Exemplary team work helps a club sustain a project for 12 years

In countries like India, which are not welfare states in the true meaning of the word, unlike, say, the Nordic ones, that take total care of the medical, nutritional and housing needs of their senior citizens, helping the elderly to live with dignity is a huge challenge. Many Rotary clubs in India are doing their mite in helping the elderly in a variety of ways. Even more heartening, I have found our Rotaractors excelling in visiting homes for the elderly and entertaining them through music, dance and games and taking them for fun outings. But what is apparently the first-of-its-kind in terms of passion, dedication, meticulous planning and execution and above all sustainability, a factor the Trustees of The Rotary Foundation never tire of repeating, is the daily tiffin meal service for 100 elders launched by the Rotary Club of Solapur 12 years ago. And in these 12 years, hold your breath, come rain or shine, curfew or communal tension, or an odd beneficiary being in a hospital, not a single meal in the project named Annapurna has remained undelivered on a single day.

Do the math and you get a mind-blowing number — a single club delivering through 4,380 days (or 12 years) 438,000 tiffins, spending ₹1.44 crore. And without a single global grant! All this money has been raised by RC Solapur with generous contributions from the local community and beyond. The freshly-cooked hot, tasty and nutritious meals are delivered to the elders, all above 65, who were meticulously chosen after thorough research. They were once upon a time self-sufficient and led a life of dignity, but now have no one to ensure them a healthy meal every day. The tiffin carrier is reached to them day after day to a point very close to their homes in an auto rickshaw which makes nine stops along a 14 km-route in the city.

Indian Rotary clubs are only too familiar with any number of stories on how projects, some of them really good, started by one president, are not continued the next year when a new bunch of leaders take charge of the club. It is natural for the new leader to bring in his/her own ideas, but the community’s longstanding needs can be served only through continuing projects. And this can happen only when successive club presidents take ownership of an iconic or vintage project of the club. In Solapur, I found not only past presidents but also past district governors displaying pride in this project. And the committee members of Annapurna never tired of telling me how each president saw to it that he collected money during his year for Annapurna in such a way that he left behind a neat surplus for his successor.

Read the cover story of this issue to experience the pride that this bunch of Rotarians from Solapur have for their beloved project and discover the pains they take to ensure that a fresh, tasty and quality meal reaches their 100 elderly friends day after day, year after year.

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Rasheeda Bhagat

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