Varanasi Rotarians care for destitute women

His house is 500m from the State Women’s Old Age Ashram in Varanasi; in 1991 when he was club secretary Arun Gupta, a general physician by  profession, requested his club, RC Varanasi Central, RID 3120, to adopt the old-age home as he felt “the home needed help.” Thirty years later, at age 72 the charter member continues to serve as the in-house doctor at the home “with full support of my club. All the new and old members love this project.”

Members of RC Varanasi Central distributing warm clothes to the needy. Past President Sanjay Gupta (R) and IPDG Sanjay Agrawal (second from R) are seen in the picture.
Members of RC Varanasi Central distributing warm clothes to the needy. Past President Sanjay Gupta (R) and IPDG Sanjay Agrawal (second from R) are seen in the picture.

Recalling the “good old days,” he says, “We had no idea we’d have to chase away monkeys which visited the ashram for food and troubled the old women.” A steel mesh costing ₹40,000 was constructed around the balcony and corridor of the home. That fixed the monkey problem; “but the building was deteriorating and needed a quick fix.” Soon the club sponsored the renovation of the building and constructed a compound wall around the home and set up a mini garden for the women to gather outdoors and get some fresh air. Water storage tanks were installed and toilets and bathrooms were revamped.

Today the home has a washing machine and refrigerator but the women were most happy when an LED TV was installed. “Now they regularly watch Saas bahu soaps,” says Gupta.

The oldest woman at the ashram Champa Devi died at the age of 102. The club had earlier sponsored her gall bladder and hip-joint replacement surgery. Gupta performs the final rites and conducts prayer ceremony for the persons who die in the ashram. Past President Sanjay Gupta says, “we contribute the money while Gupta puts in hard work. He doesn’t care for pictures and always steps back when there is a photo session.” Arun Gupta says, “I don’t need a photo; I come here every day and have made countless memories.”

A club member interacts with an inmate at the old-age home.
A club member interacts with an inmate at the old-age home.

Through Project Annapurna, the club provides Sunday lunch to the inmates of the home. Every Friday club members visit the old-age home and ask the inmates for the lunch menu. The meal choices are discussed and approved by Arun Gupta. The food is freshly prepared at Hotel Amaya, owned by Rtn Lalla Ram Maurya. “In 2019 we started this Sunday lunch tradition giving the destitute women a chance to eat what they want. We also get an opportunity to spend time with them,” says Sanjay Gupta.

During the lockdown the club continued to provide dry ration, milk and fruits to the ­ashram. Last winter the club members distributed 1,000 blankets in villages around Varanasi.

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