Bamon Mollar Chak, a tiny village 62 km from Kolkata and close to the Sunderbans, sported a festive look recently as the villagers got ready to welcome 85 foreign Rotarians from RID 3490, Taiwan, led by PRIP Gary Huang, spouse Corinna and DG Chih Ming Tsai; and 15 Rotarians from Singapore; along with PRIDs Sushil Gupta, Shekhar Mehta and RID 3291 DG Mukul Sinha. They were all there to inaugurate the Rotary Skill Centre established by RC Calcutta Metro South to skill the women in the village. International partners and TRF have supported the club with funds, while DG Sinha sanctioned $25,000 from the DDF to upgrade the centre with requisite infrastructure.
The village has undergone a massive transformation, thanks to the dedicated efforts of the club. The Rotarians came across this village three years ago and found it a backward hamlet, without toilets, electricity, drinking water, medical facilities or a school. “It was in a state of complete neglect when we first visited it,” says club member Anirudha Guha.
The Rotarians led by their President Asit Talukdar came up with solutions to transform the village into a livable space. Toilets were constructed for 123 families; “we are only 40 toilets away from making this village ODF,” smiles Guha. Four tubewells have been dug to take care of the drinking water needs of the people and two borewells with pumpsets will provide water for irrigation. “Like most other villages, this is an agricultural community, but the people depend heavily on the monsoon. But now with water provided by Rotary, their single-crop lands have become multiple crop yielding fields. Around 200 acres of land has turned fertile.” The Rotarians are supporting the villagers with financial assistance and training them in vocations such as pisciculture and organic farming. Women are trained to make pickles, jams and sauce.
Now with water provided by Rotary, their single-crop lands have become multiple crop yielding fields. Around 200 acres of land has turned fertile.
Medical camps are being conducted regularly, and the pothole-filled roads have been given a makeover. The club also facilitated construction of a wide wooden bridge across a river for easy mobility from one part of the village to the other. “Earlier the villagers were using a makeshift bridge made of bamboo poles tied together and when the river swelled during monsoons, the bridge was unusable. People had to sail across on rafts. This bridge is sturdy and dependable now,” he says.
The club built a school in this village in 2016 and is providing all assistance for the students. Two years later they built the skill centre in 2018. PRID Gupta expressed his appreciation for the enthusiastic endeavour of the club members and asked them to make it a “centre of excellence so that women get to learn various skills that will help them in income generation and lift them above the poverty line.”