Rotary Club of Gauhati South, RID 3240, along with VisionSpring, a social enterprise, and B&A group of companies, organised an eye checkup camp for tea pluckers working in the tea gardens at Jorhat, Golaghat and Sibsagar districts. The club had set a target of screening 6,000 labourers and wrapped up the camp screening 6,700 people by June. “We dedicate the success of the project to late past president Dhiraj Kakati who had launched the initiative in 2021 during his presidentship. We ran it for two years,” says Rajesh Bhatra, the club’s IPP.
Tea plucking is a demanding job that relies heavily on good vision. It requires a good hand-and-eye coordination, dexterity and speed. “For fine black or green tea, pluckers must carefully select the first two leaves and one new bud from the tea bush. However, for many tea pluckers in Assam, good vision is not a given. Being cash-strapped, they lack access to eyeglasses, which makes it difficult for them to perform their job to the optimal level,” explains Bhatra.
Being cash-strapped, tea workers lack access to eyeglasses, which makes it difficult for them to perform their job to the optimum level.
Eyeglasses can greatly improve the productivity of a tea plucker by enhancing the visual acuity and reducing eyestrain. The club provided spectacles to the tea pluckers with defective vision.
The club is honouring visually-challenged youngsters with the annual ‘Archana and Atul Chandra Goswami Memorial Award’ since 2014. The award constitutes a prize of ₹10,000 and a citation. Last year the award was presented to Shahid Afridi, a 14-year-old blind student of the Guwahati Blind High School for his proficiency in music. Former AGM of State Bank of India Bikash Das, who is also visually-challenged, was the chief guest at the event.
At the start of this year, the club, led by its president Nawajyoti Sharma, signed an MoU with the Marwari Hospitals in Guwahati for treating people with thalassaemia. The hospital will perform blood transfusions and provide medicines free of cost to patients, and the club will pay a discounted price to the hospital for the services. A fundraiser cultural programme helped the club raise ₹8 lakh through sale of tickets and a painting auctioned for ₹50,000; of this ₹4.8 lakh was earmarked for the project through the club’s Trust.
In another initiative, the Rotarians released 50,000 fishlings into Deepor Beel, a freshwater lake located southwest of Guwahati with an aim to boost fish diversity and also safeguard the lake’s fragile ecosystem. This project, Bhatra says, was built upon the success of a previous project “where we introduced fish farming as a sustainable livelihood opportunity in Kalitapara village with the help of our RCC Chakradeo. The villagers have since improved economically and are pursuing the vocation with zeal.”