Today I saw Rotarians who are really and truly people of action; I was very impressed with this project that Rotarians in RI District 3150 are running in such a central place in Hyderabad, offering quality dialysis service at such a modest cost,” Trustee Chair Gary Huang said after visiting a global grant project done by Rotary Club of Hyderabad Deccan.
He said the project, that is jointly being implemented by the Secunderabad Gurudwara, the Bhagwan Mahavir Trust and the Rotary club, was a fine example of partnership and collaboration.
Sunil Jain, under whose presidentship in 2015–16 this global grant was done, said the 12-bed facility had become a reality through a $60,000 global grant done in partnership with an American club in RI District 6450. This centre offers a dialysis session for as low as ₹300, and is a boon to middle class people with kidney disease.
Added Gary, “I was both surprised and amazed at the low cost at which such a quality medical service is being offered to people in such a clean place. To run a medical centre at such a costly location would have pushed up the price, but this organisation (gurudwara) has offered the place free of cost. I was most happy to see the patients undergoing dialysis smiling and so happy. I am told that such a dialysis session would cost 8 or 10 times more in a private facility offering similar quality care. I would call it a very smart and intelligent project.”
Accompanied by Trustee Gulam Vahanvaty, EMGA Sam Patibandla, RID 3150 DG Sivannarayana Rao, Club President Shailesh Gumidelli and other members of the club, the Trustee Chair walked around the dialysis facility, shaking hands with the patients and talking to them.
Praveen Kumar, 53, is an electrician and ended up with a kidney problem four years ago due to an enlarged heart. “I come here thrice a week, and have been doing so for the last four years. I have to pay only ₹300 for a dialysis session and I don’t have to travel far for it,” says the grateful man.
Similarly, P V Ram Reddy, 63, a retired lecturer, who needs a dialysis sessions twice a week and has been coming here for six months, says he cannot afford to pay ₹2,000–2,500 that private hospitals charge for one dialysis session. “I am grateful to these three organsiations for making dialysis affordable for me.”
Lavina John, a beautician, says both her kidneys are shrinking and hence she needs dialysis at regular intervals, and so does Firdause, whose husband works in catering.
Sharath Choudary, another member of the club, adds, “Next year we will be adding six more machines as the gurudwara is making some more space available.” While the dialysis machines have been put up by Rotary, the Mahavir Foundation runs the place with its technicians and other supporting staff, this being one of the four centres it runs in Hyderabad. Vahanvaty adds: “This is such a perfect project; it’s community-
based and it is wonderful to see three entities — Rotary, the gurudwara and the Mahavir Foundation — coming together to provide this excellent service.”
Past president Jain adds that this project has been running smoothly for the last four years; “we do about 750 to 800 dialysis sessions a month, which adds up to 10,000 a year. The Mahavir Foundation was a great partner because as they already ran other centres, they have the technical know-how to run the operations.”
In the evening, RC Hyderabad Deccan hosted a CSR conclave in which several corporate heads were invited for an understanding of how they can partner with The Rotary Foundation to most effectively use their CSR funds mandated by the Government of India.
At a joint programme for RI Districts 3150 and 3020, the AKS members from several districts were honoured.
Addressing the meet, EMGA Sam Patibandla thanked Vahanvaty for choosing Hyderabad as one of the five cities for the Trustee Chair’s visit. “Our zones are doing very well, in both participation in community welfare projects and also TRF contribution. During the last Rotary year, 2018–19, the contribution from our zones was an all-time high at $21.4 million.” While District 3190 emerged at the top with $3 million; RID 3141 came second with $2.6 million. If RID 3141’s TRF contribution was to be clubbed with that of 3142 (both together earlier formed the combined district 3140), it would emerge at the No 1 position at $3.8 million.
He announced that this year, the district governors from our zones (including Sri Lanka and Nepal) have put their TRF goal at $30 million.
Another feather in India’s cap, added Patibandla, was that its elite AKS club had reached the mark of 100, and “we’ve just overtaken Taiwan. We are lucky to have today with us nine AKS members from Rajasthan and Gujarat (PDGs Ramesh Agrawal; Maullin and Sonal Patel from RID 3054); West Bengal (Krishnendu Gupta D 3291); Andhra Pradesh and Telangana (Dayanand and Meera Gauri; Vikram Reddy and Vyjayanthi; Uday and Rupali Pilani; Ravi Vadlamani and Marri Ravindra Reddy from D 3150), and Kerala (Sudhi Jabbar, D 3211).
Patibandla disclosed that Uday Pilani and Rupali were the “Rotarians who had successfully bid for the “End Polio” paintings that were done on the stage by a young painter from the Bahamas at the Hamburg Convention. Both the paintings were displayed in the corridor at the event.
Welcoming Trustee Chair Gary, Trustee Vahanvaty, and the corporate representatives, Shailesh Gumidelli, President of RC Hyderabad Deccan which presented a cheque of $300,000 to TRF, said, “Our love affair with TRF began long ago; we were one of the first clubs to become 100 per cent PHF in RID 3150, and we have now two AKS families, 20 Major Donor families and over 50 PH Fellows and all the members contribute to the Foundation every year.” When it came to community projects, the members worked mainly to promote education and literacy and control disease and “we do this with the support of TRF, Rotary friends around the world and of course our members.”
RID 3020 DG Veerabhadra Reddy (Bobby) said as on July 1, 2019, there were 3,231 PHFs in his district which had a membership of 3,776. “During 2018–19 our district contributed $100,000 for polio, and this Rotary year, we want to double it to $200,000. So far nine global grants have been implemented, two more are in the pipeline, and applications for another two are in the offing. RC Vijayawada Midtown, one of the biggest clubs in the world with 747 members is going to cross the membership mark of 800 very soon.”
