Wow!” exclaimed RI President Jennifer Jones, walking up to the sprawling Operation Imagine venue of the RI zone institute that was overflowing with thousands of bicycles, sewing machines and wheelchairs. Jones inaugurated the mega service projects where bicycles were distributed to 1,000 girl students, sewing machines to 1,000 underprivileged women and 1,000 wheelchairs to the disabled in Visakhapatnam.
“An educated girl is an empowered girl. These new bicycles will take you to school where you can focus on your future,” she said, waving to a group of young girls in school uniforms. To the women, she said, “You all can be economically independent with the income you will now earn from tailoring. It is wonderful to see that Rotary has made all this possible.”
You all can be economically independent with the income you will now earn from tailoring. It is wonderful to see that Rotary has made all this possible.
– Jennifer Jones, President, Rotary International
RIPN Stephanie Urchick, RI directors Mahesh Kotbagi, Drew Kessler and Vicki Puliz, TRF trustee Jorge Aufranc, PRIP Shekhar Mehta, PRID Kamal Sanghvi, RIDE Anirudha Roychowdhury and institute chair Kishore Kumar were present at the event.
The total value of the projects is ₹2.5 crore, said PDG Lakkaraju Satyanarain, chair, Operation Imagine. PDG Ravi Vadlamani was the project advisor.
The bicycles and sewing machines were sponsored by RI District 3020. “To encourage participation, we announced that for each bicycle/sewing machine sponsored by a Rotary club, the district will match it with three. Of the 80 Rotary clubs in the district, 49 clubs participated,” said Satyanarain.
Around 1,200 bicycles and 3,190 motorised sewing machines, each costing around ₹6,000, were procured. The balance bicycles and sewing machines will be distributed in Vijayawada.
RI District 3020 includes six revenue districts and shortlisting deserving beneficiaries was a huge task, he said, adding, “We decided to gift bicycles to girl students studying in Classes 8–10, and sewing machines to women who have not availed benefits from other government schemes. For both the gifts the beneficiaries needed to be from BPL families.” A committee comprising Rotarians screened the application forms.
The wheelchairs were sponsored by the Rotary India Humanity Foundation, said Satyanarain. Of the 1,000 wheelchairs at the institute venue, 500 were given to the Indian Red Cross Society, Vizag chapter; 250 were given to the Indian Railways and another 250 were presented to the PHCs for distribution to deserving disabled people.
The smokeless chulhas, sponsored by RID 3030, were given to 500 tribal women to make their kitchen experience comfortable and easier.
DG Bhaskar Ram Vishwanath coordinated the event.
Pictures by Hemant Kumar