted to do their bit,” says Arup Sinha, Interact chair of RC Ahmedabad Greater.
Talking about the plight of the children in Ukraine, Priyanka Prajapathi, president of the Interact Club of the Vishwabharati school, says, “Many children are hiding in basements to escape bomb attacks, some have had to witness the death of their loved ones, and some had to flee their homes. Our problems don’t even come close to what they are facing.”
It all began when Rathod Khushi Haresh, a member of the Interact club, was asked at a club meeting why she wasn’t wearing the school uniform. “I had to choose between my uniform and books because my parents couldn’t afford both,” says Khushi. When the club learn about her situation, the Interactors came up with Project Khushi, and raised ₹2,000. Khushi got a new set of uniform for ₹1,000, while the other ₹1,000 was used as a seed fund for the children of Ukraine.
“On the last day of fundraising, all the Interact club members were out the entire day, sensitising the community about the situation of the Ukrainian children and we appealed to everyone to think of their suffering and donate from their heart and not just their pockets,” says Priyanka.
The Interactors of Abhijat Vidya Vihar School started a cafeteria in the campus and placed a donation box near the payment counter and urged visitors to donate generously. “Being children and trying to raise money to help Ukrainian kids had an emotional effect on people. Teachers and students who visited our cafeteria were always ready to donate extra for the cause,” says Jay Patel, club president. This initiative generated ₹2,500 (€31). “This gave us the confidence to do more,” he adds. Next, the club sold snacks like vada pav, bhel puri and pani puri, handmade paper bags, etc to local sweet shops. “This helped us raise another €80. This was a learning experience for us. We learnt marketing skills and understood that selling takes planning,” he says.
The money raised was sent to RC Tarragona Tarraco August, RID 2202, Spain, to partially fund a trip to Spain for 20 war-traumatised children from Ukraine. Acknowledging the donation, club member Salvador Olive said, “It is a pleasure to see how these Interactors have gone all out to raise funds to help children in a country so far away from them, and all this under the supervision of Rotarians from clubs in different countries. This is the magic of Rotary!” The Ukrainian children would enjoy a month of physical and psychological support and pampering in Spain as an antidote to the trauma they experienced.
While these two clubs raised €162 for Ukrainian children, the Interact club of Vishwabharati English Medium School hosted a Canteen Day and sold sandwiches and poha to raise ₹3,700 for Pakistani children affected by floods. “It is not a very big amount but we hope it would help few children access food and water, or a toy or a book,” says club member Kavya Dave. Unfortunately, the funds could not be sent to Pakistan due to international payment restrictions. “We are working on alternative options,” says Sinha.
The Interact clubs organise at least two projects every year — one that helps their school or community, and another that promotes international understanding. “We Rotarians guide them through the projects. But with the way they had raised these amounts, you can tell that they do not need much handholding,” he adds.
A solution to stop spitting in public
Prayagraj Mehta, president of the Interact Club of Vishwa Bharati English Medium School, was tired and upset “to see a family member spit outside the car when we went on drives. So, I decided to do something about it.” He began working on a solution to discourage spitting in public places and designed a ‘biodegradable spittoon’ which can be easily fitted inside a car or bike. He was recently felicitated with the Youth Innovator Award for his innovation by Gujarat CM Bhupendra Patel.