Raising the bar at 60

DG Dr A Karthikeyan, RC Mettupalayam President Dr D Vijayagiri, Project Heal Trust COO Suresh Ananthakrishnan, along with club members and members of RC Erode Cosmos led by President Gayathri Balaji, after procuring the vehicle for setting up the mammogram unit.
DG Dr A Karthikeyan, RC Mettupalayam President Dr D Vijayagiri, Project Heal Trust COO Suresh Ananthakrishnan, along with club members and members of RC Erode Cosmos led by President Gayathri Balaji, after procuring the vehicle for setting up the mammogram unit.

As RC Mettupalayam, RID 3202, turns 60, the club members are all charged up to do more good for the community. “For starters, we have executed three global grants during the year — the first was a CSR-funded GG to procure a mobile mammogram unit, the second was to upgrade a government hospital and the third, a Disaster Response Grant,” says Club President Dr D Vijayagiri, who is an accomplished paediatric surgeon. He was part of the VTT medical mission that served in Nigeria in January this year. “It was a unique experience. In the paediatric department, more than 1,000 children were examined, and over 50 surgeries were performed. There is no free healthcare in ­Nigeria. People without the means to pay therefore defer surgeries for as long as possible. As a result, we treated many advanced cases that we normally would not see in India,” he says, adding, “it also showed me first-hand the value of contributing to the Foundation. The GG would not have been possible if not for Rotarians contributing to TRF in a big way.”

The speed with which the club was able to move as a team, and the ability to build partnerships with other organisations enabled its success this year.

Dr D Vijayagiri, President, RC Mettupalayam

The advanced digital mammography equipment is currently being imported, and vehicle fabrication is in progress. The project will be launched in June to screen rural and underprivileged women across the district for breast cancer. Project Heal, as it is called, operates on a ‘regional partner model’, the first being RC Erode Cosmos which will cover the Erode region, says Suresh Ananthakrishnan, COO – Project Heal Trust. The total project cost was $264,000. Encee Aromatics, a specialty chemicals and floral essences manufacturer, contributed $33,800 from its CSR funds, DG A Karthikeyan supported it with $20,000 from the DDF, and $15,000 of his personal funds. Twenty-five club members pooled in $71,000. RC Juarez Campestre in Mexico signed up as the international partner.

Food being distributed to people during the lockdown.
Food being distributed to people during the lockdown.

The club has partnered with the Kovai Medical Centre and Hospital, Coimbatore, to provide free surgery for patients with suspicious breast lesions. It also plans to provide free screening for cervical cancer.

 

Project CARE

With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the club switched gears almost instantaneously to help the community by putting together a global grant project of $44,000 to procure 15 beds, 15 multi-para monitors, 2 ECG machines, and a Digital X-Ray machine for a government hospital in Mettupalayam. “The hospital treats 40,000 patients every month, of which 60 per cent are from BPL families and 10 per cent are tribals from the ­Niligiri hills,” says ­Ananthakrishnan. The entire grant (Project CARE — Covid-19 And Recuperative Equipment)
was approved within a week, and the additional capacity at the hospital will start functioning  in mid-June, he adds.

About 650 kits, each consisting of a reusable face shield, goggles and KN-95 mask, were designed using the Disaster Response Grant funds, and distributed to hospitals and dental clinics, including government facilities and private practitioners.

Club President Dr D Vijayagiri with a child patient and his caretaker at the VTT Mission in Nigeria.
Club President Dr D Vijayagiri with a child patient and his caretaker at the VTT Mission in Nigeria.

More than the impact of each of these individual projects, it was the speed with which the club was able to move as a team, and the ability to build partnerships with other organisations that enabled it to succeed this year, says Vijayagiri. “For instance, considering that breast cancer is a sensitive topic, the Inner Wheel Club of Mettupalayam was co-opted to do community assessments for Project Heal.” The club has signed MoUs with other NGOs to conduct screening camps. More than 20 Rotary clubs have contributed to the club’s global grants, and the club has reciprocated the support as well.

 

Other proud moments

The club has raised $132,000 for TRF this year and its pride in brick and mortar includes the METRo (Mettupalayam Rotary) Higher Secondary School with more than 2,000 students, a gas crematorium and a school for autistic children. The club’s quarterly LN-4 hand fitment camp executed since 2019 draws a huge crowd and the tall clock tower with a Rotary Wheel at the bus stand takes care of its public image.

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