A memorable friendship exchange visit to Brazil

RFE delegates learning the finer points of coffee.
RFE delegates learning the finer points of coffee.

Many of us have been enthralled by the heavenly aroma and great taste of Brazilian coffee. Now, thanks to a partnership between Indian and Brazilian Rotarians, an endeavour will be made in Gujarat to produce the organic fertiliser that contributes to Brazil producing some of the best quality coffee in the world.

This information is shared by an excited Praful Dewani, chair of Rotary Friendship Exchange (RFE), RID 3060, for six years now. A past president of RC Vapi, he says that after a “long break due to the Covid pandemic, we had the opportunity to send our outbound team of eight Rotarians to RID 4560, Brazil, for two weeks in May 2022.”

Thanks to Brazil removing pandemic-related gathering and travel restrictions, DG Jose Carlos Azevedo (RID 4560), a good friend of Dewani, and DG Fredson Santos Dally (RID 4590) had organised an in-person multidistrict ­conference in Aguasa de Lindoiya, Brazil, and invited a team from RID 3060 to participate in it, and the invitation was accepted by DG Santosh Pradhan.

We had told them before our visit that the entire team of Rotarians from India are vegetarian and they had taken great care to organise good vegetarian food for us.

Before the pandemic, a team of Rotarians from Brazil had participated in RID 3060’s district conference in Goa in 2020. Dewani adds that this friendship exchange visit allowed “our Rotarians to make new friends with Rotarians of RID 4560, 4590 (Brazil) and RID 4455 (Peru), who were also present at this multidistrict conference.”

 

Treated like celebrities

Jignesh Vasani, past president from RC Valsad, RID 3060, who led the eight-member delegation told Rotary News, “We had an unbelievable time in Brazil, where we visited seven cities, and were put up either in the homes of local Rotarians or the villas that they had organised for us. We had told them before our visit that the entire team of Rotarians from India are vegetarian and they had taken great care to organise good vegetarian food for us.”

RFE team leader Jignesh Vasani and delegates at a coffee production facility in Brazil.
RFE team leader Jignesh Vasani and delegates at a coffee production facility in Brazil.

What he can’t get over is the fact that wherever the Indian Rotarians went, “we were treated as celebrities, not only by Rotarians but others. For instance, when we came across a marriage happening, the bride and the groom wanted to click pictures with the Rotarians from India.”

He added that present at the district conference were many businessmen and industrialists, and a special business session was held there. This was attended by several ministers and 13 mayors, and “they offered us a lot of incentives to set up industries/businesses in Brazil. They are offering us a 10-year tax holiday and also providing land free of cost. At the conference a lot of interest was expressed for exploring business and investment opportunities in India.”

RFE teaches us that despite language, food habits and cultural differences, a Rotarian is received by another Rotarian so warmly that all barriers simply disappear.

The result of the eight Rotarians’ visit to Brazil is that two teams will now come to India. The first is an RFE team of 12 Rotarians from Brazil who will attend the RID 3060 conference in January 2023. “They have also assured us that a larger delegation of 40–50 ­businesspersons, including some Rotarians, will visit Gujarat soon and explore investment options. They will be coming to Surat, Vapi and other places to explore opportunities in textiles, chemicals, ­pesticides and fertilisers.” This includes setting up a facility to manufacture the special type of organic fertilisers that Brazil farmers use to grow top quality coffee beans.

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The Indian delegation, which also included Vasani’s wife ­Kashmira, Kirtikumar and Daksha Vankadi, Vijay Kumar and Chetna Mangukiya (both the couples from RC Surat East) and Anil and Surekha Patil (RC Dhule), were later taken to a coffee production facility where they were taught the art of distinguishing between organic and ordinary coffee and other finer aspects to gauge the quality of good coffee.

 

Rotary projects

School-at-Boa-Esperanca
Indian Rotarians visit a school at Boa Esperanca, Brazil.

 

After attending the conference, the Indian Rotarians visited in different cities some Rotary projects mainly related to healthcare and literacy.

To help in improving medical care services through a project, RID 3060 has become the international partner of RI District 4560, Brazil, for a global grant, “and a sum of $73,214 has already been sanctioned, of which the contribution of RC Vapi is $5,835,” says Dewani.  Through these funds ­radiological equipment will be given to the Santa Casa of Caridad Hospital in the city of Capitolio, where Rotarians are involved in some aspects of hospital management. The GG was sponsored by ­RC ­Capitolio, RID 4560, and titled ‘Health is life’.

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Adds Dewani, “RFE teaches us that despite language, food habits and cultural differences, a Rotarian is received by another Rotarian so warmly that all barriers simply disappear.”

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