Water-related projects, his priority
Among the hallmarks of Rotary, it is diversity that attracted Mehul Rathod to this service organisation. “I watched my late father H V Rathod, a doctor, reaching out to communities as founder-president of RC Deesa. As a child, I was impressed by his service. My brother PDG Shashank Rathod also inspired me with his work,” recalls DG Rathod.
He wants to start 10 new clubs and add 450 new Rotarians. There are 82 clubs with 3,000-plus members in the district. “The focus is on water-related projects like rainwater harvesting, recharging borewells and better water management as 80 per cent of our district suffers from scarcity of drinking water. Project Jal Saskrata (water literacy) will reach out to schools and institutions.” Through a mix of CSR grants, club donation, global grants and sponsorship, “we will be doing at least ₹1.5 crore worth of water-related projects.”
Medical equipment will be donated to hospitals at Kadi, Kalol; and a Rotary Blood Bank on Abu Road, Rajasthan, will be upgraded. At least 20 schools and 20 old age homes will be renovated. “I want to collect $26.5 from each Rotarian — this has sentimental value as the first Endowment Fund was created with this amount in 1917 — for contributing $300,000 to the Annual Fund; and my TRF target is $800,000.” Though a non-Rotarian, “my wife Bhavana is a keen follower of Rotary events and encourages me to take leadership roles.” His younger son Abhijit is a Rotaractor just like Rathod who was a Rotaractor for six years till 1985.
100 ‘transformation’ villages planned
Having seen the efforts of Rotarians “working tirelessly to change lives, I was drawn to Rotary in 1999,,” says Swati Herkal. Her top priority is transforming 100 villages which the clubs have already adopted with their RCCs doing a plethora of community projects there.
Project Parivartan aims to develop villages through a 10-point agenda for inclusive growth — Drushti (vision), Srushti (nature), Swachh (WASH in schools), Aastha (menstrual hygiene), Saksham (employability), Swayam (self-dependent), Bhoomi (earth), Jal Dhara (riverside plantations), Vidya (knowledge) and Aai (mother). “All the Rotary Parivartan grams will be transformed through CSR grants, club donation and GG projects,” she says. One of her favourite initiatives is the soil regeneration technique (SRT), a pilot project being done in three villages in Wai taluk, Satara district, with all the 70 farmers “reporting good harvest with improvement in soil quality.” With inputs from expert Rotarians, the farmers adopted the SRT “which improved soil productivity, reduced labour cost, usage of chemicals and increased the use of biofertilisers.” Now, the SRT will be taken to over 1,000 farmers.
Around one lakh saplings will be planted with the help of NGOs. Rotary clubs will hold 10 surgical camps this year. “My target is to do 100-plus Happy Schools. Under Project E-Teacher, over 1,000 rural schools with just a teacher or two will be converted into digital schools with installation of digital classrooms,” she explains. Her TRF target is $500,000.
Focus on literacy, health & environment
Starting the new Rotary year with a bang, the district clubs have planted one lakh saplings across 245 villages in one hour on July 1. “With this greening mission, we have entered the World Records Union. We will take up diverse projects in literacy, health and environment, worth ₹1 crore this year,” says Bharanidharan.
On the Chennai-Bengaluru highway, seven Paul Harris community toilets will be set up at ₹40 lakh, sourced from club donations and district grants.
“A Rotary dialysis centre with seven machines will be installed at the Janus Global Hospital, Kancheepuram, through a GG of $70,000. Around 50 medical camps will be held for Rotarians, Anns and Annets,” he says.
To facilitate e-learning, Byju’s app will be introduced in over 1,000 government schools for students from Classes 9–11. “Around 300 wheelchairs will be distributed.”
He wants to add 1,000 new members and 10 new clubs; his target for TRF-giving is $200,000. When his son Jishnu was born in 2001, “he was overweight (4.5kg) and could not breathe or cry. The newborn was shifted to the ICU at the CMC, Vellore, and was urgently in need of five units of blood.” His Rotary friends “instantly responded by giving blood and my son was saved.” Amazed by the selfless attitude of Rotarians, he joined his club in 2001 as a charter member.
“I am alive because of Rotary”
A couple of life-threatening diseases almost took DG Senguttuvan to the brink of death, “but thanks to my Rotary friends I am alive today, hale and healthy,” he smiles. In 2009, he was admitted to the KDR Hospital, Thanjavur, run by a Rotarian, as both his kidneys had failed due to acute infection. Based on his recommendation, “I was rushed to the Sri Ramachandra Hospital, near Chennai, and I recovered fully.” Again in 2020, he was infected with Covid while supplying food to 400 migrant families and was in the ICU for a month. “Rotarians gave me confidence and hope during those traumatic days.” .
He plans to install 40 analog clock towers (₹25 lakh) at roundtanas, and distribute 3,000 helmets with Rotary logo to two-wheeler riders. Three dialysis centres (GG: ₹27 lakh each) and two neonatal wards (GG: ₹28 lakh each) will be set up at private hospitals. For the government schools, five toilet blocks (GG: ₹40 lakh) and 100 handwash stations (₹25 lakh) through club donations and district funds will be constructed. One lakh mangrove saplings will be planted at the coastal villages.
A mega sanitation block will be built (CSR: ₹40 lakh) near the famous Brihadeeswara temple, Thanjavur. His TRF-giving target is $1 million. “I joined Rotary in 2006 to enjoy fellowship,” he adds.