Serving the rural poor is his priority
As a doctor he knows the benefits of the preventive aspects of healthcare. So one of this DG’s priorities is “water and sanitation. My priority will be to put up at least 200 to 300 group handwashing stations in schools during my year, and also work on menstrual hygiene for adolescent girls”.
A doctor by profession, actually a dermatologist and an HIV specialist, V B Dixit joined Rotary in 1995. “I was working in a government hospital and one day one of my seniors came up to me and said: “You must join Rotary, because that is the place you will be able to meet so many top professionals, businessmen etc. It will give you the opportunity to help many people and serve society in a much better and bigger way than you can do now.”
Dixit’s district 3090 has 76 clubs with 2001 members. Apart from promoting health and hygiene, his other two priorities will be increasing membership, with the focus being on women. At present women’s membership in his district is only 13 per cent and the DG wants to improve this figure. He also wants to convert all the Rotaractors in his district into Rotarians.
On the Foundation giving front, he says, “Last year was not a good year for our district in TRF giving, but otherwise we normally raise about $70,000 to 80,000. This year my goal is to take up this figure to $100,000.”
On what Rotary has given him, he responds in a flash: “Oh, Rotary has given me lots and lots of satisfaction. Our district is a rural district, and even though earlier I had worked as a medical officer in rural areas, Rotary has given me a platform to reach out to a much larger number of people in rural areas. Reaching the maximum benefits to the rural people through Rotary is my priority.”
He wants to balance “fun and fellowship with service”
During his year as governor, this DG wants to focus on community service through global grants. “My main aim in joining Rotary, which I did in 1987, was to do something for society and now that I have got an opportunity, I want to reach the unreached in our community and also work towards giving them financial literacy,” says Ravi Kulkarni.
Heading a district with 128 clubs and 5,500-odd Rotarians, he is anguished at the “present status of Rotary. These days we are having less of Rotary and more of fun. The sound training that we had in Rotary once upon a time is getting slightly diluted. I’d like to restore it.”
It’s a lofty objective alright, but how will he do it?
“By adopting certain strict procedures such as giving Rotarians the right kind of Rotary information at the start of every meeting; telling the members to balance the fun and fellowship with service activities,” he responds.
On TRF giving, he says that his district has had a good record on this front. “Last year we raised $816,000 to our Foundation, and had one AKS member. My aim is to raise that figure to $1 million.”
On membership front, Kulkarni’s focus is to get more women members. “We have three all women’s clubs and about eight per cent of our members are women. I want to increase that number,” he adds.
Building stronger clubs
He wants to promote better engagement of Rotarians as he feels that “members leave Rotary only when there is nothing interesting for them in it. It is our job to make Rotary fun for them.” Ramesh Vangala wants all members to do at least one activity. “It could even be an invitation for lunch, tea or dinner at their homes,” he says. The district covers a vast area comprising Hyderabad-Secunderabad, Telengana and Andhra Pradesh and so he encourages clubs to do joint projects that will help forge better relationships.
He has identified seven designated dates to concentrate on the six areas of focus and one environmental programme for the entire district. It includes providing water bottles and soaps to promote hygiene and sanitation among schoolchildren; distribution of sewing machines to women; health camps for women and children and a multi-district peace conference to be held in Hyderabad. “We have donated 5,000 benches and desks to government schools and installed AEDs in 170 ambulances,” he says.
Vangala is a Rotarian since 2001, following in the footsteps of his father who was a member of RC Warangal for 50 years. He cherishes his visit to Finland in 2013 as a GSE Team Leader. “The host club president invited us to stay in his cottage in the woods. It was winter and we had to stay indoors in the evenings. We communicated through translations done on the I-pad, as we didn’t know Finnish and he didn’t speak English. We spent three days like this.”
He plans to increase the district membership by 600 members, including 100 women Rotarians and add eight new clubs. His idea to rope in parents of Rotaractors to Rotary has been well received in his team. “A lot of Rotaract clubs are non-functional in our district. Only 44 of them are active,” he laments, adding that he will increase the number to 100 by the year end. For this, Vangala plans to coordinate with the DRCC and the DRR whenever a Rotaract club is being installed by a Rotary club.
His aim is to raise $750,000 for the Foundation. “It is achievable as we had a contribution of $69,000 from a past governor who is on his way to becoming an AKS member and the first month’s collection was $200,000,” he smiles.
From a Leo to a Rotarian
He was a Leo during his college days and then a Lion. He joined Rotary in 1999 after his friend compelled him to attend a Rotary meeting. “I simply loved the fellowship of Rotary. Four of us joined the same club at that time,” says Rohinath, who transformed into a “service-minded Rotarian after taking over as club president in 2008.” He recalls his childhood when he had to walk to school 8 km away from a remote village where he was brought up. “I have seen poverty and hardship at close quarters. That motivated me to be a part of such a service organisation.”
He is all praise for RI Director C Basker for organising numerous training seminars and says these have helped the district leaders and club officers to operate effectively.
Rohinath plans to upgrade the 7,600 anganwadis in his district, having seen their pathetic state when he had organised medical camps for children during his presidential year. “Many of them lack basic amenities such as clean drinking water and electricity, and have bad flooring and leaking roofs. So the clubs will each adopt five anganwadis and focus on their refurbishment,” he says.
His aim for membership growth is to increase it by 10 per cent and for TRF, he wants to raise $300,000, although the last two years the contribution from the district was not satisfactory.
He and his team are engaged in mobilising relief material for the flood victims of Kerala and coastal Karnataka who have been devastated by torrential rain.
A grassroots polio worker
Rotary is life for me. It has given me everything and taught me what life is,” says Mukul Sinha. A Rotarian since 1993, Sinha remembers the years when he used to campaign door-to-door for polio immunisation. “Immunising children with polio drops in Murshidabad when six polio cases were detected in 2010 gave me so much satisfaction.”
He is proud of Rotary’s two eye hospital and one multi-specialty hospital in Purulia which serves the tribal community living in the Maoist-afflicted Jangal Mahal region.
Sinha has urged his clubs to undertake projects such as cervical cancer screening and vaccination, providing safe drinking water facilities, skill development programmes for women and planting saplings. Presently he is mobilising relief material for the flood victims of Kerala. “All the clubs in my district are contributing money and relief material and we are sending it to the governors of the region,” he says.
His aim for membership growth is to increase the number to 4,000 and he is keen to merge weaker clubs. Retention is a huge challenge, he observes, adding that he has a committee in place to address this issue.
As for TRF contribution, he has a goal to raise $500,000, for which he has requested all members to contribute generously. His focus is on ‘non-contributing clubs’ and he wants to “make the district a 100 percent contributing district.”
Sinha is all praise for his wife Rakhi, who provides him all support in Rotary activities, although she is not a Rotarian.