First woman DG of the District
She thanks her district’s Rotarians for “trusting a woman to lead them.” And her husband, PDG Ashish Desai takes pride in calling himself the ‘First Gentleman of the District’. Bina Desai, the first woman DG of RID 3054, and a Rotaractor turned Rotarian, thanks him for his “200 per cent support”.
Bina shares a list of warm memories as a Rotarian. When her son Shashwat, recuperating from a ligament tear, had been to Switzerland on a Rotary programme, she was anxious. But “Rotary was there for him and made him feel at home in a foreign land. Rotarians were the first to reach out to the Gujarat earthquake victims and who can forget the intense polio eradication efforts of Rotary. The list is endless. The pin that we wear makes us stand apart,” she says.
Bina is focusing on the Avoidable Blindness project in 1,500 villages in the district. “We have included the ‘one spoon less’ campaign that was recently suggested by RID Bharat Pandya to address increase in non-communicable diseases.” She aims to increase Rotarians’ connections with each other through a special app and a special team is in place to acknowledge their ‘Induction Day’ into Rotary, “just like how we greet them on their birthdays”. ‘Rotary Yellow pages’ is another initiative that enhances connectivity among members.
She plans to increase membership by 10 per cent, but “my focus is on retention. We may get members, but it will mean nothing if we cannot sustain their interest in Rotary,” she says.
On TRF contribution, her target is $5 million. “But it is a big task. Rotarians here believe in doing big projects themselves and I have to work on their mindset to contribute to TRF.”
Bina’s son, Shashwat is a PDRR and a former president of the RSAMDIO, and daughter is member of RAC Kankaria-Ahmedabad.
Together we can do more
For a man who “accidentally” got into Rotary in 2005, Manimaran’s love for the organisation has grown over the years to the extent that his “life revolves around Rotary now.” He recalls an occasion where an NRI friend, an Endowment donor of his club, helped a member’s daughter who got stranded in Egypt. She had lost her wallet while visiting the country. “He is based in Dubai but reached the money to her in just two hours. The network of Rotary never stops amazing me,” he says.
The collective work and team spirit are other aspects that Manimaran respects about Rotary. “When a child requires sponsorship for education, as an individual you have your limitations. But when we pool in funds from Rotary, we can do so much,” he says.
Desilting tanks is his priority and over 100 tanks have been revived so far in the district. The DG is allocating ₹50,000 for his clubs from the DDF exclusively for upgrading school infrastructure. Conducting health camps in rural segments is also on his agenda.
He hopes to contribute $1 million for TRF. On membership, his goal is to introduce 600 new members and 100 women Rotarians.
Encouraging women in Rotary
He is a Rotarian since 2001 and has inspired more members from his family to join Rotary. Sivanarayana Rao’s wife Annapurna is a member of his club, daughter Ritcha is member of RC Aadarsh and son Tansen, a past DRR, belongs to RC Hyderabad. “He is my general secretary too,” says the proud father.
Rao’s focus is to educate farmers about essential aspects such as government subsidies, improved and modern agricultural techniques through seminars. He has urged his clubs to design projects aimed at women’s empowerment and induct more women Rotarians. “If we want sustainability in our projects, we need more women. They will see to it that the service projects continue,” he says. He plans to introduce at least 300 women Rotarians.
On membership, he is confident of increasing the strength by 1,000 members. He plans to raise $1 million for TRF.
With the WinS programme being vibrant in the district, the DG says that along with the incoming governors, he aims to improve 1,000 government schools over three years.
His most cherished moment in Rotary was when an old woman blessed him wholeheartedly after regaining her eyesight past a cataract surgery during a camp conducted by his club a few years ago.
He is excited about the varied service projects that his clubs have lined up for the community. “I like the enthusiasm in my Rotarians. Most of our projects centre around school education and sanitation,” says Gopal Khemka. He has inspired all the 102 clubs to install handwash stations in at least two government schools and create at least 100 Happy Schools in the district. He is encouraging inter-club projects worth ₹1 crore, apart from DDF or global grant support. Thirty clubs have together executed ₹60 lakh worth service projects so far, he smiles.
Khemka is encouraging women Rotarians to get involved in club activities in a big way and urging clubs to induct more women members. His daughter-in-law, an oncosurgeon, is also a member of his club. His aim is to increase district membership by 10 per cent and he has announced awards for clubs retaining up to 90 per cent of members.
He is a Rotarian since 1994 and was inspired by his business contacts. Friendship and opportunity to do service on a large scale are what he loves the most about Rotary. His most cherished moment was when he visited a school for the visually-challenged that was being supported by his club and “learnt that all the students who had passed out were well-placed and doing well in their lives.”
Improving villages is his priority
He is a Rotarian since 2004. “I tried to join Rotary in 1997 but due to some classification issues it got delayed,” says Rajendra Bhamre. He is keen on inducting youngsters below 40 as members and is also urging spouses of Rotarians to take active part in executing service projects.
Most of the regions in the district are in rural belt and severely drought-hit. So he is focusing on watershed management and village adoption projects.
He aims to increase the membership strength by 10 per cent and ensure 100 per cent registration of members in Rotary Central. He wants each club to charter a Rotaract club, adopt one or two villages and install RCCs there.
The DG is unhappy that the district has not performed well in TRF contribution in the last few years, though the target set at the Disha meet is $400,000 this year for the district. “I have been impressing upon every Rotarian to contribute whatever they can for the Foundation during my OCVs,” he says.