The incredible work being done by Rotary in this part of the world needs to be told to a wider audience through impactful stories. Rotary is in our DNA and let the world know our work and contributions,” said RI President Jennifer Jones at a meeting hosted jointly by RIDs 3232, 3231, 2981, 2982 and 3000 in Chennai.
She launched five ambitious projects in the fields of healthcare, women’s empowerment and environment. RID 2981 donated a Rotary Mobile Hospital (₹70 lakh) to the Vinayaga Mission Medical College and Hospital, Karaikal. The project is the brainchild of PDG R Balaji Babu (2020–21) and RC Le Bourget Aulnay Sous Bois, RID 1770, France, is its global partner.
A rally was flagged off by the RI president to create awareness on the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle). It was jointly organised by RCs Krishnagiri, Sankagiri, Salem Wings and Hosur, RID 2982.
RCs Chennai IT City and Chennai Towers donated wet grinders worth ₹25 lakh to 50 differently-abled women. “We will scale it up to 100 families in the next phase,” said event chair Kathir Ganapathiappan from RC Guindy. Under Project Pollinator, RID 3232 will be setting up 200 bee hotels (₹15 lakh) to attract bees and facilitate cross pollination in flowers. The district will also be setting up 100 air quality monitoring gadgets (₹1.75 crore) across Chennai, said its environment chair S M Balasubramanian. Four I-Breast equipment will screen 14,000 women for breast cancer across the city. The GG project (₹40 lakh) is executed by RC Madras Chenna Patna, in partnership with RC Cataraqui Kingston, Ontario, RID 6400.
Rapid fire Q&A
What would you do differently, if you are a club president now, asked RI director A S Venkatesh to Jones; her reply: “I will ask the club members what they want to do and give them meaningful responsibilities so that they fall in love with Rotary.”
Being a woman in Rotary is an advantage or disadvantage, was the next question. Recalling her handling questions from the 17-member nominating committee for the RI president’s post two years ago, Jones said the majority of them were moved by her qualifications, rather than being caught in the web of gender issues. “Women bring diverse perspectives to Rotary, which opens up a big opportunity for them,” she said and dismissed the stereotyped view that Rotary is a ‘man’s world’. Answering Venkatesh’s question on what she doesn’t like about Rotary in India, Jones replied, “The rivalry among Rotarians during elections. Honest conversation is the way out. Apply the Four-Way Test to resolve all the contentious issues.”
The RI director appreciated the mammoth projects executed by PDGs J Sridhar and S Muthupalaniappan, RID 3232, during their tenure — 134 dialysis centres set up in Chennai hospitals last year; and before that, over 100 eyecare clinics set up across the city. RI director Mahesh Kotbagi appreciated the service projects showcased by the five districts.
DGs N Nandakumar, J K N Palani, V Selvanathan, P Saravanan and I Jerald felicitated the RI president.
Hepatitis vaccination drive
Jones launched ‘A million hepatitis vaccination’ drive which is jointly done by RID 3232 and the Chennai Liver Foundation (CLF). “Rotary has a good health infrastructure in place through its polio eradication efforts which will help us in the fight against hepatitis,” she noted. Rotary clubs will work closely with the community and the government to scale up the hepatitis vaccination drive, said DG Nandakumar. Giving details of the vaccination drive, Dr R P Shanmugam, gastroenterologist and founder, CLF, said “viral hepatitis is a silent killer — nine out of 10 patients don’t know about it — as the virus can sit in the liver without the knowledge of the patient for over 25 years. It manifests itself at the age of 45 or above and by that time 70 per cent of the liver is damaged and beyond recovery.”
Meet with women Rotarians
The district’s women Rotarians had an exclusive session titled Sheroes with the RI president. “Take good care of your health and strike the right work-life balance,” said Jones to them. Earlier Vinita, spouse of RI director Venkatesh, introduced Jones to the audience saying that the RI president has smashed every glass ceiling with a stamp of accomplishment to reach the topmost post in Rotary, “like a warrior princess”.
Launching Project Shakti, a project to screen in the next five years at least one million women for breast cancer, Jones recalled her traumatic experience as a breast cancer survivor. “After eight chemotherapy and 21 radiation sessions, I recovered from cancer fully and emerged with a new purpose in life,” she said, adding how important it is to get diagnosed early, so that the disease can be cured fully.
Project Vahini was launched, in partnership with the DORAI Foundation, to train 250 women to drive cars, so that they can be employed in hotels and corporates for regular income. Under Project Sundari, 100 women were enrolled in a beautician course in a tie-up with Naturals, a salon group. “Now they are ready either to start a new venture or join a beauty parlour. Among them, 20 are speech and hearing-impaired,” said project director Sharada Sundaram from RC Madras Central Aadithya.
DRFC B Dakshayani said that the district has 26 per cent women members (around 1,500) and “we are aiming to add 1,000 new members and five all-women’s club by the year end.” District 3232 stands third in the world in TRF giving and has committed $2.15 million for the current year.
Pictures: V Muthukumaran