Utility kits for sugarcane farmers in Pune

For three years now Rotary Club of Pune East, RID 3131, has been distributing ‘Happy Family Kits’ to migrant and economically challenged families in the rural belts of Pune. Each kit comprises ten items including a biogas stove, solar lamp, detergent soap and other toiletries, stainless steel containers, a basic first-aid box, sanitary pad packets and tarpaulin, all packed into a travel bag. The project was conceptualised by club member and DGE Shital Shah in 2020–21. Around 2,500 families have benefitted from the project so far.

Members of RC Pune East at a hamlet after distributing ‘Happy Family Kits’ to the villagers.
Members of RC Pune East at a hamlet after distributing ‘Happy Family Kits’ to the villagers.

There are several sugarcane farms on the outskirts of Pune. During the harvest season, the farmers who are otherwise employed elsewhere at meagre wages, visit their farms for about four months. Most of them arrive with barely anything. “We identified such farmers and gifted them the family kits which will give them the basic necessities to keep them comfortable as they harvest their crop,” says Vinay Patil, district chair, Happy Family Kit project. During earlier visits the Rotarians were moved by the pathetic living condition of the people in other hamlets and decided to include them too as beneficiaries of the kits.

Each kit costs around ₹3,500 and Foseco India has been a consistent supporter of the project with its CSR funds. RC Pune East provides its share of funds through its trust and has also roped in 72 Rotary clubs in the past three years to contribute to this cause. “These clubs have also helped in identifying the beneficiary families,” he says.

The village Velhe is without much basic facilities, and the kits will be of great value for the people there.
– Sahil Vijay Shaha, president, RC Pune East

Last year the club had applied for a global grant of $62,500 to help 1,400 people with the kit. “But the grant didn’t go through due to the sustainability factor. But we are hopeful of continuing the project this year with CSR grants and in-house funds,” says club president Sahil Vijay Shaha. This year the club is planning to distribute 700 kits to start with and is working on upgrading the number to 2,000, “if we get lucky with a CSR partner,” smiles Shaha.

For the current year, the Rotarians have identified families in Velhe, a remote village, 70km from Pune. “It takes two hours to reach there. The village is without basic facilities, and the kits will be of great value to the people there.” The club has worked out a plan with its partnering Rotary clubs where two kits are given free when a club places an order for one. “This way we can also reach out to more beneficiaries,” says the club president.

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