RI President visits Chandigarh

Thank you for saving 777 lives,” said RI President Gordon McInally to the members of the Rotary Club of Chandigarh, RID 3080, as he visited Fortis Hospital in Mohali, which has been partnering with the club since 1991 in the Rotary Heartline project under which free heart surgeries are done. Till date, this project has saved 777 precious lives by doing cardiac surgery on children with heart problems. “I would say you have not just saved 777 lives… you have actually given new lives to 777 children, a commendable feat,” he said.

RI President Gordon McInally and Heather visit young Daphne, a patient from Zimbabwe, at the Fortis Hospital in Mohali. Also seen are RC Chandigarh president Anil Chadda, DG Arun Mongia and PRIP Rajendra Saboo.

Accompanied by his spouse Heather, PRIP Rajendra Saboo, RID 3080 DG Arun Mongia, club president Anil Chadda, director of community service Teena Virk and chairman of the Heartline project A P Singh, the RI president met 8-year-old Anu from Mohali district, whose successful heart surgery was done at this hospital by Dr T S Mahant only the previous day. He also met 16-year-old Daphne from Zimbabwe, who had arrived a day earlier with her mother for her second corrective surgery. She had been operated earlier in 2016 at the age of nine, when she was informed that she would require a corrective surgery later, which has now been done.

President McInally and Heather visit the club’s vocational training centre. Also seen: PDG Praveen Goyal, Chadda, DG Mongia, vocational services’ director Sartaj Lamba and Basu Goyal.

McInally also met Dr Mahant and his team of cardiologists and thanked them for the yeoman service they were doing in saving lives of so many children and presented a citation to Fortis Hospital on behalf of RC Chandigarh, acknowledging its support for the Heartline project. Teena Virk gave an overview of the project. Later ­McInally also met six children who were operated upon earlier under this project and their parents. Heather distributed gift hampers to the children.

At a banquet hosted by PRIP Saboo and his spouse Usha, and another TRF dinner, $93,000 were donated to The Rotary Foundation. “It was heartening to witness the collective commitment of these individuals towards TRF. Also, during the dinner, PDG Subash Garg from RC ­Yamunanagar was ­felicitated for sponsoring the first human milk bank in Punjab, which was inaugurated by President McInally earlier in the day at the B R Ambedkar State Instutute of Medical Sciences, Mohali,” said RC Chandigarh president Anil Chadda.

President McInally and Heather meet children at the Rotary Vidya Sadan.

McInally and Heather also visited the Rotary Vidya Sadan and met 100 students from the school. Established in 1987 by Rtn Major B M Singh, the institute gives education to underprivileged children. The facility, including a crèche, provides free service, running primary classes with English, Math, Hindi, and other subjects. A computer room with six stations has been added.

Chadda added that with over 200 students “enrolled in our school, it provides a supportive learning environment, and on special occasions such as Independence Day and Republic Day celebrations, several Rotarians from our club visit the school, so we give not only financial support through scholarships, and so on, but also our time, truly reflecting Rotary’s commitment to genuine community service.”

He added that during the presidential visit, students presented handmade cards, and the president was deeply moved by the quote, ‘Education is a key to the golden door,’ which he took with him as a handwritten note from a child.

At the human milk bank.

A highlight of President ­McInally’s visit to Chandigarh and Mohali was the inauguration of the first human milk bank (­Comprehensive ­Lactation Management Centre) at the B R Ambedkar State Institute of ­Medical Sciences, Mohali, set up by RC ­Chandigarh. PRIP Saboo, Dr Bhavneet Bharti, principal director of the institute, accompanied him.

The RI president congratulated the club members for the “landmark initiative that underscores the commitment of Rotary to advancing maternal and infant healthcare, and ensuring the well-being of newborns and infants in the region.” Chadda said this bank will have “an active engagement with the community, and offer support to mothers, while promoting awareness about the importance of breast milk for the baby’s optimum nourishment and will play a vital role in spreading awareness about the importance of human milk donation.”

Dr Bhavneet provided an insight into the state-of-the-art facility and assured that advanced technology and proper protocol will be followed to “guarantee the highest standards of safety and quality in storing and giving out the milk. The facility will collect, screen, process and dispense breast milk for the needy babies.” At a time 500 units of milk can be stored at this facility which will play a crucial role in saving the lives of premature babies or those with specific medical conditions that prevent them from receiving their mother’s milk.

President McInally and Heather with Basu and PDG Praveen Goyal, PRIP Saboo and Chadda, at the Rotary Peace Monument.

“The director also briefed the RI president that the centre will be manned by lactation consultants having expertise in managing complex breastfeeding issues. It will also act as a dedicated centre to support and promote breastfeeding to improve survival of infants, besides acting as a teaching, training and demonstration site for setting up other milk banks. The latest equipment required for ensuring the availability of safe human milk has been given at this hospital at a total cost of ₹1.1 crore by the Punjab government,” Chadda said.

He added that to set up the milk bank club members donated over ₹5 lakh and Rtn Subash Garg’s company Ruchira Papers donated ₹31 lakh as CSR contribution.

During the RI president’s visit to the various projects undertaken by RC Chandigarh, which was set up in 1955 and has 161 members, rich tributes were paid to PRIP Saboo, for the “crucial and pivotal role he has played in bringing this club to the highest standards and giving us the guidance to take up significant projects,” said club member and PDG Praveen Goyal, who played a leading role in organising the RI president’s visit to the city.

Students present their paintings to President McInally and Heather. Also seen are (from L) Kulbir Dogra, Gurvinder Sagoo, Chadda, and Charu and DG Mongia.

The RI president and Heather were also taken around the vocational training centre established at the Rotary House where they were received by the vocational services’ director Sartaj Lamba.

The services offered here include courses in computer technology, stitching and ­tailoring, beauty care and gardening. They were accompanied by PRIP Saboo, DG Arun and Charu ­Mongia, PDG Goyal and Basu Goyal, PDG ­Madhukar Malhotra, and members of the club.

The tour started with the classes in beauty care, where the students applied mehndi on the palms of Heather McInally, and adorned her with bangles and a bindi. “The nail art designs being taught here captivated both the visitors. They also visited the computer classes, where the president initiated a new batch for Tally learning. The tailoring classes proved fascinating, as the president sat at a machine, attempting to grasp the intricacies of pedal machines. Success stories of women who had excelled at the vocational courses and set up their own enterprises were shared. About 10,000 trainees have benefitted from the vocational courses in the past 33 years,” said PDG Madhukar Malhotra. A batch of 10 women, who were passing out, received Singer sewing machines sponsored by club member B B Goel.

President McInally and Heather at the computer station at the school. PDG Madhukar Malhotra, PRIP Saboo, DG Mongia and Chadda are also in the picture.

President McInally was also taken around the Rotary Blood Bank, where its history and the crucial role played by PRIP Saboo in establishing it was explained to him.

At one of the meetings DG Arun Mongia enumerated major community welfare initiatives being undertaken by RID 3080. PDG Madhuukar Malhotra was the chair of the organising ­committee which arranged the presidential visit.

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