Touching little lives
In the last two months, I’ve had the opportunity to look at two great medical projects that have quite a lot in common. Both are undertaken by the “richer” Rotary Districts located in the two most prosperous and powerful metros of India — Delhi and Mumbai — Districts 3012 and 3141. First of all, both want to change the lives of children; secondly, both have their District Governors as well as Rotarians fired up with the enthusiasm, energy, passion and almost a crusading spirit to push the boundaries as far as possible, in these two mega humanitarian projects.
In Delhi, I found a very enthusiastic and excited DG of 3012, Sharat Jain, all fired up to embrace and enlarge the scope of the project started by the Rotary Club of Delhi Riverside to give the gift of hearing to children who were either born hearing deficient or had turned deaf due to some infection or disease. Running as it does the Rotary Institute for Special Children, it was a natural fit for the club to get involved in the passionate pursuit of ENT Surgeon Dr J M Hans, a Padmashri recipient, to fit such children with cochlear implants and help them to get back their hearing, and then speech. The cover story tells you all about how after witnessing the dramatic difference the implant made in these little lives — often, in villages, such hearing handicapped children, who can’t speak, are classified “mad” and locked up in houses — the DG has thrown his weight behind this project, naming it One More Life. Using Rotary’s “cascading effect”, he hopes to multiply the project’s reach and raise at least Rs 1 crore by the end of his term to help many more children.
In Mumbai, I found matching passion and commitment in District 3141 DG Gopal Rai Mandhania, who has embraced the Touching Little Hearts project, wherein several clubs raise money to help perform paediatric heart surgeries to save the lives of children from poor families, who can never afford such care under the best of medical facilities. At the swank Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Multispecialty Hospital, I met a bunch of Rotarians who devote their time, energy and help raise funds for operating children with heart disease. Some of the babies who are operated upon are barely a few days or weeks old, and the gratitude that you see in the parents’ eyes tells you stories that words cannot convey.
In both these projects, much more than the funds raised, it is personal interest, relentless work and follow-up action, done by a band of Rotarians that is giving hope to the hopeless. One refrain I heard repeatedly in both Delhi and Mumbai was: Raising money is not a problem; money, however big the sum, comes if there is focus, commitment, passion and direction, and if the cause is the right one. If in the cochlear implant project Dr Hans, whose life’s passion has been to do these surgeries, is the rallying point, in the paediatric heart surgeries, it is the dedication of the smiling, soft-spoken Paediatric Heart Surgeon Dr Suresh Rao that inspires Mumbai’s Rotarians to raise funds and provide all other required support to ensure that this year 100 little hearts will be healed. While the cochlear implant story is covered in this issue, the article describing the D 3141 project will be covered in a subsequent issue of Rotary News.