Keep giving to TRF for a better world

Never stop giving to The Rotary Foundation as “we are the number one humanitarian NGO in the world making a big difference to communities. For 15th year in a row, we’ve got four out of four-star rating from Charity Navigator (US), as we have kept our administrative cost to the bare minimum, much below other global NGOs, while creating impact with our service projects across the world,” said TRF trustee chair Barry Rassin.

TRF Trustee Chair Barry Rassin being felicitated in Bengaluru. From L: PDG Suresh Hari, Event Chair Ravishankar Dakoju, TRF Trustee Vice Chair Bharat Pandya, DG Udaykumar Bhaskara (RID 3191), DRFC Suresh Ambli (3192), DG Srinivas Murthy (3192) and RIDN K P Nagesh.

Speaking at a meeting in Bengaluru hosted by RIDs 3191 and 3192, he said ending polio still remained the top priority of Rotary and now the “wild poliovirus is found only in Pakistan and Afghanistan, especially at their porous border.” The health minister of Pakistan and their Army generals are fully backing Rotary’s final push to eliminate polio from the world. “A huge number Pakistani troops are guarding our Rotary offices and last year alone 900,000 children were immunised in this region. While 12 children were afflicted with the virus in the two countries last year, so far no fresh cases of polio have been reported in 2024,” he said. “But we can shift focus to the next priority only after the world is certified free from the polio virus.”

Talking about TRF’s Programs of Scale (PoS), he said, “We initiated it in Zambia three years ago with a funding of $6 million (RI, Gates Foundation and World Vision contributed $2 million each) which has reduced malaria in the African country by 90 per cent.” Following the success in Zambia, the Gates Foundation and World Vision were ready to give $10 million to expand the programme to four more countries in Africa. In Nigeria, PoS is helping fight infant and maternal mortality, and cervical cancer in Egypt.

 For RI year 2023–24, TRF has a set a target of $500 million in total donations, including $150 million for the Annual Fund. “All the clubs must donate to Annual Fund, as half of it will come back to their district for service projects. Thus, you can leverage a part of your donation,” said Rassin. For polio eradication, TRF’s $50 million will be matched by $150 million by the Gates Foundation, taking the total to $200 million. TRF is hopeful of netting $60 million in cash and $80 million in other commitments under Endowment Funds, “a part of which you will get back for your projects.”

During Covid times, TRF had approved 2,066 global grant projects worth $39 million for pandemic-related projects from clubs across the world. “In the last five years, TRF has touched six million lives, hence we have to keep doing what we are doing, so that Rotary can reach maximum people, and change their lives for the better,” he explained. When he visited a rural school in Malawi, East Africa, which was transformed with new toilet blocks, handpump, a drinking water unit and other sanitation and classroom facilities, “an 11-year-old boy saw the Rotary pin on me, and said Thank You with a broad smile. For he was told, that those wearing this pin are from Rotary who help to change our lives.” Earlier, before Rotary stepped in with the project, the school with 4,000 students and 38 teachers had no tables, benches, blackboards… nothing that is essential for a school.

Taiwan’s fire department got a new ambulance with Rotary funding, and since 2022 the vehicle has carried 7,000 patients to and from hospitals, “doubling the survival rate of heart patients they picked up, thanks to GG projects which supplied the ambulance with gadgets, and hospital equipment.”

Impressed with the multifarious work being done by Indian Rotarians, Rassin said, “you are making a difference to the world,” and urged them to keep giving to the Foundation in the years to come.

RI Districts 3191 and 3192 present cheques to TRF Trustee Chair Rassin. From L: RID 3191 secretary Ramesh Kumar, PDG Hari, DG Murthy, DRFC Ambli, TRF Trustee Vice-Chair Pandya, DG Bhaskara, RIDN Nagesh, DRFC Anil Gupta (3191), TRF – Principal Gifts director Harvey Newcomb III, PDGs Manjunath Shetty and H R Ananth.

In his address, TRF trustee vice-chair Bharat Pandya said ‘hope’ and ‘opportunity’ are the two words to describe the work of the Foundation, “which is a window to the outside world. About 50–60km from Mumbai, the financial capital of India, you will see pregnant women suffer due to non-availability of antenatal care; at other places in the country, issues like water scarcity, the anxiety of parents with blue babies, people who are either illiterate, sick or don’t have one square meal a day need help and TRF projects transform such lives.”

But without the generous support of Rotarians, TRF can’t grow and “those at the grassroots level must network and start giving, for we all know where our funds go and the change it brings to the world.”

Pandya urged RIDs 3191 and 3192 to attract CSR funds for TRF projects as it is mandatory for companies in India to plough back two per cent of their profits into CSR programmes. “Draft good, attractive projects and approach corporates, so that from the present $2 million each, both RID 3191 and 3192 should aim for $5 million worth of CSR projects routed through the Foundation,” he said.

Recalling his work as part of a medical mission to Zimbabwe in 2020, where he did seven surgeries, Pandya said, a 10-year-old boy’s stomach was pierced by a sharp object and his intestines were badly damaged. Living in a village at Mutare, a five-hour drive from Harare, “he was brought to the mission camp in septic shock and was slowly dying. We operated on him and I was not sure if he will survive or not. But after a couple of days, his fever was gone, he became conscious and his pulse was normal. His mother took my hand, and profusely expressed her gratitude for saving her son.” Hence, what is given to TRF is not just a donation, “but an investment for the future and the Foundation is a vehicle of choice to ensure a better future for all,” he added.

The event was held to celebrate the magnanimity of TRF donors and expand Rotary’s connect with the corporate world, said Ravishankar Dakoju, event chair and the ₹100 crore donor to TRF. “Rotary is a bridge that links the haves and have-nots. We need to involve the corporates for taking up big TRF projects,” he said.

RI director-nominee K P Nagesh said the US leads with over 500 AKS members, followed by India (200-plus), Korea and Taiwan, in that order. “We need more million-dollar (₹8 crore) donors like Ravishankar, and we have a target to identify at least 100 such donors in the next two years,” said Nagesh who was installed as the new president of the AKS Association of India (AAI) by Rassin. This post was held by Ravishankar for three years. He was reappointed as AAI ambassador. Since 2019, as an AKS celebrity he had helped induct 75 AKS members.

Newly-inducted AKS members Milind Deshpande and Velupathy (3192), and RIDN Nagesh (3191); 32 Major Donors; 42 End Polio Fellows; and 40 companies — Inflow Technologies (₹1.5 crore), Indic Electronics (₹40 lakh), Intel (₹40 lakh), Vishal Infrastructure (₹35 lakh), Titan Industries (₹32 lakh), KWK Resistors (₹28 lakh) etc — were honoured by Rassin. DGs Udaykumar Bhaskara (3191) and V Srinivas Murthy (3192) were felicitated.

DRFCs Anil Gupta (3191), Suresh Ambli (3192) and PDG Suresh Hari spoke. Two cheques totalling $2.4 million as contribution from both the districts to TRF were presented to the trustee chair. Around 200 delegates from in and around Bengaluru attended the TRF meet. Before coming to Bengaluru, Rassin visited Kathmandu, Kolkata, Delhi and Pune, covering 13 RI districts in five days.


Pictures by V Muthukumaran

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