Rebuilding Kerala

From L: DG E K Luke, DG E K Ummer, Veena and DG A V Pathy.
From L: DG E K Luke, DG E K Ummer, Veena and DG A V Pathy.

Aprominent feature of the ­Chennai Institute was the sessions dedicated to rebuilding Kerala and Kodagu (Karnataka) which were badly ravaged by torrential rains and flooding in August. “Congratulations to all Rotarians for rising to the occasion and reaching out to the flood victims at their most important hour of need. Now that the rescue operations are over, the thrust is on rehabilitation and we have to ­complete it by June 2019,” said RI Director C Basker.

He said that 38 villages in Coorg district were also badly damaged in the rains. DG ­Rohinath of District 3181, under which this region falls, thanked the Rotarians for their support. Rotary clubs across the country rushed truckloads of aid in the form of new clothes, drinking water, utensils, groceries, ­medicines etc for the people. A committee headed by PDG Ravi Appaji has been formed to construct 750 homes in Coorg, said Rohinath.

The sessions at the Institute discussed ways to fund an ambitious ­target of constructing 3,000 homes for the flood victims in the three districts — 3211, 3201 and 3202. Soon after the floods, PRIP Kalyan Banerjee had proposed this initiative during his visit to Kerala, and a committee headed by PRIP Banerjee and including RID Basker, TRF Trustee Gulam Vahanvaty and the governors of the three districts —
E K Luke (D 3211), A V Pathy (D 3201) and E K Ummer (D 3202) — formed and registered the ‘Rotary Kerala Disaster Relief Trust’ in Kochi. All relief funds received by the districts have been pooled into the Trust. Rotary districts and clubs from across the country and the globe have been sending their contributions to the three governors since the disaster. The DGs thanked the Rotarians and senior leadership for extending support to Kerala.

We will all work together and rebuild Kerala and Coorg as fast as possible. We will make this an outstanding project to serve the community.
— TRF Trustee Gulam Vahanvaty

RI President Barry Rassin, appreciating the alacrity of Indian Rotarians in extending help to the State, recommended the creation of a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) with TRF. Citing his experience from the relief work carried out after the Haiti earthquake in 2010, he said, “A DAF is more familiar and acceptable for people outside your country and it will be easy to raise funds through that than through an indigenous Trust. Sixty countries contributed to the DAF created for the Haiti disaster. This can be done for India too, for people across the world have faith in the Foundation.”

Basker immediately offered a personal contribution of $10,000 for setting up a DAF for the Kerala disaster.

Earlier, addressing a session on Let’s rebuild Kerala, PRIP Rajendra K Saboo urged Rotarians to approach corporates for funds to support the cause. “Those of you heading your own enterprises may consider routing your CSR funds to rebuild the State,” he said. His own employees had donated a day’s salary, which his company matched, and the amount was given for relief and rehabilitation. “My younger son in the US too gave $25,000 from his DAF,” he said, while recalling the rehabilitation activities after the Bhuj earthquake in Jan 2001, and the subsequent construction of 1,000 houses, thus forming a ‘Rotary village’.

RID C Basker addressing the ‘Let’s rebuild Kerala’ session. From L: DGs S Piraiyon, Suresh Hari, Chintamani Bhattarai; Back row: PDGs Ramesh Aggarwal, Vinod Bansal, Vijay Jalan, Avinash Potdar, E K Sagadhevan, Suresh Mathew and Dr Rajesh Subash are also in the picture.
RID C Basker addressing the ‘Let’s rebuild Kerala’ session. From L: DGs S Piraiyon, Suresh Hari, Chintamani Bhattarai; Back row: PDGs Ramesh Aggarwal, Vinod Bansal, Vijay Jalan, Avinash Potdar, E K Sagadhevan, Suresh Mathew and Dr Rajesh Subash are also in the picture.

“This is an opportunity for all districts to come together and execute one huge project that will also enhance Rotary’s visibility among the community,” said Basker, as he called for all the governors to donate generously from their DDFs. He appreciated D 3000 Governor R V N Kannan for donating $47,000 from his DDF for constructing low-cost shelters in Kerala through a global grant.

RI Director Eun-soo Moon from Korea announced his district’s financial support for this endeavour.

 

Rotary houses

Pathy elaborated on the modalities saying that the estimated cost of a 339 sq ft, single BHK unit is ₹350,000 and invited individual Rotarians to sponsor a house. “Such a house will be named after a person of your choice and you will be recognised by RI with a certificate, besides having the honour of handing over the key to the beneficiary.” One option is to get global grant for 240 houses in the three districts; the second to tap CSR funds for 1,000 houses; and the third direct contribution from Rotary districts and clubs to build the remaining 1,760 houses.

Making a presentation at the session, Dr Rajesh Subash of RC Calicut Midtown said that the Chairman of the Aster Healthcare company
Dr Azad Moopen is looking for a Rotary partnership to construct 250 homes in Ernakulam, Alleppey and Wayanad as their CSR initiative. “The plan outlay is $250,000 and this can be scaled up to $1 million if Rotary comes out with a good proposal. We want to construct the houses before the next monsoon.”

 

Getting corporates’ support

Basker said a brochure will be distributed to corporates to get funds for such houses for the flood victims.

Lauding the efforts of the three governors, whom he referred to as ‘Amar, Akbar, Antony’, TRF Trustee Gulam Vahanvaty said, “We will all work together and rebuild Kerala and Coorg as fast as possible. The global grants team at the Foundation is gearing up to expedite sanctions and I will also personally see what needs to be done. We will make this an outstanding project to serve the community and make The Rotary Foundation and Rotary shine bright.”

TRF Trustee Mike Webb (left) and DGs at the session.
TRF Trustee Mike Webb (left) and DGs at the session.

A commitment sought by Basker as a ­contribution from the DGs’ DDFs yielded $500,000, plus ₹1.2 crore. Almost all the districts agreed to sponsor a few homes. While PRIP Saboo announced a personal contribution of ₹20 lakh; RRFC Vijay Jalan and D 3011 DG Vinay Bhatia agreed to sponsor a house each and EMGA Vinod Bansal agreed to sponsor 50 houses from his CSR funds.

TRF Trustee Mike Webb pointed out that the consolidated DDF of $3 million from the three zones carried forward over the years, plus the $4.5 million DDF allocated for this Rotary year is available for construction of houses in Kerala. “I ask each of the governors here to really look at your DDF. It is not meant to stay in some bank account. It is meant to help people in need. You can seek a global grant with such a treasure that you have,” he gently prodded.

Pictures by Rasheeda Bhagat

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