It is time we stop checking the box on diversity, equity and inclusion and begin to make an impact,” says Deepanshu, ZRR, RID 3070. With that in mind three Rotaract clubs from his zone — RACs GGNIMT, North Ludhiana and Ludhiana Supporters — organised a vocational training programme for members of the transgender community, in association with two local NGOs — Jeet Foundation and City Needs.
The training programme is being undertaken by Jeet Foundation and during the International Week of Happiness (March 17–22) Rotaractors promoted the initiative under the event Happy Camp. “Each year we visit an orphanage or old age home and distribute clothes, sweets and food during the Week of Happiness. This year we wanted to help members of the transgender community,” says Deepanshu who chaired the event. Such programmes, he says, are a “driver for positive change not just in Ludhiana but across the country.” In most big cities in India, he points out that there are “strong transgender associations and communities. It’s the smaller cities and towns that need more sensitisation and to see change we have to move from awareness to action,” he adds.
“I am a talented make-up artist but people look down upon me because I am a transgender. This certified training programme will help me find a job or start something small on my own,” says Sandy, a participant of the vocational training programme and adds that “this programme has not only polished my skills but the interaction with the Rotaractors made me realise that we can be treated normally without being patronised.”
Positive experiences like these “are a genuine way to appreciate the unique talents this community has to offer. Besides this is also a great way for them to connect, learn and engage,” says the ZRR.
At the closing ceremony of the Happy Camp members of the transgender community participated in games, sang songs and danced to the tune of latest Punjabi songs. “I enjoyed myself and made new genuine friends. Rotaractors are people I can trust and I know I can call them when in need,” smiles Sandy. In addition to festivities Rotaractors honoured them by giving them red roses and cut a cake.
Ashish Arora, the District Rotaract secretary and Nishul Sood, ZRR-Himachal zone, along with a few RI officers, attended the closing ceremony. “Organisations with diverse perspectives and representation are more successful than the rest.We request other Rotaract zones and districts to organise a Happy Camp because everyone deserves happiness and as Rotaractors we should begin to make an impact.”