It was smiles of satisfaction and pride all around in RI District 3250, particularly on the faces of members of Rotary Club of Pataliputra, when RI Director Bharat Pandya expressed his utmost appreciation for this club for completing a signature project of providing six dialysis machines at two medical centres in Patna, bang in the midst of the corona pandemic. An additional three dialysis machines were put up in Muzaffarpur by RC Muzaffarpur.
Addressing the members on a zoom conference, Pandya said: “You have achieved this feat and created an addition to critical healthcare facility during this difficult health crisis and a pandemic faced by the entire world.” This led him to believe, he added, that “nothing is impossible for this club when its members set their eyes on any goal.”
The project has been done with a global grant from The Rotary Foundation worth $115,000. This iconic project of the district and these two clubs has been done through a partnership with RI District 7545, US. “We had submitted the application for the GG on March 2, and it was approved on March 31. But meanwhile the whole country, as well as the entire world was hit by the corona pandemic and everything came to a standstill,” says past president Bipin Chachan, the lead contact for the GG.
Adds his wife, and immediate past president of RC Pataliputra Shilpi Chachan, “But our club members created an opportunity out of this pandemic, as we realised that dialysis facilities will be even more critical at a time like this when so many people will be fighting for their lives. So we put in concerted efforts, completed all the paperwork in time, liasoned with others, collected funds and completed the project. After all, this was the dream project of our club wherein we had planned to donate six dialysis machines to two centres in Patna, keeping our focus on Rotary’s central motto of serving humanity.”
Thanking past presidents Navin Gupta, Bipin Chachan, and Sandeep Sarraf, and club members Samir Jhunjhunwala and Anjani Sinha, “who stood beside me whenever I needed to tick the boxes to accomplish the project,” she said, adding that their hard work and dedication were exemplary.
Shilpi said that both Patna and Muzaffarpur have deficient dialysis facilities, as a result of which the economically disadvantaged people really suffer. In private facilities, a dialysis session costs around ₹2,000 or more. She said on June 26, three dialysis units were donated at the charitable organisation Mahavir Arogya Sansthan, with the facility being jointly inaugurated by RI Director Kamal Sanghvi and IPS officer Acharya Kishore Kunal, and then DG Gopal Khemka. “All the dignitaries appreciated our effort and said we had fulfilled a critical need in the local community, as these units would contribute extensively in the coming days to the poor people requiring dialysis support at a very nominal cost.”
While past president Navin Gupta gave details about the project which would help those patients who can’t survive without regular dialysis sessions, Khemka congratulated the club and said Rotary would like further affiliation with this charitable organisation to serve more needy people. The other three dialysis units have been given to a private facility, and in both these places, Rotarians, and the extremely disadvantaged will be given dialysis free of cost. Others will have to pay a nominal fee of around ₹500.
The club has also donated to Patna Corporation, two Mukti Raths, each costing around ₹8.5 lakh, to facilitate the last journey of people and “these vehicles serve a great need in the community,” she adds.
Exemplary Covid relief work
During the Covid pandemic, as underprivileged people such as “daily wagers, rickshaw pullers, the handicapped, widows and other destitutes struggled to get food, our club undertook a project — Annapoorna — to supply cooked meals to these people,” says Shilpi. On a few days, some Rotarians accompanied her but, she admitted, “due to the threat of infection, most people were scared to go to such poor areas to distribute meals.” But she carried on, and “my 21-year-old son, who studies in Mumbai, but is at home now, insisted I should not go out alone and accompanied me.”
During the lockdown period, beginning April 7, members of the club distributed food packets in slums of Kumhrar. “It was heartbreaking to see hungry children running for food behind the vehicle. On that day we distributed 300 food packets. The next day, in another area, 550 packets — subzi puri, bread and khichdi — of food, water bottles and masks were given. It was very sad to hear from them that they were starving because they had not got help in the form of food for days together.”
From a kitchen that the club members use, the food was prepared and packed, and for several days an average of around 400 food packets were distributed. “But we soon realised that this would only give them a few meals. So we started giving out grocery provisions to the needy, including sweepers, domestic helpers, cart pullers, etc, so that they could cook their own food.”
The daily cost averaged ₹10,000 “but we did not have to use a single rupee from our club funds. The money came spontaneously once I sent out a message on social media. Club members would come forward to say today’s meals/provisions are on me, and at the end of the day the Annapoorna scheme gave us great satisfaction,” she smiles.
Nearly ₹3 lakh was spent on this project, and gradually the packets were bolstered with supply of soap, milk powder, sanitary napkins, fruit juice, and 5kg rice, 5kg wheat flour, 1 litre oil, pulses and vegetables. Along with her, club members such as Sachdanand, Bipin Chachan and police officer Kunal participated in the distribution drive. The beneficiaries included an orphanage in Patna.