When he added that last year his district had raised $862,000 for TRF, Patibandla said, “This year your goal is $1 million, I hope.”
RID 3150 DG Sivannarayana Rao said that at the last Disha (district officers training programme) the target given was $750,000, “but we surpassed it. By seeing the momentum, I am sure I can raise $1 million this year. We plan to convert 1,000 schools into Happy Schools, work for women’s empowerment through micro enterprises and induction of more women into Rotary.” Another goal was to raise his district membership from the present 3,568 to 5,000, of which around 500 would be women, he added.
Sharath Choudhury, a member of the club, made a presentation on CSR contributions in the world, explaining at length how various philanthropists spent their wealth on the social sector, and “how a gold mine is waiting for us to be discovered.” Interestingly, he added, that in India, contributions from ultra HNIs was ₹24,000 crore, twice the amount spent from CSR funds (₹12,000 crore). “And 80 per cent of the money from the ultra HNIs comes from one man — Azim Premji — through his Azim Premji Foundation. We have to ponder… what is it that makes a man like Premji, or Rtn Ravishankar from (RC Bangalore Orchards) or Bill Gates or Warren Buffet give so much of their wealth.”
Quoting another philanthropist, Rockefeller, who said “philanthropy, when done with involvement, innovation and passion can transform society,” Chowdhury added that the greatest philanthropists didn’t just give their money to the PM or CM’s relief fund but used it through personal involvement.
On why he decided to become an AKS member, Uday Pilani said that a few years ago when he returned from Nigeria and learnt that Vikram Reddy had given $250,000 to TRF, “I wondered if I could do it too. Then I saw Ravishankar from Bengaluru give ₹100 crore, and that gave me the inspiration. I explored why people give to the Foundation. Having been a Rotarian for 15 years, I had done projects but didn’t know details of how the money came. When I dug deeper into the Foundation, I found that TRF structures well and makes much bigger the work I want to do.” And his mind was made up!
Presenting a cheque of $60,000 to TRF, PDG Ravi Vadlamani, from RID 3150, said this money would go into a cancer detection lab project which cost upward of ₹1 crore. “This is in memory of my mother who had cancer; when you give to TRF, the money not only goes to the charity of your choice, but it gets multiplied.” Addressing the corporate leaders present, he said that they could safely entrust their CSR funds to TRF because “your rupee or dollar gets multiplied severalfold, and we will do the project work for you with the strictest of stewardship principles and proper accounting.”
Thanking the Rotarians from RI Districts 3150 and 3020, Trustee Chair Gary said: “The money you give to TRF is serving humanity and making the world a better place. Your money makes a difference in every part of the world, because Rotarians have the enormous potential to change the world… to fight disease, conflict, tackle poverty and improve lives.”
Giving an example, he said that in Lebanon, where there was acute water scarcity and children who could not buy water, and hence fell sick, “your money went to work in water projects that were done by Rotarians in several schools. Now, 6,742 children have access to clean drinking water every day, thanks to you. Think of the joy those children feel every day to have access to clean water. This is your Foundation at work… making a difference. I would encourage you to do even more.”
This year TRF had an ambitious goal in all areas… global grants, endowment fund, etc. “We want to do even more, we want to expand our reach and for that we need more major donors. But seeing your commitment and the fact that today I am in the presence of very generous people, who have discovered the joy of giving, I am confident that we can do even more selfless acts.”
Addressing the “very powerful group of Rotarians present in the room,” Trustee Gulam Vahanvaty said thanks to the leadership of DGs Siva and Bobby, both the RI districts were doing well in TRF contributions and community projects.
Turning his attention to corporate leaders in the hall, Vahanvaty narrated his experience with an IT company called Atos in Mumbai. “Last year, the DG of RID 3142 had a friend in his own club who is a senior member of Atos. They started talking about CSR funds and he said his company would give a substantial amount.”
There was some difficulty in finalising the terms of agreement and the DG asked Vahanvaty to come to the Atos office to clarify matters. “I went thinking it would be a small office with a few employees. I was surprised to find that they had a huge office in Navi Mumbai, with 2,000 employees. They have an even bigger one in Bengaluru with 9,000.”
The company’s headquarters is in France, but because it is based in India it has CSR responsibilities. “Because this executive was a member of RC Thane Hills, he could have easily given the $250,0000 to the club but his boss said ‘No, we want to give the money to TRF.’ So TRF got that money on behalf of Atos and the club. As you can see, reputed corporates trust us on integrity and stewardship.”
Expressing a major concern to senior Rotarians, the Trustee said that during his visits to clubs and districts, “when I speak about TRF, I find lack of knowledge about the basics of TRF, even among Rotarians of five to seven years experience.” He requested all DGs to hold training sessions for Rotarians, and appealed to Sam Patibandla as an EMGA to take the lead in educating Rotarians with the help of an “excellent video presentation we have prepared.”
He was happy that for the fourth year, India held its second position in giving to TRF; $21.4 million last year, and “three of our districts — 3190, 3141 and 3011 — were among the top 10 in the world. He congratulated PDG Ramesh Vangala for his leadership in getting D 3150 to contribute $860,000. “With your money we do so much good in the world, and in India there is so much disparity and a lot of work needs to be done for the underprivileged. Yet, I am happy that we gave more than we received last year.”
“At the dialysis centre,” he added, “I saw your passion and commitment and also saw how teamwork gets the best results.”
Pictures by Rasheeda Bhagat