It was a defining moment for Savitha Prabhakaran (48) when she received a sewing machine with certificate at the pass-out ceremony. Having lost her husband at a young age, she had to eke out a living as housemaid for years before RC Thanjavur South, RID 2981, offered a three-month training programme in tailoring at its vocational centre.
She almost burst into tears and was speechless after receiving the sewing machine, but managed to say, “now I can look forward to enhance my livelihood with this facility.” Her batchmate Kannagi P (51) who takes care of her bedridden husband said confidently that her monthly earnings would raise manifold with this new vocation. These two women were among the 68 who received certificates for completing the course, “but sewing machines were given to only two of them,” says S Prabhu, club president.
Last year (2019–2020) the club gave 11 electronic machines with district grants. Deserving students were chosen through a set of criteria such as punctuality, 100 per cent attendance, skill development and value-addition for donating sewing machines to them, with preference for widows and destitute. Since 2012, the vocational centre has trained 1,056 women in tailoring through four batches annually. “We had closed down the centre for 10 months during the corona lockdown and restarted it last November,” he says. “Free tailoring classes are held for 96 women in a year. This year we had only 68 candidates due to the pandemic.”
Speaking at the pass-out ceremony, Mohamed Ehiya, chief guest and a club member, urged the rural women to form groups and “take up value-addition in tailoring to embellish their finished products that would fetch them high income.” A jet-setting industrialist with 14 business ventures in Kenya, Dubai, Europe, US, Singapore and Malaysia, Ehiya also runs a training centre (computer, tailoring) near his residence at Nadukkadai in Thiruvaiyaru, Thanjavur district. “Ehiya is keen to sign an MoU with our club to get skilled manpower for his garment factory in Bengaluru,” says Prabhu.
A self-sufficient club
With 94 members, the 43-year-old club has seven out of 13 endowment donors in RID 2981 and 10 major donors. “We have our own hall — Rotary Arulananda Swami Nadar Indoor Auditorium — built in 1983 at a cost of ₹50 lakh.” This premises has a sprawling hall on the ground floor, the vocational centre run on the first floor, a terrace garden and an adjoining food court with a total built-up area of 5,300 sqft. Recently, the building was renovated with new interiors. “We have surplus cash reserves and all RI norms are being followed with annual dues remitted in time,” says Prabhu.
The club sponsors RAC Bon Secours with over 1,500 Rotaractors (rural girls) and Interact Club of Little Scholars with around 1,400 Interactors. So far, the club has given ₹2.43 crore to TRF. A Smart classroom was donated by its RCC to the Government Higher Secondary School at Ambalapattu through a matching grant project. The club donated 15 bench-desks, and cupboards and racks for the library to the Government HS School, Panayakkottai.