Literacy was my priority for the year 2014–15, during my tenure as District Governor, because we wanted to support Rotary’s Literacy Mission,” said IPDG Satpal Gulati, D 3120.
As a result, all the 69 clubs of the District focused on promoting literacy in their region and their activities revolved around improving infrastructure in schools to enroll more children in schools. Construction of toilet blocks in schools took precedence to put a check on adolescent girls dropping out of schools. “I wanted each club to build 3 to 4 toilets. In Allahabad alone 50 toilets were built in schools,” he said. By the yearend, he says, 275 toilets were constructed in schools at a cost of $80,000, of which $20,000 came from the District Designated Funds. Gulati himself sponsored $30,000 through his corporate group and the balance was borne by the Rotarians.
Each club adopted a village and special attention was given to the children regularly attending schools. The Rotarians provided 5,000 pieces of classroom furniture to the village schools to enhance the learning experience for the students. To help students commute to school comfortably, the Rotarians gifted them with bicycles. Vindhya, a Class 9 student from Mirzapur, is very excited with her new bicycle. “I used to walk at least 8 km everyday to school and back. By the time I reached school/home, I was very tired. I thank Rotary for this wonderful gift,” she smiles.
Several literacy awareness programmes were conducted particularly in the semi-urban and rural belts. Approximately 95,000 books were given to different school libraries to promote the reading habit among students.
The clubs also extended relief to the victims of natural disasters in Jammu & Kashmir and Nepal. Gulati said that the J&K Rahat Kosh was set up through which the District collected Rs 4 lakh which was sent to PRID Shekhar Mehta for relief and rehabilitation of the flood victims. They also contributed Rs 12 lakh along with shelter kits, clothing and food for the victims of Nepal earthquake.