A special thanks to all of you. Your leadership and support have helped the Foundation do so much for humanity around the world,” said RI President Elect Barry Rassin, speaking at an event in Mumbai to felicitate the AKS members and major donors to TRF. RC Bombay, D 3141, hosted this special event to induct Rtn Arvind G Jolly and spouse Rashmi to the Arch Klumph Society. Titled Naman, it was a thanksgiving for the philanthropists of the district, said DG Prafull Sharma in his welcome address. The district has several Major Donors and five AKS members — “still more are on the pipeline,” he added.
“I am not one to ask anybody for money. I believe that if you really understand what the Foundation does with the donations you give, there is no need to ask,” said Rassin. Highlighting in his address each of Rotary’s core areas of focus, he reiterated: “That’s what your donation does to the world and that’s why I support the Foundation.”
Open up your wallets. Not because it’s your goal or you need to make a donation, but because we need your help. People out there need you.
Rassin said Bill Gates passionately supports Rotary, particularly the polio eradication programme, “because he knows that every dollar he gives us is spent appropriately to ensure that we fulfil our promise to children of the world. We have totally raised $1.7 billion and immunised 2.5 billion children. Very soon the world will be rid of polio, all thanks to the generosity of people like you. You make it happen.”
The contributions of Rotarians to TRF support peace and conflict resolution, through over 1,300 peace scholars who can make a difference in conflict-ridden areas. He related an incident about how a Peace Fellow from Israel, who stayed with a family in Palestine as part of his internship programme, got accepted by the family despite the initial hostility. When he left, the grandmother told him that she did not accept Israel, but he was always welcome in their home.
Rassin added that earlier that week, he had visited a few schools in Delhi where WinS has been implemented. “You should be proud of your WASH in Schools programme. Wherever I go, I use this programme as a model to encourage water and sanitation in schools. It’s not just about giving sanitation; it’s about changing behaviour.”
Referring to Rotary’s work after the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, the President Elect related how a Jeep provided to the local club through a matching grant could reduce maternal-child mortality by 50 per cent. “While the local club contributed $100, the Foundation supported the project with $70,000. Of the many projects that we supported in Haiti, for nearly a million dollars, people spoke more about the jeep.”
Referring to D 3141’s track record of being one of the top contributors with $1.2 million to TRF, he urged the incoming governor Shashikumar Sharma to set the bar at $7 million. “I am confident you will reach it,” he said. To the Rotarians he added, “Open up your wallets. Not because it’s your goal or you need to make a donation, but because we need your help. People out there need you.”
RI Director C Basker appreciated the fact that this was the first time an AKS induction ceremony was being held outside Evanston. “It will showcase the generosity of our Rotarians and inspire many more people,” he said. He highlighted Indian Rotarians’ philanthropic mindset which has put India in the second position in TRF giving. “We are No 1 in giving Major Gifts, No 2 in Endowment and No 3 in AKS giving. There are 800 AKS members world over, and it is because of people like them the world is a better place today”. He urged the incoming presidents to impress upon non Rotarians about the good work of TRF and Rotary so that they may channelise their donations to the organisation.
Because of your good work people could get a comprehensive blood profile for just $11. Back in my country, the same would cost $400–500.
Rassin and Basker presented the AKS certificate to Rtn Arvind Jolly and his spouse Rashmi. Jolly is a member of RC Bombay since 1982, while Rashmi is Honorary Consul General of the Czech Republic for Maharashtra and Goa. “I wanted to stay anonymous and keep contributing to the Foundation, but if my action can be an inspiration, then I’m happy to lead by example,” said Jolly in his acceptance speech. He recalled how Rashmi set the trend by attending club meetings. “Today it is nothing new. But back then, women were not welcome. We’ve come a long way since then. Now women are more proactive than us,” he added.
PRID Ashok Mahajan said Rotarians and non Rotarians had been supporting the Foundation with small or large contributions in the confidence that the Foundation was in capable and trustworthy hands. This trust should become a bigger force. In spite of recessions, wars, conflicts and calamities, TRF is growing. “There are many Rotarians who do not have a clear understanding of the specific programmes and projects sponsored by the Foundation, yet they contribute because they understand that the Foundation is accomplishing good in the world.”
RIDN Bharat Pandya, DGN Harjit Singh Talwar, TRF Manager from RISAO Shakuntala Raha, RRFC Vijay Jalan, past governors and other AKS members and Major Donors were also present. Preeti Shah of RC Mumbai Downtown Sealand was the convener. DGE Prafull Sharma proposed the vote of thanks.
Over to Chennai
Next, Rassin and Basker attended a TRF dinner in Chennai to felicitate donors from Districts 3000, 3231 and 3232. RIDN Floyd Lancia and spouse Betty from Atlanta were also present.
DG R Srinivasan welcomed the delegates and DRFC Sagar highlighted the district’s service projects. With $750,000 in its kitty, D 3232 is well on its way to meet the $1 million target, he said.
Rassin and Basker felicitated the AKS members and Major Donors. While DGND Muthu Palaniappan joined the AKS league, PDG J B Kamdar and spouse Marlene are preparing to step into the second level — the Chair Circle — having made a total contribution of $410,000 so far, PDG Raja Seenivasan added another $10,000 to his earlier donation of $281,000. PDG ISAK Nazar became a second level Major Donor, and Rtn Ambalavanan of RC Madras Midtown, a Major Donor Level III.
Rassin said he was impressed by the participation and passion of the Rotarians across the four cities — Delhi, Jaipur, Mumbai and Chennai — that
he visited during his week-long programme in India. He appreciated the “incredible job” that Indian Rotarians have done in polio eradication. “When the world thought that your country will be the last to eradicate polio, you proved them all wrong. Thank you for the marvellous work you all have done to make this country polio-free. From a high-receiving country, you’ve evolved into a top-giving country. Congratulations.”
Referring to his visit to the VHS Hospital earlier in the day, he said that he was amazed with the work Rotary has done there through its 3H grant. “Because of your good work people can get a comprehensive blood profile for just $11. In my country, it costs $400–500.”
He was touched when a 12-year-old girl who was undergoing transfusion at the VHS Blood Bank, got up from the bed and “with a big smile, shook hands with me. She goes to the blood bank every four weeks for transfusion and Rotary provided her, and 20 such people every day, that facility. This touches you. All this can be done because you give to the Foundation.”
On how TRF disburses funds to the districts, Rassin explained that 50 per cent of $100,000 donated to TRF comes back to the district. “I don’t know of any other charity that gives back 50 per cent of my donation and says you spend it three years later on projects of your choice. And to top it, we have the global grants to help us as well. Is there any other organisation that does that? No. That makes us unique.”
Director Basker appreciated D 3232 for focusing on health and treatment through most of the global grant projects and said that Chennai is a major hub for medical treatment for people from various parts of the country. “It’s surprising to note that a majority of passengers travelling to Chennai from the North East come here to avail medical help and Rotary is supporting most of these hospitals with sophisticated life-saving equipment. Club presidents should highlight such instances to your acquaintances to inspire them to contribute to the Foundation,” he said. Also, every member must donate at least $100 to TRF, he added.
Pictures by Jaishree