Members of Rotary Club of Chandigarh, RID 3080, have reached out to railway porters during the ongoing lockdown, providing them with groceries and food. The club undertook this project after Usha Saboo, wife of PRIP Rajendra Saboo, read about the sorry plight of these porters whose income had touched a new low due to depleted train services, says Club President Surinder Paul Kaur. The members handed over dry ration bags to the porters at the Chandigarh Railway Station, and also helped to pay their children’s school fees, new uniforms and a pair of shoes. This scholarship, she added, is in addition to the ₹55 lakh spent by the club on Covid-19 relief activities.
This is the home club of PRIP Saboo; he urged club members to help those who did not possess ration or Aadhaar cards. “He pointed out that such people are not eligible for any government support and must not be left out. They required sustenance and our members contributed generously,” she said, adding that DG Jitendra Dhingra contributed 40 quintals of rice for distribution to these families.
As cafeterias and canteens were shut at the PGIMER, RC Chandigarh requested the Gurudwara Sahib on the campus to cook meals for the doctors and staff.
The members also helped 4,500 families in Bapudham, where the club runs a vocational training centre for women. Faidan, a village on the outskirts of Chandigarh, was sealed off after it was declared a hotspot. The local administration sought help from the club to provide 3,000 grocery kits. “We distributed atta, rice, dal, sugar, oil and masalas to each family,” she added. The distribution was done by the police under the supervision of a Rotary or Rotaract volunteer group in charge of different blocks of the village. Needy families in other areas were identified and ration bags were distributed. The Chandigarh Spinal Rehabilitation Centre was also provided with cooked meals for its 60 paraplegic patients.
Help for hospitals
The club swung into action on the first day of the lockdown when PRIP Saboo was requested by the State Governor and some government officials seeking Rotary’s support in procuring medical and protective equipment for medical staff at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh. PDG Kawal Bedi helped in raising funds for the equipment. Meanwhile, Surinder received information that all the cafeterias and canteens at PGIMER were shut because of curfew. The cooks and service boys could not reach the hospital to serve the doctors working there. “We approached the Gurdwara Sahib at PGIMER which was within the hospital campus and they agreed to cook the meals.” The club provided groceries and 500 meals were cooked twice a day for the doctors and staff. Dr Uttam Thakur, President of the Association of Residential Doctors, PGIMER, thanked the members.
Despite delay in transportation of masks and PPEs from Haryana and Delhi, the club managed to source locally and supply 2,300 PPEs kits and 10,000 pairs of surgical gloves to PGIMER and another 1,000 kits to the Government Multispecialty Hospital and Medical College.
Next, the club was approached by the Government Hospital at Sector 32 in Chandigarh to feed migrant labourers staying at temperory camps. The Rotarians immediately arranged medical equipment for doctors assigned to look after the migrant labourers, and provided dry rations, cooks, and manpower to distribute the food. Until May 15, over 1,000 cooked meals were delivered twice a day.
Rotaractors have been very supportive and were “at the forefront to deliver dry rations to needy families in different parts of Chandigarh. I thank Rotaractor Bhupinder Rana and his team for the wonderful work they have done,” she adds. The club’s flagship project, the Rotary Blood Bank, has been conducting blood donation camps, in association with Sankalp Foundation and RC Roopnagar, observing required norms of safe distancing and hygiene.