While the Covid lockdown has inhibited Rotaract projects, Sakshi Raman, president, RAC Sri Aurobindo College, RID 3011, is busy inducting new students into her club. Despite hurdles, they have already done nearly 40 outreach events, camps and relief activities in the national capital region, Assam and Bihar since July.
In August 40 new members were inducted, and “we have targeted a membership of at least 150 by the end of next June. But the lockdown will hamper our membership drive and being an institution-based club, the final year students after passing out quit as Rotaractors.” Hence, they have to motivate the freshers and others to join Rotaract which is a challenge, she says. Last year, the membership stood at 196 and “each year we have to induct new members to carry on our club projects,” says Sakshi. But she is confident of taking forward some of the flagship projects of the club without any hassles this year too. Project Rudhir (red blood) holds a series of awareness camps, sessions and workshops on menstrual hygiene among women in slums and girls at government schools over the last three years.
Last year, the women at Saket, Pushp Vihar and Mukundpur from large slum clusters were covered under Project Rudhir, apart from students from five schools in the NCR. “We reached out to 350 beneficiaries who were taught about menstrual hygiene with dos and don’ts. They also got sanitary napkins and hygiene kits that would ensure menstrual hygine among the less privileged families,” she explains. Due to extended lockdown, the club has so far completed only two phases of this project — an online poster campaign on Facebook and Instagram that focused on menstrual woes during the pandemic. This benefitted around 230 underprivileged women. In the second phase, a guest speaker from Riopad, a franchisee of Noble Hygiene, explained in a webinar on the need to adopt scientific means during menses by the use of sanitary pads and other hygiene packs. This webinar reached out to 140 beneficiaries.
Project Grim with a tagline ‘good hygiene, healthy life’ creates awareness on adopting good sanitation practices and distributes sanitisers to needy families. The club makes use of a community centre at Masoodpur to employ eight women to pack sanitisers for handwash that are being distributed to poor families in slums and backward colonies. “We take delivery of handwash solution from a third party and get the packaging done at the centre for distribution. Last year, Project Grim reached out to 2,500 beneficiaries in eight phases and this year, we are hopeful of touching 4,000 lives. We have already done the first phase since July that benefitted 40 persons,” says Sakshi.
Under Smiling Faces, the club distributes food packets, sparsely-used clothes, footwear and other essential items to poor families and roadside dwellers living a marginal existence. Last year, the project benefitted 400 families, “and we are confident of donating useful items to at least 600 families.”
Flood relief campaign
Having conducted a week-long online campaign for flood relief for cyclone victims in Assam and Bihar, the Rotaractors collected large bundles of relief material and cash from Delhi residents. “We bought utility things with the donated amount and an eight-member Rotaract team visited Patna and Guwahati from Aug 5 to distribute relief material to the flood-hit families,” explains Sakshi. The Rotaractors visited the damaged houses of 66 families and presented the relief material to them.
Most of the project funding is done through a mix of membership fees (₹250 per member), big donations from sponsors and contributions from their parent club, RC Delhi South-West. “We can bank on our parent Rotary club for the right inputs and mentorship for projects. They also sponsor our select projects and help us to get donations from corporates too,” says club president, a final year student of BA (Economics). Due to lockdown restrictions, the Rotaractars conduct their weekly meetings through zoom or Google Meet to chart out monthly activities. But once the normalcy resumes, they are hopeful of resuming their club meetings at a park near their college.