RCCs on a service spree in Bengaluru

Members of RCC Bangalore Vidyaranyapura, along with its president Mohammed Sikander, planting a sapling.
Members of RCC Bangalore Vidyaranyapura, along with its president Mohammed Sikander, planting a sapling.

Here is an RCC whose community service is as meaningful as that of a Rotary club. RCC ­Bangalore ­Vidyaranyapura (RCCV), sponsored by RC Bangalore ­Vidyaranyapura, RID 3190, was formed during the early days of the Covid-19 second wave when a team of 15 service-minded people came together for an oxygen supply and installation project to meet the huge demand for oxygen. They worked relentlessly for two months providing oxygen supplies to 80 patients, and supported Asha workers with N-95 masks and oximeters. “We visited homes of Covid patients to fix oxygen cylinders and give masks. Most of us tested positive eventually, but touch wood, all of us survived,” says RCCV president Mohammed Sikander. The team was lauded for its Covid relief work by the WHO with an appreciation letter and an invitation to the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, for the World Health Day (April 7, 2022).

We create awareness among people about generic medicines which are just one-fifth the cost of branded ones and are equally effective.

Mohammed Sikander
president, RCC Vidyaranyapura

The RCC was formed with 15 members, including eight women, in May 2021 at the instance of Philips John, IPP of the parent club and B Srinivasa Babu, a Rotarian, who heads the WHO steering committee in Delhi. This RCC is so passionate about community service that “it poses a competition for Rotary clubs,” says Paul Mundackal, the district RCC chairman.

 

Projects

The RCC is presently focusing on welfare programmes for the Halakki tribe in a village near the Kaiga nuclear power plant on the west coast of ­Karnataka. “The 300,000-strong tribe continues to follow its own unique language, traditions and lifestyle. But the tribals need administrative and health-related assistance. WHO will be funding our projects here,” says Sikander.

The team has been organising health check-up camps regularly in and around Vidyaranyapura. Awareness campaigns on menstrual hygiene and associated waste disposal, and distribution of reusable sanitary napkins among underprivileged women and adolescent girls form part of the health camps. “More importantly we create awareness among people about generic medicines which are just one-fifth the cost of branded ones and are equally effective. People on regular medications for BP, diabetes, etc, are able to save a lot now,” he says.

RCCV member Clifford with children at a fishing village near Chennai.
RCCV member Clifford with children at a fishing village near Chennai.

Through the ‘Punarbhava’ campaign the team, in association with the Dr Rajkumar Eye Bank, Narayana Nethralaya, Ramaiah Medical College and the ESI Medical College, promotes eye and body donations for medical research. “Our campaigns have helped Narayana Nethralaya with 300 eye donors.”

The ‘Apathbandhava’ programme includes a Rotary helpline and an ambulance equipped with a defibrillator. The members have undergone paramedical training to handle health emergencies and the local doctors extend help in times of need. The RCC’s ‘Marpu’ programme provides motivational workshops for the transgender community.

 

Sikander was a member of RC Hyderabad East (RID 3150) for eight years until 2008 when he shifted to Bengaluru. The RCC members are neighbours in Vidyaranyapura, a ­residential-commercial colony in North-west Bengaluru. “When I came here, most of them did not know much about Rotary. I shared with them Rotary projects, bylaws, etc, on our WhatsApp group and got them interested in Rotary. Then we began reading about how RCC models were successful in countries like Nigeria and Japan. And Philips John gave the final push for forming the RCC,” he says.

 

Funding

The parent club has been good in terms of support but Babu has been a major contributor through his company’s CSR for the RCC projects. “He is a cotton manufacturer/exporter, very considerate and an amazing uniter. When we have ego issues he makes sure that nobody gets disturbed. One of our RCC members lost his job during the pandemic. Babu set up a chain of grocery stores for him in Vidyaranyapura, pays him a salary and also 10 per cent share in the profits,” smiles Sikander.

RCCV member Agnes Vijaya educates adolescent girls about menstrual hygiene in a village.
RCCV member Agnes Vijaya educates adolescent girls about menstrual hygiene in a village.

The average age of the members is around 50 (Srikanth at 70 is the oldest and Clement (18) is the youngest), and most of them are entrepreneurs. The families also get involved in welfare activities. “The spouses of our members take part in menstrual hygiene programmes, and talk to the women and girls.” The children also chip in for projects. They volunteer in the medical camps and distribute books or ­stationery in schools. The members meet officially every Saturday and go online to discuss or tweak the programmes. “When all get together, we are about 30–35 people including children and spouses,” he says.

The club does not confine its projects to its own locality or any particular area. When one of the members was on a visit to Kalpakkam near Chennai, he came across a group of malnourished children of fishermen who were playing Ludo by drawing the grids on the floor and using pebbles for coins. “When he related this to us, we immediately provided them board games, sports goods, books and an almirah.” More recently the club, along with its parent club, provided basic infrastructure to a government high school in rural ­Bengaluru. Balaji Nanabala, the parent club president, is delighted with the RCC’s activities and “he joins us in many of our programmes,” says Sikander.

 

Smart classrooms

Of the 60 RCCs in the district, six are very active, says Mundackal. One of them — RCC Beglihosahalli — has even executed a global grant project with the help of its parent Rotary, RC Bangalore South.

L to R: Rtns V Babu, Suresh, RC Bangalore South past presidents B S Jai Prakash, H R Satish, Rtn Babu Nagendra, RCBS president Rajeshvari Suneel, Rtn Usha Dongre, H V Veeresh, club secretary M R Shivaram, Karnataka Vignana Parishad district coordinator Manjula Bhima Rao and RCC Beglihosahalli chairman B Muniswami at the Green Valley School, Kolar.
L to R: Rtns V Babu, Suresh, RC Bangalore South past presidents B S Jai Prakash, H R Satish, Rtn Babu Nagendra, RCBS president Rajeshvari Suneel, Rtn Usha Dongre, H V Veeresh, club secretary M R Shivaram, Karnataka Vignana Parishad district coordinator Manjula Bhima Rao and RCC Beglihosahalli chairman B Muniswami at the Green Valley School, Kolar.

The RCC was instrumental in providing eight smart classrooms with pre-loaded syllabus for Classes 1 to 12, and solar panels to provide electricity to the Green Valley School in ­Beglihosahalli, a backward hamlet on the city’s outskirts. It was formed in 2019 when Dr Jai Prakash, the then president of the parent Rotary, during his visit to the school, was impressed by the overall performance of the students, says the RCC chairman and the school’s trustee Muniswami. The total project cost was ₹27 lakh of which ₹20 lakh was raised through the GG and ₹7 lakh was contributed by the parent club. The school established by Muniswami and three of his friends in 2006 caters to 1,200 students from across 72 surrounding hamlets. Buses are in place to transport the children to and from the school.

“We have been consistently giving 100 per cent results in the Class 10 board examination,” he adds. The RCC organises RYLA and career counselling sessions for the higher class students.

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