RC Alleppey turns 70

Autistic children being trained at the Rotary Alfa Learning Development Centre set up by the club.
Autistic children being trained at the Rotary Alfa Learning Development Centre set up by the club.

Rotary Club of Alleppey, RID 3211, has been providing relief material to frontline staff and public in its community to help combat the Covid-19 pandemic. It installed a handwash station at the KSRTC bus stand for the benefit of commuters and is regularly equipping the District Hospital with consignments of sanitisers and face masks. “Now
that schools are closed, we have installed a smart TV at a community centre in a fishermen’s colony to help children attend online classes,” says Club President K Cherian.

The club has completed 70, having been chartered in July 1949 with 21 members. Tracing its history, Tomi Eapen, a club member of 25 years, recalls that a Jewish industrialist PDG S Koder from Kochi visited Alleppey and met some prominent citizens such as A R Sulaiman Sait, the Municipal Chairman, K C ­Karunakaran, founder of the Alleppey Company manufacturing coir and Carnatic musician Parthasarathy Iyengar. Koder impressed upon them to form the first Rotary club in Alleppey and the charter was presented by the then DG Col Wignaraj from Colombo, to the charter president Sulaiman Sait.

In those days it was RID 56 comprising Kerala, Sri Lanka and parts of Tamil Nadu. “A week after the charter presentation, the first bulletin was brought out as a typewritten sheet of paper; the club has so far published 3,700 bulletins, even winning the Best Bulletin award in 1980 from RC Moradabad, which had organised
the contest.”

An LN-4 arm fitment camp in progress. PDG E K Luke (fourth from L) is seen watching a beneficiary.
An LN-4 arm fitment camp in progress. PDG E K Luke (fourth from L) is seen watching a beneficiary.

The club marked its silver jubilee with the construction of a community centre in 1974, named after PDG Revi ­Karunakaran, son of charter member Karunakaran. “PDG Revi became a Rotarian when he was 20 and at 24, was probably the youngest club president,” says Eapen, adding that he contributed generously to TRF as a benefactor.  His wife Betty Karan is the first AKS member from the district and an active participant at all RI events. “She contributed liberally during the 2017 floods and Covid relief activities,” he says. The club has been addressed by luminaries such as C Rajagopalachari, former Presidents of India V V Giri and Neelam ­Sanjiva Reddy and educationist T M A Pai.

“One of our most significant service projects was executed in 1967 when Dr M C Modi, a pioneer in eye surgery and a Padmashri awardee, performed 512 cataract surgeries,” says Eapen. Other noteworthy projects included adoption of a fishermen’s colony, and construction of a blood bank at the Women and Children Hospital in 1980 to commemorate Rotary’s 75th anniversary.

 A TV set being given to a library in a fishermen’s colony to help children follow online classes.
A TV set being given to a library in a fishermen’s colony to help children follow online classes.

Vijayalakshmi Nair, the club’s first and only woman president, recalls dedicating an ambulance to the community through a matching grant. The club has only three woman members now. With her husband Gopinathan Nair leading the club in 2011, “we made Alleppey Municipality cataract-free by conducting eye camps and surgeries in all 32 wards of the town,” she adds.

The more recent service activities include constructing houses in Kayalpuram village for people who lost their homes during the 2017 floods, besides providing rehabilitation support to the 1,500 families living there; an LN-4 arm fitment camp that ­benefitted 1,000 people; and distribution of soil-less grow bags for organic vegetable cultivation to the city residents. “To commemorate this landmark year we have set up a learning-cum-physiotherapy centre for autistic children in our community centre and contributed ₹6 lakh to TRF this year,” says Cherian.

The 75-member-strong club is energised to execute more humanitarian projects in the coming years.

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