Every Rotarian must strive to drive out darkness in the world by lighting their communities with acts of love to make our planet a humane place, said RIPE Gordon McInally at a dinner meeting in Ahmedabad with over 250 Rotarians from RIDs 3053, 3054 and 3060. “We have to make love work in factories, companies, boardrooms, politics and across societies to create hope in the world brutalised by wars, terrorism and violence despite the unprecedented progress we are seeing in science and technology,” he said.
Rotarians have an important task of becoming champions of the causes they serve and “experts suggest that acts of kindness reduce stress, and ward off depression and other mental illnesses,” he said. “I am convinced that Rotary values will deliver hope in the world and the future generations will look back at us for our service projects.” He urged Rotarians to take pride in their work.
Putting forth his presidential focus, he said, “there are three important areas — teamwork and continuity; expanding peacebuilding initiatives; and mental health issues — which will take Rotary forward to create hope in the world.” He reiterated that “he would be standing on the shoulders of giants who had led Rotary in the past. After a seven-day tour of Chennai, Madurai, Kolkata, Mumbai, Nagpur and Ahmedabad, I realise that I will also be standing on the shoulders of giants of Indian Rotarians who will be serving with me together to create hope.”
Peace, a fragile construct
Earlier, addressing a gathering of 300 Rotarians from 50 clubs in RID 3030 at a dinner meet titled The Grand Gordon Show in Nagpur, he said the “horrors and ramifications of wars in Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan and Sudan will be felt deeply in the years to come with destruction and suffering all over the world. This only goes to prove that peace is such a fragile construct and despite scientific progress, elements like hate, nepotism, race, creed etc are thriving.” Peace and conflict resolutions constitute the basic DNA of Rotary. But the world is saddled with conflicts and “we as Rotarians must ensure that humanity thrives by spreading love so that atrocities of war and terrorism are put to an end for our children to lead a better life,” he said. Rotary is committed to peacebuilding and peace is not just the absence of war, “but more, as it is also about healthy children, education for all, providing water and sanitation, and people loving one another.”
When love takes the centrestage of human existence, “no child will go to bed hungry, justice will flow like a mighty river, we will treat each other as one big family, and above all, there will be peace in the world,” said McInally. But Rotary can’t build peace, “if there is no peace within Rotarians as we find the personal well-being of many is being challenged after the pandemic.” Social network was uprooted, and our children and young adults find their skills affected badly due to the Covid disruption. Stating that he had taken up wellness projects as a presidential initiative, he said, “Rotary clubs must build a mental healthcare system for their communities so that we have in place a number of preventive and interventionist care. We are known not only to serve the world, but also to take care of the interests and well-being of our members.” A recent study of the Ohio State University, US, showed that random acts of kindness “work against depression and elevate the mood of the people.”
During a talk show in Nagpur, RI directors-elect T N Subramanian and Anirudha Roy Chowdhury recalled their journey in Rotary, spoke about the good and bad elements in our zones; and the need to expand the Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity principle so that more opportunities are given to women to occupy top positions. To a question from EMGA Rajiv Sharma, the talk moderator, Subramanian noted, “the letter ‘I’ and three-letter word ‘ego’ are creating conflicts in society and within Rotary. We need a change of mindset. In future, women will change the face of Rotary as service comes naturally to them.”
Chowdhury said at present 23 per cent of global Rotarians are women, and “in all the projects being showcased to McInally in Nagpur, women are at the forefront. This shows how committed they are.” Senior Rotary leadership in India should be blamed if politics is giving a bad name to the country, said Subramanian. “But Rotarians can speak their mind boldly and put forth their views,” he said. Rotary in India could not be compared with that in other countries, as Indian Rotarians do phenomenal service projects each year, said Chowdhury.
We have to make love work across societies to create hope in the world brutalised by wars, terrorism and violence despite the unprecedented progress we are seeing in science and technology.
— Gordon McInally, RI President-elect
The clubs of RID 3030 are doing need-based projects across Rotary’s seven focus areas, said DG Anand Jhunjhunuwala. “Apart from running a school for special children, we have donated computer labs, set up toilet blocks and executed Happy School projects at various schools.” Two eye hospitals, two mobile eye clinics, seven dialysis centres, three global grants under execution to do 3,000 cataract surgeries, and a mammography bus to detect breast and cervical cancer are some of their projects, he said. In partnership with the Singer company and ICICI Foundation, 20 skill development centres were set up to train 2,500 people.
DRFC Mahesh Mokalkar, RID 3030, said “we are trying to make our district 100 per cent TRF-giving clubs this year and there are nine PHF clubs in RID 3030.” DGE Asha Venugopal said environment-related projects would be her priority; and “to begin with around one lakh solar lamps, lanterns and chullahs will be distributed to tribal families; and 10 lakh aerators will be fitted into taps to conserve water.”
Thanking the RIPE for visiting Ahmedabad when “RID 3054 is going to be bifurcated next year (as RIDs 3055 and 3056),” DG Balwant Singh Chirana said, “we will be chartering RC Jaipur Trans with 25 members, an exclusive club for transgenders, thus adopting the DEI policy.” A skin bank (GG: $75,000) was set up by RC Jaipur Midtown; and dialysis centre was inaugurated at the Rajasthan Hospital through a global grant of $50,000 by RC Jaipur Roundtown.
