Talk, talk and talk until it inspires to take action,” says DRR Akshay Deepak More of RID 3131, pointing out to the achievement of Mary Daniel Mendonca who was instrumental in building a gender-neutral toilet at the University of Mumbai in 2014. More was addressing the Rotaractors at the Talk 2.0, an annual district Rotaract event that introduces to them people from various walks of life who have made a difference in the community through sheer perseverance and dedication.
Mendonca was one such speaker who inspired the Rotaractors at the event. His powerful statement first made at the UN and several other platforms thereafter won him standing ovations. Just because you are straight, that doesn’t make me crooked,” he said, representing India at the UN, probably the first Indian intersex to do so.
Here at the Talk event, he narrated how he got a toilet exclusively built for transgenders at the University. Although bullied and abused several times in school, he joined the University of Mumbai as a BSW student, with a singular focus on his personal growth. While his professors wondered how he would tackle the daily challenges of college life, Mendonca was faced with the question: “Which toilet to use? I would be laughed at every time I went to the washroom. It made me angry, I decided to do something about it.” He wrote a letter to the management demanding a separate washroom. “The application was accepted and the administration built a separate washroom for the LGBTQI community,” said Mendonca.
Another speaker to inspire the Rotaractors was Naval Dayal, former Head of Capex and Opex PAN India of Patanjali Ayurveda Ltd. He addressed the Rotaractors on the most important skills an entrepreneur should possess. Anuradha Prabhudesai, Founder of Lakshya Foundation, that works towards bridging the gap between the Armed forces and the civilians narrated few heartwarming stories of the soldiers serving the Indian Army. “She tapped the patriotism in us as she walked us through the hardships suffered by our soldiers,” says DRR More.
Projects and fellowship
The Rotaractors of D 3131 also engage in a “special community service project every year where we join hands with the local police to help them manage traffic at several locations during Ganesh Chaturthi. We also help them to regularise heavy crowds and reunite missing children with their parents. We help the elderly citizens and women pass through the procession safely,” says More. After the procession, the Rotaractors engage in cleaning the litter strewn along the route. This year the Rotaractors were awarded a certificate of appreciation by the Pune Municipal Corporation.
Rotaract District 3131, along with a few Rotary clubs, provided monetary aid and relief material to the flood victims of Kolhapur and Sangli. “We raised ₹40,000 for this cause from our members, friends and families. This amount was utilised to buy things like medicines, candles, face masks, mosquito repellents and food packages. We also collected a large quantity of relief material to be donated to the victims and contributed ₹6,000 to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. Nearly 200 families benefited from this project,” says the DRR proudly.
Rotakeshi, a fellowship event hosted by the Rotary Clubs of Pune Kalyaninagar, Alumini, Mitcon and Pune Ganeshkhind gave the Rotaractors a much-needed break. Around 300 Rotaractors participated in the fun-filled event and it helped them to get closer to Rotarians and draw inspiration to join Rotary after their Rotaract service.