Reaching out to the visually-impaired youth, RC Poona Downtown, RID 3131, set up vocational centres at Luis Braille Apang Sanstha in Wagholi, a suburb in Pune, which has 100 boys and girls, and at Sai Guru Seva Sanstha in Narhe, a city neighbourhood, that hosts 20 girls.
Both the institutions sustain themselves by producing handcrafted items like bags, candles, caps, baskets and scarfs which are sold through market contacts. The Wagholi home also performs orchestra shows at social and religious events to augment resources for the inmates. “We have donated three sewing machines along with raw materials such as cloth, knitting wool, beads and frames, weaving plastic, jute and other tools for them to start producing a variety of utility items and sell through their channels,” said Kirti Mehta, club’s director. He was hopeful that the vocational centres would provide monthly revenue for taking care of the expenses at the two homes. The vocational centres (₹77,000) were funded by the CSR arm of Triveni Pattern Glass, apart from contributions from club members Aruna Rathi and Rama Sivaram for this project.
Prosthetic hand to aspiring girl
Young Anita Shinde was fitted with a prosthetic hand (Ottobock Myofascial) and was fully trained in its effective use by the club. Earlier, she wanted to become a doctor, but “after examining her, we realised that her goal was not achievable.” She was given counselling by doctors, and Anita is now charged up to crack the UPSC and MPSC competitive exams with rigorous study, said Mehta.
Anita will be enrolled in a coaching academy in Pune for preparations to take up the exams. Out of the estimated cost of ₹3 lakh covering tuition fees, hostel charges, books, travel and other incidentals over the next one year, her family will bear ₹50,000 and the rest ₹2.5 lakh will be met by well-wishers and club donors.
Tricycles to differently-abled
Physically-challenged Sudam Shinde from Yavat village, Daund taluk in Pune district, was donated a tricycle. “This gave a good visibility to our club and also enabled him to start a small business,” said Mehta. Another tricycle was given to Janardhan More from Shaniwar Wada in Pune and a third one sponsored by Rtn Dipti Bhonsle was donated to Kailas Nivgune. “Now that they are mobile, we will support the beneficiaries in identifying suitable vocation to make them financially strong,” he added.
Following recommendations from Rtn Jitu Mehta and the club, the Pravin Masalewale Trust donated a range of sports equipment to the Abhijitdada Kadam Sports Nursery which is being patronised by the slum children at Kothrud. “The children are being coached by Sagar Khaladkar who moves around on an electric wheelchair donated by our club,” adds Mehta.
Recently, the club donated an ECG machine (₹45,000) to the Family Planning Association of India, Pune, for scanning expectant mothers from lower strata of society.
The club has a long history of doing noteworthy projects for the disabled and “this year under the leadership of president Phiroze Masters we are continuing with our tradition.” Chartered in 1986, the club is popular for holding mega LN-4 hand fitment camps in partnership with other Rotary clubs in India. “So far, we have distributed around 4,000 LN-4 prosthetics at more than 50 artificial hand fitment camps,”he added.