Hospet, a small town along Tungabhadra river in the Bellary district of Karnataka, owes a lot to Rotary with the local club, RC Hospet, D 3160, setting up a slew of projects in health care and education.
On the sidelines of the TRF seminar, RC Hospet President P S Gurunath and his team had a CSR meet with local businessmen and their main agenda was on WinS (Wash in Schools) projects that would target 10–12 Government schools. “We will change the children’s mindset and sensitise them on hygiene and sanitation with the installation of gender-segregated toilet blocks, drinking water units and awareness on menstrual hygiene among girl students,” says Gurunath.
The club is popular for its social outreach and medical facilities it has installed on one side of the Railway Station Road. Even the club’s spacious hall is available for public meetings. P Bala Subba Setty Rotary Physiotherapy Centre and R Pampapathy Rotary Eye Hospital are synonymous with “our public connect through effective medical service.” Since May 2011, the physiotherapy centre headed by Dr P Jaya Rao has been treating 80–100 patients a day. They conduct electro-physical therapies for accidents, paralysis and back, knee and neck pain, besides handling children with cerebral palsy. Dr Jaya Rao is assisted by six paramedics.
The 10-year-old eye hospital has done 11,000 cataract surgeries and performs nearly 100 of them free of cost each month. A weekly eye camp is held to select the patients for the cataract procedure. An Eye Collection Centre to facilitate donors will be opened before March 2018 as they now depend solely on the Eye Bank at Bellary, 65 km away.
Dialysis and other facilities
For the kidney patients in Hospet, P Bala Subba Setty Rotary Dialysis Centre which was started with a Term Gift supported by a global grant, is a boon. Noor Ahmed (53) used to travel either to Bellary or Hubli, 152 km away, for dialysis thrice a week before the arrival of the Rotary facility. Now, he saves a lot of money and time by using this dialysis centre. “It is very comfortable; all the tests are being done by the local staff,” he says. With six dialysis machines, the centre handles 11–12 patients in a day and charges Rs 900 per cycle.
RI Director C Basker, who presided over the TRF seminar, visited all the medical facilities set up by the club and suggested that the Rotarians try and further reduce the cost of medical tests and treatment. “You should try and find global partners and then apply for global grants to subsidise the cost of the services you are providing.” He complimented the club members for the enthusiasm with which they were serving the community in Hospet.
Dr Pallavi Amarnath, Chief Medical Officer, says a nephrologist visits the dialysis centre once in 15 days. “In the last two years, 5,762 dialysis procedures were done, 480 free of cost,” says Rtn Y Srinivasa Rao, Project Chairman, Dialysis Unit. At present, 42 patients are getting treatment. But the oldest health project is the AAPI Charitable Dispensary, started in 1991, that gets a monthly contribution of $1,000 from Dr Vijayanagar, an NRI from the US and a former resident of Hospet. “A nominal fee of Rs 10 is charged per visit for consultation and free medicine for two days,” says Dr Amarnath. The main takeaways from the general clinic are the free antenatal check-ups for pregnant women; free distribution of iron, calcium tablets; IV injection for anaemic pregnant women; and nebulisation, given free of cost for asthmatic patients. The health centre gets about 90 patients a day.
The Asha Project run by two doctors has bagged Rotary’s Significant Achievement Award and it gets nearly 100 HIV positive patients a day who are given free counselling. The Vocational Centre holds two courses on Tally and basic computer operations for 80 trainees. It has already trained 3,000 beneficiaries who are mostly women and small traders, apart from students who enrol in computer batches.
Regular health camps enable the club to stay connected with the community. “There is good response for our acupressure camps too,” says Gurunath.
On the hygiene front, a toilet complex was built in June 2003 with a matching grant and a sponsoring club — RC Union County, Georgia, D 6910 — at the town’s shopping area. The public comfort facility has seven toilets for men and four units for women, besides a urinal block and a cloak room. “We have spent Rs 3.5 lakh to renovate the toilet complex recently to match the needs of the local shoppers,” says Dr P Muni Vasudeva Reddy, President-elect of the club. Shortly, two more toilet complexes will come up for the general public.
Through a matching grant, 10 low-cost houses, 300 sq ft each, with attached toilets and running water, were handed to the beneficiaries in 2000–01, says Rtn Tirupathi Naidu, District Secretary. He adds that the club will soon become a 100 per cent PHF entity.
Bharathi Hosakeri, the headmistress of the Rotary English Medium Higher Primary and High School, is all excitement that the school is going to get Class X from the coming academic year. All the students, she is optimistic, will excel in the board exams next year. Class 9 student K Manjula is euphoric. “I have vastly improved on my studies with encouragement and personal coaching from the teachers. Next year, we will bring laurels to the school by earning good marks at the public exam,” she says. The club spent Rs 25 lakh under a global grant project in which e-learning devices were given to 50 government schools for smart classrooms. A school for the mentally and physically-challenged children will be started and “the municipality will soon give us land,” adds Gurunath.
Membership, TRF targets
The 122-member club, which has inducted nine new members, is getting ready to soon induct its first woman member. In TRF, the club has set a target of $30,000, up from $24,000 in 2016–17. “From 2000, there is a mining boom in Hospet, because of which we are able to find donors for our projects,” says Rajesh Korishetar, Secretary of the club. But air connectivity is a problem in this region — it has only two private airstrips in Toranagallu, 35 km from Hospet, and Ginegara in Koppal district, 25 km away from the town.
All important festivals are celebrated and now the club allows parents and children of Rotarians and Inner Wheel members to compete in indoor games such as carrom, table tennis and throw ball; as also cricket. “The idea is to involve the extended families of Rotarians in our activities,” he explains.
With three Rotaract and two Interact clubs, Gurunath is still looking to expand Rotary’s reach in the student community.
Pictures by V Muthukumaran