Focus on holistic community growth
Instead of giving fish, teach the community how to fish, says V R Muthu, who was inducted into the Chair’s Circle (Level-2) of AKS and will complete his payment this June. He is the third Rotarian from the state to join the second AKS level. “I believe in community development, rather than community service,” he says. “I don’t believe in numbers. Instead of adding members, I believe in increasing our TRF contribution, and my thrust will be on Foundation giving,” he says. His target for TRF giving is $1.2 million. Thanks to Rotary, “we are one world without borders. I am an optimist and India has become a leader in the Covid pandemic management. Apart from immunising our population, we are a global supplier of Covid vaccines.”
Having ‘Support girl children’ as the district theme, a two-hour motivation programme for school and college girls is being held under the signature project Yathumanaval (she is everything). “Around 1,000 to 4,000 girls attend these sessions conducted by motivation speaker Jayanthasri Balakrishnan. Our aim is to promote courage and confidence among girls,” explains Muthu. So far, 24 such programmes were held, and the target is to reach 42,000 girls. A three-day RYLA in each month grooms 32 youth in entrepreneurship. “We have trained 640 students and Rotaractors till now, and will reach out to 180 more during this year.” Already, 94 of them have started their own ventures. Muthu joined Rotary in 1981 and former Tamil Nadu CM K Kamaraj is his “ideal as he is the father of literacy movement in the state.”
Mega eye camps for schoolchildren
Mega service programmes like polio eradication, networking and fellowship are key factors “that motivate me to be active in Rotary ever since I joined the organisation in 2000,” says Pramod Nayanar. He is inspired by PRIP Rajendra K Saboo and his two-volume book Look Beyond Yourself is “something that is close to my heart.”
So far, 180 artificial limbs (Jaipur foot) and 900 wheelchairs were distributed at special camps. “We will be holding mega eye camps for schoolchildren across the five revenue districts comprising RID 3204. The camps will reach out to around 50,000 students in the coming months,” he says.
To shore up the public image of Rotary, a mega rally against drug abuse was conducted in September in which over five lakh people took part including police, excise officials, councillors and local VIPs. “The Rotary rally passed through all the revenue districts and the volunteers interacted with the school students.” RCs Kasaragod and Kabany Valley were the co-hosts of this anti-drug rally. After the rally, “we got positive feedback from many quarters and some wanted to join Rotary, hence the event boosted our public image.” His target for TRF giving is $500,000.
One of his notable projects is the setting up of a dialysis centre (GG: $34,000) with 10 machines at Kalpetta in Wayanad district. “We will take up more projects and programmes that will enhance our public image in this part of Kerala,” he says. His wife Sreevidya, also a Rotarians, is his anchor in all initiatives and activities.
Great scope for Rotary in Bihar, Jharkhand
Two days are defining moments in a Rotarian’s life, says Sanjeev Thakur. “The first one is the day he or she joins a Rotary club like the way I became a member in 1999. At that time, I was looking only for friendship and fellowship. But in due course, I got involved in the polio corrective surgeries done by my club; and when I saw the smiles on the faces of beneficiaries, then at that moment Rotary entered my blood, the second most important day in my life,” he recalls.
In January, a mega distribution of sewing machines was launched with funds collected from friends of Rotary and club donations. “Our target is to reach out to 1,000 women to empower them through a regular income,” says Thakur. One mammography bus (GG: $100,000) and two eye-screening buses (GG: $120,000) will be flagged off to provide medical care to the villagers.
With district grants, the clubs will be distributing 1,000 water wheels to tribal women. “There is tremendous potential for growth in this region with lots of revenue districts in Bihar and Jharkhand having no presence of Rotary,” he says. “But the challenge is the terrain as the distance between the two ends is over 1,500km.” He aims to collect $400,000 for TRF. He, along with spouse Poonam, a Rotarian and former Inner Wheel chair of RID 325, has a “good knowledge of what needs to be done to lift the backward communities. As passionate Rotarians we are working on it.”
Diversity strengthens clubs
The DEI — Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity — principle is now Rotary’s core mantra and in tune with it “we love to have diverse Rotarians from Bengal and Northeast India comprising different cultures and lifestyle. We enjoy their fellowship and their inclusion will enhance our public image. The huge diversity of northeast is our strength, says Kushanava Pabi.
He joined Rotary in 1988, but became active only since 2000 when he was club president. “In the first decade of 2000, there was a snag in my professional life with the demise of my father. With the support of friends and well-wishers in Rotary, I overcame the personal tragedy… it was a process of reinventing life for me then,” recalls Pabi. Rotarians must nurture a “strong mentality to serve society in the best possible manner.”
Now busy doing a tightrope walk between looking after Camri Hospital, Burdwan, and Rotary activities, he says 64 district grants are being used by clubs for community projects. Two dialysis centres (five units each) will be set up at the Indian Red Cross Society, Burdwan, and in Siliguri with GG worth $120,000; while a mobile dental clinic (GG: $70,000) will come up in Durgapur. An eye hospital will be set up in Agartala (GG: $70,000). “We have set up two dialysis centres in Bangladesh,” he says. His target for TRF giving is $500,000. Late PDG Ramesh Agarwal, who was instrumental in forming RID 3240, and PDG Samir Choudhury from his home club are his role models.