It doesn’t have the colour and razzle-dazzle of Bajrangi Bhaijaan, the multi-crore Bollywood blockbuster starring superstar Salman Khan who risks his life for the deaf and mute beautiful little girl Munni, who has accidentally strayed across the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir border, into an Indian city. The angelic looking girl is unable to speak or give any details and the Hanuman-bhakt Bajrangi takes on the challenge of taking the girl across the border, facing the ire of the Pakistan security personnel. But he is helped in this task by a journalist. The movie came to mind when a couple of months ago, a Bangladeshi journalist, Shamshul Huda, who is a Rotarian and member of RC Banani Dhaka, stumbled upon a mentally and physically-challenged young man Subhash, languishing in a government-aided shelter home for the handicapped. Subhash, an Indian, who was most likely trafficked from his village in Uttar Pradesh into Bangladesh, but hastily discarded because of his handicap, was found by an auto rickshaw driver on the roadside, and he took him to the police. You can read the rest of the details in this issue.
Subhash’s return home to his parents, thanks to the deep and dedicated involvement of two Rotarians on either side of the border — Huda in Bangladesh and Rizwana Zamindar, a Rotarian from RC Bharuch, RID 3060, all the way across the breadth of India in the western state of Gujarat — restores your faith in humanity. The persistence and passion with which both Huda and Rizwana set about, with clenched teeth, I am sure, to nip away at the strong layers of red tape that firmly blocked Subhash’s return home, is mindblowing. The irony is that the person who they helped reunite with his family wouldn’t even have been able to thank them properly, given his mental status. It is commendable that in this humanitarian task, PRID Kamal Sanghvi also got involved and guided the Rotarians on how to finish this challenging task. Finally, when the reunion of Subhash and his family took place at the Indo-Bangladesh border in March, he was physically present to celebrate the event.
Just like Huda and Rizwana, we have real life heroes all around us, in Rotary and outside of it. And they don’t come in shiny armour. Nobody knows what prompts a man to jump from the platform even as a train is approaching to rescue someone who has accidentally slipped and fell on the track. Or dash into a burning house to rescue children, or pets, who are trapped there. These decisions are taken in a split second, where there is no time for thinking. Goes to prove that by instinct a human being is innately good!
But while welcoming Subhash back home, thousands of Rotarians across the world have bid a tearful farewell to PDG Rekha Shetty from RID 3232. The ever-smiling, dynamic, innovative, articulate, vivacious and helpful woman held a number of powerful positions in Rotary and fulfilled the responsibilities given to her diligently and cheerfully. Only with her sudden demise, when the social media erupted with sorrowful messages, did the Rotary world in India realise what a trailblazer she was and enjoyed so much popularity. In a milieu where women Rotary leaders are still few and far between, Rekha’s leadership will be missed.