Rotaract Club of Caduceus has a unique composition of Rotaractors — all 42 of its members are medical professionals. Drawn from 19 medical colleges from across seven cities including Delhi and Nashik, the club was chartered 20 years ago by Rotary Club of Bombay Central, D 3141. A representative from each college serves as the link between the club and their respective college.
The club is therefore aptly named after the Caduceus, the symbol of medicine. It refers to the staff of Hormes, the messenger of gods in Greek mythology and is represented as a winged staff with two snakes entwined around it.
The ‘Caduceans’ as the club members call themselves aim to “use our medical and clinical knowledge to comfort, treat and refer appropriate course of action for those who are in need,” in the words of Vidhi Dave, the President of the Club. Needless to say, the club focusses on healthcare projects conducting medical camps in various specialties especially in rural and semi-urban areas where access to medical care and awareness is limited.
The Caduceans aim to use their medical knowledge to comfort, treat and refer appropriate course of action for those who are in need.
“We recently won the outstanding project award at the Rotaract Zone Institute for conducting an exhaustive health check-up camp in the villages of Chattisgarh,” says Vidhi relating the lead up to their working on the project. Sarguja district in Chattisgarh is dotted with coal and bauxite mining industries and most of the villagers there are miners. The nature of work exposes them to occupational health hazards.
The club, in association with the Sarguja Science group, conducted a survey to identify the various health issues the villagers faced and treated them for lungs, eyes and oral diseases. “Organising ourselves into groups we also visited the surrounding villages to sensitise people on sanitation, menstrual hygiene, antenatal care, nutrition, waste disposal and use of contraceptives. We even struck partnerships with Shreh Foundation and Mitti ke Rang — two organisations who have agreed to sponsor waste segregation and sanitary systems in the villages,” she says.
The Rotaractors also promoted enrolments in schools by stressing on the importance of education among the villagers and helped in revamping some of the local schools. They planted saplings of native trees in the quarries which will help in improving air quality in the long run.
Meducation is one of the club’s flagship projects where medical specialists are invited to deliver lecture on various topics which help to enhance the knowledge on the subject for the club members. “It is open to the public too. In fact, it is a major fund-raiser which fetches us at least Rs 1 lakh by the end of the year,” says Vidhi. Through Vision 6/6, the Rotaractors provide eye care and treatment for the needy. They help in performing cataract surgeries for those who can’t afford it and conduct regular eye camps in schools and colleges and provide Vitamin A supplements and spectacles for children hailing from poor families.
The Breakfast Revolution aims at providing nutritious breakfast to children in anganwadis while their Wings programme promotes menstrual hygiene and proper use of sanitary pads and their safe disposal amongst adolescent girls, besides working on removing stigma attached to menstruation in rural areas. Project Semicolon is an international campaign that reaches out to mentally ill and depressed people, helping them to rebuild their lives instead of resorting to suicide. “We are working extensively for the cause and Caduceans everywhere make it a point to address the public to not take depression of any form lightly. The psychologists in our team urge people to give a patient ear to their loved ones and not ignore any sort of abnormal behaviour. Often people resort to extreme steps only when they feel neglected and are unable to vent out their thoughts and feelings,” says Vidhi.
Rotaractors go trekking up the hills and, on their way back, collect garbage and plastics littered along the way.
Through their Anti-litter campaigns teams of Caduceans go trekking up the hills and, on their way back, collect garbage and plastics littered along the way and dump them in the government disposal sites after reaching the base. They have recently installed eco-friendly jute bags as dustbins in few areas. “It is a fun way of bonding, team work and service,” says Vidhi. Other trekking groups are also invited to collaborate and are rewarded for the good work in different areas.
Project Prophylaxis trains the general public to administer first aid and intervention at the initial level for any untoward incident such as a heart attack, stroke, burns or common conditions such as dehydration, treating acne etc. “We have an active social media group through which we share useful first aid tips so that it reaches as many people as possible.”
Other community projects include regular visits to orphanages and old age homes and cheering the children and elders there with gifts and conducting regular geriatric camps.
“We really take our medical oath and ceremonial Rotaract oath seriously and go that extra mile to serve humanity in every possible way,” smiles Vidhi as she prepares to leave for the club meeting.