Getting every Rotarian to contribute
He is busy coordinating with the district team for relief and rehabilitation of those affected in the Kerala floods. “I am very happy to be in Rotary during times like this. It is a blessing to be of help to people who have suffered so much and lost everything in the floods,” says E K Luke.
A Rotarian from 1984, “I was then under the impression that Rotary is for the elite. But gradually I understood the huge work Rotarians do and I too got involved.” His memorable moment in Rotary is when he organised the PETS in Malaysia, the district’s first ever overseas programme.
Rotary has changed over the years, he says. Earlier the focus was only on club service. “Only now we emphasise on membership, as service can be done only through members. Now the district membership is around 4,400, and we will increase it to 5,000 by the year-end.” The district now has 267 women Rotarians. Luke is actively promoting spouse membership and wants to install five new clubs, four of which will be in Kaduturuthy, Mundakeyam, Kumarakom and Kuttanad where Rotary is still unrepresented.
He is keen on getting 100 per cent contribution to TRF from members. “I am insisting that every member give at least $10. Last year only 17 per cent members contributed.” But for now, TRF and membership have taken a backseat as the entire district is engaged in flood relief and rehabilitation activities.
He is passionate about the district project, Snehaveedu, which aims to construct 300 new houses and complete the building of 700 incomplete houses across the district. “Clubs are identifying the beneficiaries for this programme. The construction cost ranges from `30,000 to 3.5 lakh. We have completed 118 houses so far.” “My focus at the beginning of the year was annadhanam — providing food for the hungry. Then I realised that shelter makes a lasting impact on people’s lives. So I shifted focus, but with the floods, all my dreams — roti, kapda aur makan — are being realised.”
The Millionaire Governor
Just a million’ is his tagline, and his plans include a million trees, a million litres of safe drinking water, a million meals for the needy, a million smiles, a million ounces of blood and a million dollars for The Rotary Foundation. Pathy has his blueprint ready for his team. “That way the clubs can start a project right away. I did this homework a year ago.”
He has soaked up Rotary from a very young age as his father Ramasubramanian is a member of RC Ootacamund. His mother Vimala Mani is a past president of the Inner Wheel Club of Ootacamund. A Rotarian since 2000, he has “fond memories as an Annet, and as a Rotaractor I was in charge of organising district events.”
He was a fun-loving Rotarian, and more into next-gen activities such as organising fun programmes, DJing and track events, till a young couple from a rural neighbourhood approached him for treating their child’s heart ailment, after learning about the club’s Heart2Heart project. He had mentioned it in passing in a radio programme his club had hosted. “I was so overwhelmed that I took the initiative to have the child treated at the GKNM Hospital. The doctors said that she was critical and may not survive beyond a week. I approached friends, relatives and pooled in `60,000. The doctors too did their bit and by God’s grace, Jennifer was cured. Today she is 19, hale and healthy.” This incident transformed him into a hardcore Rotarian.
Pathy is hoping to woo Rotaractors into Rotary through membership in what he calls ‘Space Clubs’. “These clubs will be a bridge for Rotaractors until they find their feet and are able to afford the demands of being a Rotarian. The aim is to make the transition easy when they eventually join Rotary.”
On membership, he will add new clubs only if the strength is more than 25 and every one of them are green Rotarians. “Three new clubs have been installed and they are successful because the members have original ideas and there is no beaten path. Secondly, everybody is an equal there.”
His other passion is to build two special parks — in Coimbatore and Cochin — for differently-abled children.
Pathy’s wife Veena is the Chairman of Inner Wheel District 320.
Enhancing membership is his focus
He was the charter president of his club and is keen on increasing the district membership by 10 per cent from the present 5,000 Rotarians. Ummer is confident of raising $500,000 for TRF. He is happy that the Rotarians of his district rose up to the occasion during the Kerala floods and raised around `3 crore-worth relief material for the affected people. Most of the places in the district were also affected by the floods.
He is the chairman of a school for the hearing and speech-impaired in Nilambur and is keen on establishing an early detection centre so that deformities may be corrected at an early age. “As a doctor, I always feel that people should take care of their health and take necessary precautions. Children are vulnerable and they should be
given utmost care and prompt treatment,” he says.
Ummer is the State President of the Indian Medical Association. His spouse Kamarunnisa is a Major Donor and a member of the same club.
Healthcare is his priority
A Rotaractor-turned-Rotarian since 1993, Vinay Bhatia cherishes the “amazing RYLA” he participated in Dalhousie as a Rotaractor. He also treasures a visit to Brazil on a Friendship Exchange programme. “The warmth and love the host Rotarians showered really awed me and after that I have been part of four such exchange programmes. Each one was an incredible experience,” he says.
He has always been enthusiastic about organising medical camps. “It is a fulfilling experience to be able to help people who suffer silently with various ailments, yet do not have the means to get proper treatment.” He is excited to be signing an MoU with the GoI and the Orthopaedic Association of India for setting up a national-level helpline to address clubfoot deformity. This will help people identify orthopaedists in their locality who will treat clubfoot deformity in children.
His plans for the district include construction of check dams, a dialysis centre and adding two mammography vans with the help of global grants.
Bhatia wants to increase his membership by 15 per cent and add one more all-women’s Rotary club to the existing two in the district. “Women Rotarians are very enterprising here. We have ten women presidents,” he says.
He is confident of raising a substantial contribution for TRF. The Million Dollar Dinner, organised recently with TRF Trustee Gulam Guhanvaty, was a huge hit, he says. “It got us a commitment of $2.5 million.”
He wants to strengthen clubs
He too hails from a family of Rotarians; his father is the charter president of RC Ranipet; his mother is the past chairman of Inner Wheel District 323; spouse Sujatha, past president of the Rotary E-club; children, brother and his extended family are also Rotarians; while his sister is an Inner Wheel member.
Chandrabob became a Rotarian in 1989, after being an Interactor and Rotaractor.
He is focused on strengthening the clubs of his two-year-old district which was bifurcated from D 3230. “The district spreads across Vellore, Kanchipuram, Tiruvannamalai and Tiruvallur. We are in the nascent stage and I want to sustain the interest in the Rotarians. So I am involving all the clubs in some major activity,” he says. All the clubs are adopting a village each and concentrating their activities in a wholesome development of the village.
A hardcore Rotarian, Chandrabob is motivating families of Rotarians too to become members. “My theme is — Enjoy Rotary with family. I am involving the Anns and Annets in various activities. I have experienced first-hand what it is to be in a family of Rotarians.”
On membership, he is aiming at a 20 per cent growth and wants to increase women membership too. “My wife Sujatha is helping me by involving women Rotarians in various projects. We have conceived a programme called ‘Magalir Mattum’, exclusive for women Rotarians, which includes fun events and service projects.” To further induce membership, he has waived district dues for women joining Rotary this year.
His plans include installing 100 new Rotaract and Interact clubs and RCCs, creating as many Happy Villages and installing 100 low-cost shelters in the district.
To enhance Rotary’s public image, he is planning to create Guinness Records with the help of clubs focusing on aspects such as child safety, road safety and literacy. The district has got five global grants sanctioned for the year. He is excited about signing an MoU with the State health department and German Rotary to check infant/maternal mortality. “We will be equipping the PHCs with life-saving devices and training village anganwadi nurses in mother and child care,” he remarks.
His goal for TRF is $1 million which he is confident of achieving.