At the TRF dinner at the Zone Institute in Indore, Trustee Chair Representative Trustee Seiji Kita said that TRF was very happy with its peace programme; and “continuously planning to expand the certificate programme. Four more peace centres are to be opened by 2030. The first will be in Uganda, Africa, and will be opened in 2021.”
Underlying the importance of having a robust peace programme at a time “when violence, conflict and terrorism prevail”, Kita said the Rotary peace centres assume great significance. They have “trained 1,300 scholars and about 40 per cent of them work with non government organisations, 15 per cent with government agencies, and others are at the UN agencies, in research, academics and other areas. We are very proud of our peace programme…. as much as we are of our polio eradication efforts,” he said and thanked and congratulated PRIP Rajendra Saboo “who played such an important role in the establishment of the peace programme and peace centres.”
Trustee Gulam Vahanvaty was happy to note that “last year saw a record giving to TRF of $395 million. In this worldwide giving, India was No 2 with $ 21.4 million. Two Indian districts emerged the top two giving districts in the world — RI District 3190 at No 1 and RID 3142 at No 2.”
What was more, he added, of the 50 top-giving districts in the world, nine were from India, with RID 3011 being at No 9.
Vahanvaty said India’s role in strengthening “our Foundation continues unabated; Endowment fund contribution last year was the second highest in the world next only to US. We want to be a major player in reaching the Endowment goal of $2.025 billion by 2025.” He was confident that the tempo for giving across India will continue. “There will be no slowing down; we will surpass our goal of raising $30 million this year.”
But, he added, “we still face challenges in the Annual and PolioPlus fund contributions. They are very important too. In addition to Major Gifts, Rotarians’ participation through small gifts needs to be encouraged for both these funds.”
He was happy to find that more and more Indian corporates believe in TRF and know they can trust it. In November, he had visited six Rotary districts in India and found everywhere that the governors and Rotarians were committed and motivated to giving. At the TRF seminars in these six districts, over $100,000 had come in actual contributions and commitments were made for more in each of them.”
Complimenting the current set of DGs for doing very well in TRF contributions, he said, particularly in RID 3240, given the huge geographic area in the north-eastern region, four TRF seminars had been held. He had attended the one in Guwahati and found the response to be “overwhelming. Let us keep up the momentum and maintain the high standards of stewardship,” Vahanvaty added.
Addressing the meeting and calling The Rotary Foundation the “backbone” of RI, RI Director Bharat Pandya said a record attendance of 400 Rotarians at the TRF dinner “speaks about your commitment and dedication to TRF.” By working through TRF, “we change the world and make it a better place. Our work starts at our doorstep and reaches parts of the world we’ve never been to, or seen and will never see. Helen Keller was once asked is there anything worse than being blind and she said ‘Yes, having sight but no vision.’ It is TRF which give Rotary and Rotarians that forward looking vision to work towards a better tomorrow.”
There will be no slowing down; we will surpass our goal of raising $30 million this year.
– Gulam Vahanvaty, TRF Trustee
He added that projects done with TRF grants benefit millions, “providing water for the thirsty, food for the hungry and shelters for the homeless. TRF is the perfect example of the power of one… one Rotary club, one district, multiplied many times over.”
RI General Secretary John Hewko, who inducted two AKS members, PDG J B Kamdar and Marlene (the Chair circle with a contribution of $500,000) from RID 3232 and Kishorilal Jhunjunwala from RID 3142, said the Arch Klumph Society was growing rapidly, and now has 1,000 members, with India having the second highest number of AKS members. “At the One Rotary Centre (in Evanston) we have a nice AKS gallery on the 17th floor. When we set it up a few years ago, we figured we had at least 10–15 years left before we ran out of space. But the AKS has exploded with so many generous donors that we anticipate it will need to be expanded in five years.”
EMGAs Sam Patibandla and Vinod Bansal introduced the Major donors and two AKS members.
Kamdar said he and Marlene, came from families with “modest means but richness of heart and a philosophy of sharing. We have seen the entire spectrum of ups and down. We began our married lives with financial uncertainties of an enormous kind. So as we struggled with our family-owned business we became the beneficiaries of help from many good Samaritans.”
As their business improved, they met Mother Teresa, who asked them to “give till it hurts, and then some more.” Around the same time he met veteran Rotarian Kris Chitale in Chennai, “who introduced us to Rotary and became our mentor.” Kamdar admitted that money for his first donation of $1,000 to become a Paul Harris Fellow was the most difficult to raise. “And I had doubts about how my money would be used. But my friend Kris, who used to talk frankly like Ravi (PRIP K R Ravindran), said: ‘JB, have some faith, your money will be leveraged and used to a much better effect.’”
Jhunjhunwala said he was humbled by the recognition and added: “We make a living by what we earn but we make a life by what we give.” A Rotarian since 1989, he always had the desire to do something for society and as a successful professional felt that life is a two-way process and those who have more wealth must share it with others.
Other TRF benefactors recognised were Lalit and Neelu Khanna (RID 3012), Girish Govind and Sanjeevani Gune (3131); Manish and Mona Gyani and Kulbhushan and Manju Jetly; T N Subramanian and Vidhya (all from 3141); Debashish and Charismata Das (3240); Keshav and Durga Kunwar (3292); Kiran Lal Shrestha (3292); Ravi Raman and Shobana (3232); DG A K Natesan and Parvathy (2982).
Pictures by Rasheeda Bhagat