Each member would be asked to donate at least $25 for the Annual Fund of the TRF, said DGE Mehul Rathod, charter governor of RID 3055. He would ensure that there is at least one club for a taluk in Gujarat, and at least “7–8 clubs will be chartered in Ahmedabad, with the focus on old age home and school adoption.” Ten more mortuary vans would be added to the existing four vehicles, said DGE Nirmal Kunawat, RID 3056. With 90 clubs and 3,800 members the district leadership will do projects for women’s empowerment, water, sanitation and environment.
DGE Nihir Dave, RID 3060, listed the district’s main projects such as the eye hospital, Navsari; Rotary School, Dondaicha; drinking water and drainage facility in Surat; women’s empowerment centre, Shroff S R Rotary Institute of Chemical Technology and blood bank at Ankleshwar; diabetic care centre and skin bank at Rajkot; Haria L G Rotary Hospital at Vapi; and dialysis centres at Surendranagar, Surat, Jetpur and Dhule, and mammography and oral cancer detection vans.
RC Ahmedabad Metro showcased a Happy School at the Behrampura Municipal Gujarati School (₹30 lakh) and Jaipur foot distribution to 300 amputees at a five-day camp (₹22 lakh). “We reinforced the roof of the school building, renovated the toilet blocks with gender segregation, built a noon meal centre, and set up a smart classroom for students up to Class 10,” said Hardik Sompura, president-elect. A giant RO unit with a water cooler was installed to provide safe drinking water to 790 students at the two schools on this campus. Along with Jaipur foot, callipers and crutches were given at the Shivanand Ashram. “We donated 20 wheelchairs to the beneficiaries including children with cerebral palsy and paraplegic patients,” said Atul Parikh, club president. “We have given prosthetic hands — battery-operated Inali and LN-4 hands — to over 500 people at three camps in the city.”
RIDE’s tips to Interactors
A team of six Interactors from the Zebar School for Children, Ahmedabad, led by Rtn Manju Malaviya, Interact club advisor, briefed McInally about their projects and initiatives. “This is a nine-month-old club with 50 Interactors who donate essentials to orphanages, teach the underprivileged children on weekends, and have raised ₹40,000 for projects that benefit war-torn children in Ukraine, Sudan and quake-hit Turkey and Syria,” said Arup Sinha, Interact chair, RC Ahmedabad Greater.
A year lost in school during your RYE stint will be more than compensated by the global exposure.
— RIDE T N Subramanian, to Interactors
While interacting with the students, RIDE Subramanian urged them to participate in the Rotary Youth Exchange programmes. “A year lost in school during your RYE stint will be more than compensated by the global exposure. If required, I am ready to talk to your parents to convince them about letting you go for the YE programmes abroad.”
Projects galore in Nagpur
A three-year mental wellness project costing ₹25 lakh is being led Dr Rita Aggarwal from RC Nagpur in five English medium schools. The club has partnered with RC Naples, Florida,
US, for the global grant project which benefitted over 2,280 students, teachers and parents during its first two phases. Nilufer Rana, president, RC Nagpur, said the club has tied up with Tirpude College of Social Work and two NGOs for the wellness project. In the third phase, trainer Rowena Philips will hold workshops for 10 months under the theme of Breakfree from Depression for 3,000 students, teachers and parents “A laser system was donated to the Swami Vivekanand Medical Mission Hospital (SVMMH) for giving free treatment to kidney patients through a CSR grant of $21,146,” she said.
In partnership with the Mahavir International Trust, RC Nagpur North distributed the Jaipur foot to 115 amputees under Project Sahaita. “A mobile workstation goes around to take measurements and deliver custom-designed Jaipur limbs to beneficiaries. A global grant to set up our own manufacturing unit is in the pipeline,” said Jyotika Kapoor, president, RC Nagpur North.
Several medical projects were showcased by RC Nagpur Ishanya to McInally — OT equipment (₹30 lakh) to SVMMH; mammogram machines at the RST Cancer Hospital (₹30 lakh); a pathology lab at the Matru Sewa Sangh Hospital (MSSH) for ₹30 lakh; surgical neuro microscope (₹1.85 crore) for CIIMS Hospital; and child surgical theatre (₹35 lakh) at the MSSH — all through global grants. “Till April, 25 paediatric surgeries were done at the new surgical unit,” said Manisha Rathi, club secretary. Among the non-global grant projects, the Ishanya club donated two dialysis machines (₹12.5 lakh) and a cataract equipment, Ophthalmic Phacoemulsifier (₹15 lakh) to SVMMH; 50 desk-benches and 250 white canes to the Blind School; and 60 public toilets are being run by the club with funds from the Nagpur Municipal Corporation and Brahmos Aerospace.
A Covid ICU (GG: ₹40 lakh) which treated 400 patients was converted into a cardiac ICU at the SVMMH by RC Nagpur Vision. Club president Shivani Sule, an eye surgeon, said, “a haemodialysis centre with three machines, RO units and 6KV solar panel (₹30 lakh) was set up at the Sant Govindram Sahib Hospital.” The club has applied for a GG worth ₹30 lakh for donating a biomedical waste disposal unit for a 100-bed hospital. Regular medical and surgical camps for the State Reserve Police and surgical camps for tribal communities are also organised.
Pictures by V Muthukumaran